Public Papers

Message to the Senate Transmitting the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal


To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, with Annexes, done at Basel on March 22, 1989. The report of the Department of State is enclosed for the information of the Senate.

The Convention, which was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program with the active participation of the United States, makes environmentally sound management the prerequisite to any transboundary movement of wastes. To that end, it bars transboundary movements unless every country involved has consented. Even when consent is obtained, shipments must be prohibited when either the country from which the wastes are exported or the country in which the wastes will be disposed have reason to believe that the shipment will not be handled in an environmentally sound manner. The Convention also provides for the environmentally sound management of wastes that are illegally transported.

Upon receiving the unanimous recommendation of interested agencies, I personally authorized signature of the Convention by the United States last March. The notice-and-consent regime it establishes advances environmental goals that the United States has long held. We were one of the first nations to enact legislation prohibiting exports of hazardous wastes without the consent of the importing country. In March 1989, as negotiations of this Convention were concluding, I announced that the Administration planned to seek statutory authority to ban exports of hazardous wastes except pursuant to a bilateral agreement providing for the environmentally sound management of the wastes. We now have such agreements with Canada and Mexico. Proposed legislation supported by the Administration has recently been transmitted to the Congress.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Convention and its advice and consent to ratification.

George Bush

The White House,

May 17, 1991.

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