Minamata Convention on Mercury

In February 2009, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) agreed on the need to develop a global legally binding instrument, or treaty, on mercury. It tasked governments to negotiate through an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) on Mercury, which met five times beginning in June 2010 and concluding in January 2013.

The resulting international instrument is called the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Opened for signature in October 2013, it provides controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. It is named after the city in Japan where residents suffered debilitating and lethal health effects due to mercury pollution in the mid-20th Century.

The Minamata Convention and dental amalgam

The Convention’s provisions for dental amalgam—a mercury-added product containing 50% mercury—make it highly relevant to the dental profession. Dental amalgam is a key restorative material in the fight against dental caries, the cause of tooth decay, which afflicts 90 percent of the world’s population, making it a global public health issue. Dental amalgam is the only mercury-added product subject to a phase-down. All other uses of mercury in products addressed in the Convention are subject to a ban or phase-out (ban to take effect at a later date). The Convention does, however, set out nine provisions for its use.

Entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Convention shall enter on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.’
View the latest information on ratification

Impact on the dental profession

Dental professionals living in a country that has ratified the Convention need to be aware of the direct impact this will have on their profession. In addition, National Dental Associations (NDAs), their partners and individual dental professionals have a critical role to play in ensuring that the impact is positive. They should take an active role by helping inform governments about opportunities to improve health and protect the environment within the context of the Convention without diminishing the importance of clinically proven, cost-effective and affordable oral-health care.

FDI Guidelines for Successful Implementation

FDI Guidelines for Successful Implementation are designed to:

  1. Equip members of National Dental Associations (NDAs) with the necessary knowledge about the contents and provisions of the recently-agreed Minamata Convention on Mercury for their meetings with politicians, government officials, the media and other stakeholders;
  2. Advise NDAs about the obligations and opportunities for the dental sector derived from the commitments and provisions of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) 6

The sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6) is scheduled to take place from 3 - 7 November 2014 at the premises of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. The session will be preceded by regional consultations on 2 November 2014. The aim is to facilitate the rapid entry into force of the Convention and its effective implementation upon its entry into force.

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