Preventing, detecting and acting against the illegal transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes (“illegal traffic”) is a crucial element in the global waste challenge.
The Basel Convention is one of the very few environmental treaties to define a prohibited activity as “criminal”. The fact that illegal traffic is deemed a crime that Parties undertake to prevent and punish says a lot about the international community’s commitment to the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes. Illegal traffic of hazardous waste is unfortunately still very common in all corners of the world.
Under the Basel Convention, illegal traffic is defined as a transboundary movement of hazardous wastes:
- without notification pursuant to the provisions of the Convention to all States concerned;
- without the consent of a State concerned;
- through consent obtained by falsification, misrepresentation or fraud;
- that does not conform in a material way with the documents; or
- that results in deliberate disposal (eg. dumping) of hazardous wastes in contravention of the Convention and of general principles of international law.
Common methods of illegal traffic include making false declarations, the concealment, mixture or double layering of the materials in a shipment and the mislabelling of individual containers. Such methods seek to misrepresent the actual contents of a said shipment and, because of this, the meticulous and thorough scrutiny of national enforcement officers is required to detect cases of illegal traffic.
The Secretariat undertakes technical assistance activities as mandated by the Conference of the Parties. Such activities may be directed at any stakeholder involved in the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes. for instance Competent Authorities, Customs, police, prosecutors and judges.