Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental
and Scientific Affairs
Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants
Punta del Este, Uruguay
May 5, 2005
Following is the Statement delivered by Claudia A. McMurray,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and
Head of the United States Delegation to the First Meeting
of the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention
on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Punta del Este, Uruguay,
May 5, 2005.
Mr. Chairman, Ministers, Distinguished Colleagues:
It is a great pleasure to speak on behalf
of the United States at this first Conference of Parties
to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs). The entry into force of the Stockholm Convention
is a landmark event in the global effort to protect the
earth’s environment. I join others in thanking the
UN Environment Program for its commitment to managing the
POPs process over the last decade and the Government of
Uruguay for hosting the first Conference of Parties in this
beautiful city of Punta del Este.
The United States was a leader in pushing
for a global treaty to address the very real risks posed
by these highly toxic chemicals. In fact, the proposal to
negotiate this agreement was first made in 1995 at the Washington
Conference on Land-Based Sources of Marine Pollution, which
the United States hosted. We took a leading role and actively
participated in and supported the negotiations over the
six year period that concluded with the Stockholm Convention.
Today, the United States remains as committed as ever to
this important global environmental agreement.
In 2001, President Bush strongly endorsed
the Stockholm Convention and directed his Administration
to work with our Congress to secure the legislative changes
required to ratify the accord. The Convention’s ratification
continues to be an extremely high priority for this Administration.
Because of our complex domestic legislative
process, which involves the work of several important Congressional
committees, U.S. ratification has taken longer than anticipated.
As a consequence, we regrettably were not able to become
a party to the Convention before this meeting. There remains
strong and broad-based domestic support for this international
agreement in the United States, including from industry,
the agricultural community and non-governmental organizations.
It is our strong hope that the domestic ratification process
will be completed as soon as possible so that the United
States can participate as a Party at the next Stockholm
Convention Conference of the Parties.
Current science demonstrates that we in
the global community were right to develop this agreement.
In the United States we continue to see evidence of significant
deposition of certain POPs chemicals in remote regions,
far from any sources of their production and use. Concentrations
of some substances are increasing even though the United
States banned or severely restricted the chemicals covered
by the Stockholm Convention decades ago. The risks are especially
high for our indigenous populations, who rely heavily on
certain fish, marine mammal, and wildlife species.
The impacts of these chemicals on the countries
and regions where they remain in production and use are
even more severe. The problems are particularly acute in
developing countries, many of which lack the means to develop
and utilize alternatives to several of the POPs chemicals.
This situation provides an excellent opportunity for developed
and developing countries to work together to address a common
concern. The United States has already spent over $20 million
assisting several developing countries in building capacity
in this area. In addition, the Stockholm Convention itself
includes a flexible system of financial and technical assistance
for developing countries, using the Global Environment Facility
as the interim funding mechanism. We intend to continue
supporting these and other efforts to promote the sound
management of POPs in those countries that still use them.
While we have been meeting here this week,
the United States has worked hard with other countries to
ensure that effective scientific and technical procedures
are adopted for implementing the agreement. These procedures
in reality will form the bedrock for the future of the Stockholm
Convention. They will provide the mechanism for protecting
citizens throughout the world from the real risks of these
dangerous chemicals. This week the Conference of the Parties
has been reviewing important guidelines for best available
techniques and practices for minimizing the risk posed by
POPs, and for the environmentally sound management of wastes.
We were pleased to share our technical expertise in the
development of these guidelines, including through serving
as co-chair of the Best Available Techniques/Best Environmental
Practices Experts Group.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, this week we have
made a strong start in the effort to eliminate POPs from
the globe. We in the United States greatly appreciate the
collegial efforts of the countries gathered here this week
to implement this important global agreement. We look forward
to continued close cooperation in addressing the serious
problems associated with the release of POPs.