The Basel Convention, more formally known at the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, is an international treaty regulating the shipment and disposal of toxic waste. It is designed to protect human health and the environment from damage caused by the generation, management, transportation, and disposal of toxic waste. It began in the 1980s, when ships loaded with toxic waste made headlines when they could not find a port at which to unload their toxic cargo. The tightening of environmental regulations in industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. To reduce costs, producers of hazardous waste began shipping their waste to developing countries in Africa and Asia, as well as to Eastern Europe. Outrage over these practices led to the drafting and adoption of the Basel Convention.
Created by the United Nations, it was ratified in 1989 and became effective in 1992. The Basel Convention has been signed by 170 countries and ratified by all but three (Afghanistan, Haiti, and the United States). Waste from electronics and computers is covered under the Basel Convention and is a growing source of toxic waste. The organization's stated current areas of focus are:
▲ Active promotion and use of cleaner technologies and production methods.
▲ Further reduction of the movement of hazardous and other wastes.
▲ The prevention and monitoring of illegal traffic.
▲ Improvement of institutional and technical capabilities - through technology when appropriate - especially for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
▲ Further development of regional and subregional centers for training and technology transfer.
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