Nineteen years after the Basel Ban was adopted it still has not garnered the necessary ratifications to enter into force. This article aims to revisit the Basel Ban and understand it from the perspective of a developing country, particularly the Philippines, and draw out possible obstacles it faces in ratifying this instrument of international environmental justice. In addition the article will review the major issues raised by those opposed to the Basel Ban and verify if these concerns raised nineteen years ago still hold true today.
This article has four main sections. The first section of this article briefly looks at the roots of international environmental justice in domestic environmental justice. The second section reviews the rise of toxic waste trade in the 1980s and the eventual rise of the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban. The article delves into the framework of the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban, their weaknesses and the elements of environmental justice found in both instruments.
The third part of the article examines the current landscape of the Basel Ban from the perspective of a developing country, the Philippines. The Philippines is similar to many developing countries, with its high incidence of poverty and its own experience with illegal toxic waste trade. The Philippine perspective is important because it was a party to the Basel Convention when the Basel Ban was adopted. Thus, it is one of the qualifying countries whose ratification is needed for the Basel Ban to enter into force. Moreover, the Philippines is often cited as a case where the Basel Ban could cause adverse impacts on the local recycling industry and in turn affect national development.
In examining the Philippine context, the article focuses on the trade in used lead acid batteries (ULABs) and electronic waste (e-waste) and where the country derives these wastes for its recycling industry. The article will also examine the "anti-trade" arguments leveled against the Basel Ban and the agreements that the Philippines has entered into to see the precedents the government is following, if any.
The last section of this article is the conclusion. What is critical at this point in the ongoing saga of the Basel Ban is for countries to reexamine the issues surrounding the Basel Ban, and see if the arguments of the past still hold true. Undoubtedly, the Basel Ban has firmly left its mark in international law. Whether it remains a paper tiger will depend on the perseverance of developing countries to fight for this principle at the international level and ratify the instrument, and its observance and implementation nationally at the domestic level.
International Environmental Justice on Hold: Revisiting the Basel Ban from a Philippine Perspective,
24 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/delpf/vol24/iss2/4