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Swiss want to host fight against "dirty dozen"

Philippe Roch hopes the POPs office will remain in Geneva Keystone Archive

Switzerland has announced it wants to be the seat of a United Nations environmental body focusing on the elimination of 12 chemical pollutants.

This content was published on July 14, 2003 - 18:58

The Swiss submitted their candidacy at the seventh negotiating round in Geneva of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The Convention on POPs, which was adopted in 2001, aims to eliminate 12 highly toxic and persistent chemicals around the world.

“POPs are a problem of global dimension,” said Philippe Roch, director of the Swiss environment agency.

Italy and Germany are also candidates for the permanent seat of the Secretariat, which until now has been provisionally held in Geneva – where Roch hopes the organisation will stay.

The Swiss stressed that a number of related organisations, such as the Basel Convention, which regulates trade in hazardous wastes, have their Secretariats in Geneva offering potential synergies.

Financial support

At the current negotiating round – which ended on Friday – financial support for developing countries to eliminate POPs, as well as the implementation of the accord at a national level are on the agenda.

Switzerland has said it would support countries that do not have the technical and financial means to eliminate POPs.

Roch added that research into the environmental impact of new chemicals was needed and more toxic products might be added to the list.

The decision on where the permanent seat of the Convention will be located is to be decided in Uruguay in 2005. It is due to enter into force after ratification by 50 countries

To date, 34 countries have ratified the accord, with Switzerland last month becoming its most recent member.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The treaty sets up measures for controlling the production, import, export, disposal, and use of POPs.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are defined as chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.
Geneva is home to 190 international organisations including a number of United Nations agencies.

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