In February 2009, the Governing Council of UNEP adopted Decision 25/5 on the development of a global legally binding instrument on mercury. At the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held from 9 to 11 October 2013 in Minamata and Kumamoto, Japan, the “Minamata Convention on Mercury” was formally adopted and opened for signature by States and regional economic integration organizations.
The work to prepare this instrument has been undertaken by an intergovernmental negotiating committee supported by the Chemicals Branch of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics as secretariat. The mandate was to complete the negotiations before the twenty-seventh regular session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in 2013. The mandate has been met.
Participation in the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) was open to all Governments as well as intergovernmental organizations and representatives from the civil society as observers.
The committee has operated under the rules of procedure adopted at its first session. As its first act the committee elected Mr. Fernando Lugris (Uruguay) Chair of the committee, as well as nine vice-chairs that together form the Bureau of the INC.
The work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee has been carried out over five sessions:
Following the conclusion of the negotiations at INC5, the text was adopted and opened for signature at a Diplomatic Conference (Conference of Plenipotentiaries), held in Minamata and Kumamoto, Japan, from 9 to 11 October 2013. The DipCon was preceded by a Preparatory Meeting from 7 to 8 October 2013 in Kumamoto.
Regional meetings were organized to assist Governments in their preparations for the negotiating sessions.
A "Mercury Club" was established to recognize financial and in-kind support received from Governments and others throughout the negotiations process.
A representative from civil society presented a sculpture to the intergovernmental negotiating committee symbolizing the irreversible consequences of mercury contamination and the important responsibility that Governments had in reaching an effective agreement to reduce and ultimately eliminate mercury emissions in the environment. The sculpture, entitled “Pez-Peste”, was specially created and donated by the Argentine artist Nicolas Garcia Uriburu and is the symbol for the Convention. It has followed the committee throughout the negotiations process and has been presented at the DipCon to Katsuaki Miyamoto, Mayor of Minamata, for permanent display at the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum.
Sculpture"Pez-Peste", Artist: Nicolas Garcia Uriburu
To prepare for the work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee, the Governing Council had established an Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group to discuss the negotiating priorities, timetable and organization of the intergovernmental negotiating committee.