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INTRODUCTION TO THE CODE
PART 1 GENERAL PROVISIONS
IV. THE COMMITMENT TO IMPROVED
HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION RELATED TO THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN
PART II GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND
GUIDANCE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES
I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
II. GUIDANCE FOR THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Testing and Assessment
Classification, Packaging and
Provision of Information
Education and Training
Advertising and Marketing
PART III MONITORING AND FOLLOW-UP
CODE OF ETHICS ON THE
INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN
INTRODUCTION TO THE CODE
1. The code is general in nature and addressed industry and other private
sector parties in all countries with the aim of setting out the principles and guidance,
governing standards of conduct for the promotion of environmentally sound management of
chemicals in international trade. The standards of conduct set out in the principles and
guidance covers such activities as production and management of chemicals in international
trade, taking into account their entire life cycle.
2. The code is developed in response to decision 16/35 of the Governing
Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) of May 1991 entitled
"Toxic chemicals", and to Agenda 21, in particular its chapter 19 on
environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals which was adopted by the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 and
endorsed by resolution 47/190 of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1992.
3. The code is a complement to the amended London Guidelines for the
Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade 1) which address
Governments and the scope of the code is broader than that of the amended London
Guidelines. By the implementation of this code, the private sector parties are expected to
enter into voluntary commitment to help achieve the objectives of the amended London
Guidelines, i.e., to increase chemical safety and to enhance the sound management of
chemicals in all countries through the exchange of information on chemicals in
4. Some of the subjects addressed in the code apply not only to chemicals
in international trade but are generally applicable to all chemicals whether exported or
retained for domestic use. This is consistent with the idea that there should not be a
double standard vis a vis exported and domestically marketed chemicals with respect to
health, safety and the environment. In this regard, several provisions in this code
address chemicals in domestic and international trade.
5. The principles and guidance set out in the code apply globally and have
been developed to permit flexible application taking into account local conditions in
countries. There is a need to take full account of the special situation in developing
countries in order to achieve the highest possible level of human health and environmental
protection in all countries.
6. The code provides for procedures to monitor voluntary compliance by the
parties concerned with the standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance.
7. Subjects which are relevant to the management of chemicals for health
and environmental reasons, but which do not relate to chemicals in international trade,
have not been addressed in the code 2).
8. The code is developed fully taking into account the work already done
by private sector parties, in particular voluntary initiatives and programmes by industry.
It is designed to be compatible with those existing initiatives and programmes developed
and being implemented by the private sector parties. For the development of the code, the
International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was also fully taken into account.
9. The code is designed to be consistent with and complementary to
existing instruments developed by United Nations agencies, including those under UNEP,
FAO, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and
other intergovernmental organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD), avoiding any duplication.
10. This code should not be interpreted to preclude private sector parties
taking additional actions with respect to protection of health, safety and environment,
nor should the code have the effect of replacing existing voluntary codes. Private sector
parties should be encouraged to implement this code in a manner consistent with other
health, safety and environmental initiatives and to go beyond what is stated in the code.
11. The adoption of the code is a voluntary action of the private sector
parties 3). It is not intended that the approval of the Government is required for
adopting the code by the private sector parties.
12. This code should not be used by Governments or intergovernmental
organizations to sustain or create tariff or non-tariff barriers to trade in chemicals.
PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. The objective of this code is to set forth principles and guidance for
private sector parties, governing standards of conduct in the production and management of
chemicals in international trade, taking into account their entire life cycle, with the
purpose of reducing risks to human health and the environment which might be posed by such
II. DEFINITIONS 4)
2. For purposes of the code:
(a) "Banned chemical" means a chemical which
has, for health or environmental reasons, been prohibited for all uses by final
governmental regulatory action;
(b) "Severely restricted chemical" means a chemical for which
, for health or environmental reasons, virtually all uses have been prohibited nationally
by final government regulatory action, but for which certain specific uses remain
(c) "Hazardous chemical" means a chemical
which represents a threat to human or animal health or to the environment.
(d) "Private sector parties" means industry, workers and
their representatives, environmental and consumer groups and other non-governmental
organizations, and the public.
(e) "Industry" means all segments involved in production and
management of chemicals, taking into account their entire life cycle, including producers,
formulators, importers and exporters, traders, and transporters 5).
(f) "International trade in chemicals" means export or import
(g) "Export" and "import" mean, in their respective
connotations, the movement of a chemical from one State to another State, but exclude mere
(h) "Management" means the handling, supply transport,
storage, treatment, application or other use of a chemical subsequent to its initial
manufacture or formulation.
(i) "Prior informed consent"
(PIC) refers to the principle
that international shipment of a chemical that is banned or severely restricted in order
to protect human health and the environment should not proceed without the agreement,
where such agreement exists, or contrary to the decision of, the designated national
authority in the importing country. For the purpose of this code, "designated
national authority" means a national government authority designated for purposes of
information exchange and the prior informed consent procedure being carried out by UNEP
(j) "Prior informed consent procedure"
(PIC procedure) means
the procedure for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing
countries as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of chemicals which have been
banned or severely restricted, being carried out by UNEP and FAO.
(k) "PIC decision" means a decision by a importing country of
a chemical subject to the PIC procedure with respect to the future import of chemicals.
3. The code should not apply to:
(a) Pharmaceuticals, including narcotics, drugs and
(b) Radioactive materials;
(c) Chemicals imported for the purpose of research or analysis in
quantities not likely to affect the environment or human health;
(d) Chemicals imported as personal or household effects, in quantities
reasonable for these uses;
(e) Food additives.
IV. THE COMMITMENT TO
IMPROVED HEALTH, SAFETY
AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION RELATED TO
THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN CHEMICALS
4. Private sector parties involved in the international trade in
chemicals should make a commitment to undertake self-regulatory measures to meet the
standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance contained in Part II below in
order to ensure the safe production and management of chemicals in domestic and
international trade, taking into account their entire life cycle.
5. Private sector parties should recognize in the commitment their
shared responsibility, along with the governments of chemical exporting and importing
countries, for the protection of human health and the environment. In particular, business
and industry should recognize their responsibility for fully participating in the
implementation and evaluation of activities related to Agenda 21 7).
6. The private sector parties that have already entered into the
commitment under "Responsible Care" or a similar instrument consistent with this
code, such as the FAO Code of Conduct, are encouraged to make a declaration, expressing
that existing commitments are consistent with this code. The parties that have not made
commitment under "Responsible Care" or a similar instrument should demonstrate
their commitment by making an appropriate declaration in a written statement and publish
7. Private sector parties making such written declaration should notify
UNEP of their respective decisions to enter into commitment to meet the standards of
conduct set out in the principles and guidance contained in the code.
8. The parties that have made such written declaration under paragraph
5 and entered into voluntary commitment under the code should initiate necessary action to
meet the standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance below within 180 days
after the commitment is notified to UNEP.
9. The commitment by the private sector parties should include the
(a) Increase chemical safety and enhance the sound
production and management of chemicals, taking into account their entire life cycle, in
all countries by providing government authorities and relevant private sector parties with
relevant information on chemicals in domestic and international trade.
(b) Comply with the PIC procedure being carried out by UNEP and FAO to
the extent applicable to private sector parties.
10. Enterprises/companies involved in the production or management of
chemicals in domestic and international trade, taking into account their entire life
cycle, should demonstrate this commitment at all levels of their enterprises/companies,
starting with the highest level of management. This commitment should be communicated
throughout the enterprises/companies.
PART II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND GUIDANCE
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES
I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
11. Having agreed to take appropriate actions to protect human health
and the environment from adverse effects from the production and management of chemicals
in international trade, taking into account their entire life cycle, and to promote
chemical safety, private sector parties should:
(a) Act in accordance with the guidance set out in this code, and
develop the means for applying the guidance in a manner appropriate to local
(b) Allocate the resources necessary for the application of the
guidance to their own activities;
(c) Enhance co-operation among private sector parties as well as with
government agencies and relevant international organizations for the promotion the code;
(d) Cooperate with local community to address problems related to
chemicals in international trade and solving such problems, including the provision of
12. Enterprises/companies involved in the international trade in
chemicals, such as producers, formulators, transporters, traders including exporters and
(a) Develop management systems to enable the proper
production and management of chemicals, taking into account their entire life cycle;
(b) To the extent practicable, evaluate and do business with suppliers,
contract manufacturers, transporters, traders and professional users who meet applicable
safety, health and environmental criteria.
13. Private sector parties should promote the application of the
guidance set out in the code by:
(a) Establishing the means for sharing experience with various private
sector parties, including those parties in different countries or regions, and, as
appropriate, with relevant government authorities, concerning measures taken in accordance
with the code;
(b) Offering assistance to others who produce and manage chemicals,
taking into account their entire life cycle.
14. Private sector parties should work with government authorities
responsible for health and environmental protection from harmful effect of chemicals in
international trade, including customs offices, in accordance with the principles and
guidance in the code.
15. Private sector parties should take initiatives to assist in the
implementation of internationally agreed instruments related to chemicals in international
trade, in particular the prior informed consent procedure being carried out by UNEP and
FAO, as well as those instruments related to chemical accident prevention, preparedness
and response 8).
16. Private sector parties, in co-operation with Governments and
relevant international organizations, should establish a procedure for reviewing and
revising the code, as appropriate.
II. GUIDANCE FOR THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES
17. The following guidance, set out in seven categories, represent the
standards of conduct which should be undertaken in order to fulfil the commitment and
general principles set out above. Private sector parties should apply the paragraphs
relevant to them, in a way which will be effective under their particular circumstances.
A. Reducing Risks
18. Chemical producers and formulators should:
(a) Make every reasonable effort, to the extent
practicable, to reduce risks by:
(i) Introducing appropriate procedures to minimize
adverse health and environmental effects from chemicals being manufactured and managed,
taking into account their entire life cycle, under both normal operating conditions as
well as emergency situations.
(ii) Developing safer packaging, and using clear and concise
taking into account existing international scheme with respect to packaging and
(iii) Take initiatives, to the extent possible, in following chemicals
to the ultimate consumer, keeping track of any problems arising in actual use of the
chemicals, as a basis for changes in labelling, directions and packaging.
(b) When safe manufacture and management of a chemical,
taking into account its entire life cycle, does not seem possible, voluntarily take
corrective action and help find solutions to difficulties.
(c) Halt manufacturing and trade, and recall products when appropriate
due to the unacceptable risks associated with the product.
19. Chemical producers, formulators and traders should:
(a) Co-operate with relevant government authorities of
importing countries and comply with their PIC decisions, recognizing that this might be
dependent upon the governments of exporting countries fulfilling their responsibility to
transmit to their industry the PIC decisions of importing countries under the PIC
(b) Co-operate with government authorities in order to ensure
implementation of the export notification procedures for banned or severely restricted
chemicals, where applicable.
20. Industry should:
(a) Whenever possible, endeavour to reduce the quantity
of hazardous chemicals used.
(b) Co-operate with government authorities in activities related to
chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response, including the development of
emergency preparedness plans and support international activities in this area 10).
(c) In co-operation with the Government, ensure safe management and
disposal of chemicals, taking into account their entire life cycle.
21. Private sector parties should ensure that transfer of know-how for
the production of chemicals be subject to the standards of conduct set out in the code.
B. Testing and Assessment
22. Chemical producers and formulators should:
(a) As regards new chemicals, produce and commercialize
only the chemicals that are known to have gone through a process of testing and assessment
that is conducted in accordance with national laws and regulations or internationally
accepted procedures and updated where appropriate, and where necessary, taking into
account the specific conditions of intended use. This testing and assessment should
provide the necessary basis for an evaluation of the risks of the chemical in order to
allow appropriate actions to protect human health and the environment 11).
(b) Provide summaries of the reports of such testing and assessment to
government authorities and, upon request, provide these authorities with the full reports
in accordance with applicable national laws and regulations, where such laws and
regulations have been in force.
(c) Identify reasonably foreseeable uses and misuses of chemicals and,
in order to do so, seek feedback from occupational users on use and misuse of chemicals.
To the extent appropriate, undertake additional testing and revision of assessment taking
into account the information on uses and misuses of chemicals.
(d) Ensure that proposed uses,
labelling, information and advertising
reflect the results of the testing and assessment.
(e) Provide, as appropriate, chemical producers and formulators in
other countries or government authorities with advice and assistance related to testing
and assessment, including assistance in the interpretation and evaluation of data.
(f) Ensure that contract manufacturers are kept informed of new
significant health, safe and environmental data on chemicals in international trade.
C. Quality Assurance
23. Chemical producers and formulators should:
(a) Maintain quality assurance procedures to ensure that
chemicals comply with relevant human health and environmental standards and
specifications, including non-exploitation of products which are out of date and, to this
end, co-operate with government authorities, as appropriate.
(b) Ensure, to the extent possible, that chemicals manufactured or
formulated by a subsidiary company or a contract manufacturer meets appropriate human
health and environmental requirements and standards which are consistent with the
requirements of the country of manufacture as well as those of the parent or contracting
24. Chemical producers, formulator and traders should ensure that the
quality of a chemical complies with the information in the attached label and with the
literature and specifications published by a chemical's manufacturer.
Packaging and Labelling
25. Chemical producers, formulators and traders should:
(a) Ensure that:
(i) chemicals are
(ii) labels include appropriate recommendations, instructions,
warnings, precautions and first aid information;
(iii) labels show appropriate hazard classifications;
(iv) labels provide appropriate lot or batch information;
(v) labels are in a format appropriate for traders, transporters and
occupational users with respect to, for example the language used and the use of symbols
(b) Ensure that classification, packaging and labelling
of chemicals conform to applicable international rules, regulations and guidelines, such
as the FAO Guidelines, including, for example those dealing with transportation. Where no
such international rules, regulations or guidelines are available, an appropriate national
or regional system for classification, packaging and labelling should be applied.
Labelling requirements should cover:
(i) information to be given in the label;
(ii) legibility, durability and size of the label;
(iii) uniformity of labels and symbols, including
26. Traders and transporters should ensure that chemicals are handled
and transported safely in accordance with the information in the labels attached to the
E. Provision of Information
27. Chemical producers and formulators should:
(a) Provide occupational users, traders, transporters
and contract manufacturers with appropriate information and guidance, which should be kept
up-dated, to enable proper development, manufacture and management of all chemicals,
taking into account their entire life cycle. Safety data sheets (or material safety data
sheets) should be prepared for hazardous chemicals and be provided to occupational users,
traders, and contract manufacturers to the extent that this could improve safety in the
handling and use of the chemicals.
(b) Provide information and instructions in a form and language which
will ensure safe and effective use of a chemical.
(c) Ensure consistency of all safety information provided on a given
(d) Provide government authorities and consumers with relevant
(i) health and environmental hazards which might be
posed by chemicals in international trade;
(ii) recommended protective measures;
(iii) first aid measures.
In providing such information, claims for protection of
confidential and proprietary information should not compromise the overriding objective of
protecting health and the environment and promoting safety.
(e) Provide the information on safe handling of
chemicals when they are outdated or expired.
28. Industry should:
(a) Make reasonable efforts to ensure that the
information relevant to health and environmental protection from harmful effects of
chemicals reaches the occupational users or traders in importing countries. The
information should be included in the labels attached to the packages whenever possible.
(b) Co-operate with governments and competent international
organizations for the purpose of information exchange, including the provision of
information, upon request, to a government authority in an importing country concerning
banned or severely restricted chemicals and alternatives to such chemicals.
(c) Communicate on health, safety and environmental matters to
government authorities and other interested parties. In this regard, industry should
establish and implement policies to ensure openness in health, safety and environmental
information in a manner appropriate to local circumstances.
(d) Assist UNEP to establish databases to be used by designated
national authorities for registration and monitoring of chemicals, taking into account
their entire life cycle, and for attention to emergencies.
F. Education and Training
29. For the purpose of preventing harmful effects of chemicals in
international trade to health and the environment, industry should continue to:
(a) Educate and train employees at all levels on the
proper management of chemicals, taking into account their entire life cycle.
(b) Provide employees with safety data sheets or similar relevant
(c) Educate and train relevant employees so that they can advise
occupational users and traders on the proper management of chemicals, taking into account
their entire life cycle.
(d) Disseminate educational information to,
inter alia, chemical
handlers and consumers, as well as other interested parties such as medical personnel and
customs officials, through a coordinated effort of Governments, international
organizations and industry.
(e) Provide support for training of occupational users and government
authorities in importing countries, including training for emergency responses.
G. Advertising and Marketing
30. Recognizing difference in countries, and with a view to providing
accurate information of chemicals to ultimate consumers, such as occupational users,
(a) Ensure that advertising is consistent with the standards of conduct
set out in the code. Statements used in advertising should be capable of technical
substantiation. Advertising should not be likely to mislead any buyer, in particular with
regard to safety or suitability of use. Advertisements should not encourage uses
inconsistent with approved labels or at variance with generally-accepted recommendations.
Advertising should draw attention to warnings and should encourage careful reading of
(b) Encourage importing enterprises/companies and relevant trade
associations to cooperate in order to achieve fair and safe marketing and trade practices
and to help government authorities to stamp out malpractice.
PART III. MONITORING AND FOLLOW-UP
31. Industry, non-governmental organizations, workers and consumers
unions, and other relevant public interest groups, in cooperation with Governments and
international organizations, should:
(a) Take active role to monitor activities of industry
and other private sector parties involved in the international trade in chemicals as to
whether those activities are in compliance with the standards of conduct set out in the
principles and guidance above.
(b) Report the results of the monitoring to government authorities and
competent international organizations, such as UNEP, with a view to:
(i) Improving performance of industry and other private sector parties
involved in the international trade in chemicals;
(ii) Assisting Governments to adopt or amend national laws, regulations
and administrative measures governing activities in the international trade in chemicals.
(iii) Co-operating with Governments and international organizations to
develop relevant international instruments.
(c) Communicate on health, safety and environmental
matters related to chemicals in international trade with other interested parties.
32. Industry is encouraged to cooperate with UNEP and non-governmental
organizations in the implementation and monitoring of the standards of conduct set out in
the principles and guidance above.
33. Industry should ensure that workers and others are not punished for
monitoring and reporting its performance to Governments, international organizations and
relevant private sector parties.
34. Private sector parties are encouraged to enter into voluntary
agreements with Governments for the application of the standards of conduct set out in the
principles and guidance above.
35. Private sector parties, in cooperation with Governments and
international organizations such as UNEP, should promote the code to extend the parties
committed to apply the standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance above.
36. Private sector parties should develop procedures for
self-evaluation to assess performance in undertaking self-regulatory measures to meet the
standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance above.
37. Private sector parties, in cooperation with Governments and
international organizations, should periodically monitor compliance, review and revise, as
appropriate, the code at international fora which will be convened by UNEP subject to the
availability of resources.
38. UNEP will, within available resources:
(a) maintain, up-date and publish a list of those
private sector parties that have entered into commitment under the code;
(b) compile and publish reports on progress in the application of the
standards of conduct set out in the principles and guidance above.
United Nations (1993): Agenda 21, Chapter 19 "Environmentally
Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals, including prevention of illegal international traffic
in toxic and dangerous products", Report of the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992 (A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1,
Vol.I), United Nations, New York.
International information exchange and the PIC procedure
UNEP (1989): London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on
Chemicals in International Trade, (1987, amended 1989), UNEP, Nairobi.
FAO (1989): International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and
Use of Pesticides (1985, amended 1989), FAO, Rome.
FAO/UNEP (1991): Guidance for Governments: Operation of the Prior
Informed Consent Procedure for Banned or Severely Restricted Chemicals in International
Trade, FAO/UNEP, Rome/Geneva.
Information on regulatory measures on chemicals
United Nations (1991): Consolidated List of Products Whose
Consumption and/or Sale Have Been Banned, Withdrawn, Severely Restricted or Not Approved,
Fourth edition, United Nations, New York.
UNEP-International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals
(1993): IRPTC Legal File 1992-1993, UNEP/United Nations, Geneva/New York.
Chemicals at work
ILO (1990): Convention No. 170 and Recommendation No. 177 on Safety
in the Use of Chemicals at Work, ILO, Geneva.
ILO (1993): Code of Practice on Safety in the Use of Chemicals at
Work, ILO, Geneva.
Preparedness and response for emergencies
UNEP-Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre (IE/PAC)
(1988): Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL): A Process
for Responding to Technological Accidents, UNEP, Paris.
ILO (1988): Major Hazard Control: A practical manual,
International Directory of Emergency
Response Centres, OECD Environment Monographs No.43/UNEP-IE/PAC Technical Report Series
No.8, OECD/UNEP, Paris.
OECD (1992): Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention,
Preparedness and Response: Guidance for Public Authorities, Industry, Labour and Others
for the Establishment of Programmes and Policies related to Prevention of, Preparedness
for, and Response to Accidents Involving Hazardous Substances, OECD Environment Monograph
No.51, OECD, Paris.
ILO (1991): Code of Practice on Prevention of Major Industrial
Accidents, ILO, Geneva.
ILO (1993): Convention No. 174 and Recommendation No. 181 concerning
the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents, ILO, Geneva.
United Nations (1993): Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous
Goods, Eighth revised edition, United Nations, New York.
1) The amended London Guidelines were
adopted by the fifteenth session of the Governing Council of the United Nations
Environment Programme on 25 May 1989.
2) This includes, for example, issues
related to process safety and accident prevention, preparedness and response at fixed
installations. International guidance materials have been prepared to address many of
these subjects. References to a selection of these guidance materials have been included
in the attached bibliography.
3) In a country where the government
owns or has interest in chemical industry, "industry" and "private sector
parties" may be read "enterprises".
4) Definitions of "banned
chemical", "severely restricted chemical", "international trade",
"export", "import", "management", "prior informed
consent", "prior informed consent procedure" are identical to those in the
amended London Guidelines.
5) Where appropriate, some sections
refer specifically to particular segments of the industry, for example chemical producers
and formulators. In those countries in which some or all sectors of industry are owned
and/or operated by government offices, it is expected that the parts of the code directed
to industry would apply to the government agencies to the extent they are responsible for
the relevant industrial activity.
6) The exemptions are identical to
those set out in guideline 3 of the amended London Guidelines.
7) Agenda 21, chapter 30, paragraph 1.
8) References will be found in the
selected bibliography attached to the code.
9) Paragraph 7.4(b) of the amended
10) References will be found in the
11) For existing chemicals, assessment
could be done based on existing data, recognizing ongoing effort in this area.