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Seychelles adopts UN Global Treaty on Mercury

Seychelles adopts UN Global Treaty on Mercury ( On Saturday, January 19, 2013, in Geneva, during the Global Mercury Treaty meeting, although environmental activists lamented, delegations from some 140 countries, including Seychelles, agreed to adopt a ground-breaking treaty limiting the use and emissions of health-hazardous mercury.

The world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury, reached after a week of thorny talks, aims to reduce global emission levels of the toxic heavy metal also known as quicksilver, which poses risks to human health and the environment.

Seychelles was represented at the meeting by Mr. Vivian Radegonde, Principal Chemist of the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS).

“This was a herculean task… but we have succeeded,” Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and head of the UN environment program (UNEP), told reporters in Geneva.

“It is quite remarkable how much mercury in a sense has entered into use in our lives… We’ve been creating a terrible legacy,” said Mr. Steiner.

“Mercury accumulates in the food chain through fish… It is released through coal fired power stations and it travels sometimes thousands of kilometers. It affects the Inuit in Canada just as it affects the small-scale artisanal gold miner somewhere in southern Africa,” he added.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury treaty, named in honor of the Japanese town, Minamata, where inhabitants for decades have suffered the consequences of serious mercury contaminated fish. The text will be signed Minamata in October 2013 in a Diplomatic Conference and will take effect once it has been ratified by 50 countries – something organizers expect will take three to four years.

PHOTO: Mr. Vivian Radegonde, Principal Chemist of the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), during the Global Mercury Treaty meeting in Geneva. / Photo from Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture


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