The Minamata Convention

This global agreement is an important step forward in protecting public health and the environment from mercury pollution, although some areas of the treaty leave much to be desired.

Negotiated over several years and signed at a diplomatic conference in Japan in October 2013, the Minamata treaty sets a phase-out date of 2020 for most mercury containing products—including thermometers and blood pressure devices, and calls for the phase-down of dental amalgam. This is a significant victory for environmentally sustainable health care based on more than 15 years of work by HCWH and thousands of partners around the world.

The WHO-HCWH Mercury-free Health Care Initiative will strive to support implementation of this aspect of the treaty. See WHO-HCWH Mercury-Free Health Care 2020.

However, the treaty’s strictures on coal fired power plants and artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) —the two largest sources of mercury emissions—are relatively weak, creating a situation where overall global mercury pollution may continue to climb despite the global agreement. For more analysis on the treaty see HCWH Views on the Global Mercury Treaty