Professor John Knox discusses first global treaty to control mercury

GENEVA  – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, Marc Pallemaerts, and the U.N. Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, Wake Forest Law Professor John Knox, welcomed today the signing of the world’s first global treaty to control mercury by some 140 countries and territories, at an international conference in Minamata City, Japan.

“We now urge governments worldwide to take another decisive step against a global scourge by ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury and making it legally binding,” they said. The convention must be ratified by 50 countries to come into effect, a process that could take three to four years, according to the U.N.  Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Convention is named after one of the largest mercury contaminations in history, which occurred as a result of a decade’s long mercury poisoning from spills from a company that dumped wastewater containing methyl-mercury near the fishing village of Minamata, and resulted in people developing a neurologically debilitating disease called Minamata disease.

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