The Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC)

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is a global treaty that came into force in February 2004. As of April 2023, 165 countries, called Parties, have ratified the Convention.

The Convention’s objective is to promote shared responsibility and cooperation among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human and environment health from potential harm and to secure the responsible and sound use of such products when necessary. This is accomplished by:

  • facilitating information exchange about the characteristics of potentially hazardous chemicals
  • providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export
  • disseminating these decisions to Parties

The Convention applies to industrial chemicals and pesticides that have been banned or severely restricted in Parties.

The key objectives of the Rotterdam Convention are information exchange on potentially hazardous chemicals, pesticides and pesticide formulations as well as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The PIC procedure is a legally binding process.

  • The PIC listing If the CRC considers that the two notifications satisfy the requirements in Annex II, it forwards the DGD for consideration of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention.
  • A Party that is a developing country or a country with an economy in transition can propose the listing of a severely hazardous pesticide formulation (SHPF) if it experiences problems with a formulation under conditions of use. The Chemical Review Committee also reviews these notifications and SHPF listing proposals for certain criteria and decides on the listing recommendation.
  • The Parties of the Rotterdam Convention, meet every two years to take decisions on the recommendations of the CRC. If a consensus is reached during the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, the chemical is listed in Annex III.
  • The PIC listing of a substance is not a recommendation for Parties or other countries to ban or severely restrict its use. The list of chemicals subject to the PIC procedure is not a blacklist to ban chemicals. PIC listing does not mean that a substance cannot be used safely. A
  • The PIC procedure enhances the control of certain substances in international trade – importing Parties have to decide whether or not they consent to imports of PIC listed chemicals and exporting Parties must ensure that their exporters comply with those decisions.

Import decisions

The PIC procedure allows Parties to the Convention to take informed decisions on the import of substances and pesticide formulations listed in Annex III of the Convention, the so-called PIC list. Once a chemical or pesticide is listed on Annex III of the Convention, Parties are requested to inform the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat whether they consent to its import or not.

If Parties provide their consent to import, the chemical or pesticide can be traded, complying with information requirements as laid out under the Convention.

If an importing Party decides not to grant their consent for further imports or decides to import such substance (s) only under certain conditions, the decision must be equally applied to imports from all sources and to domestic manufacturing for local use. PIC must not be used to protect the local market from competition.

In the absence of an import decision from an importing Party, the export may proceed if (i) the pesticide is registered in the Party, (ii) it has previously been used or imported into the Party, or (iii) an explicit import consent has been sought and received by the exporter.

Exporting Parties must ensure that their exporters comply with the decisions of the importing Parties.

Making a chemical, a pesticide, or a formulation subject to the PIC procedure does not mean that the chemical or formulation is globally banned, recommended for banning or cannot be used safely.

CropLife International’s position on the Rotterdam Convention

CropLife International supports the Rotterdam Convention and the on Pesticide Management. The Rotterdam Convention represents an instrumental element in the safe management of chemicals, especially for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

The Rotterdam Convention and its PIC procedure can support but not substitute robust and effective national and / or regional regulations, which are of overarching importance to all matters of pesticide registration, pesticide trade and use and overall management of pesticides. Fully informed decisions can only be made with a functional registration scheme.

CropLife International advocates for the application of science- and risk-based principles when assessing relevant criteria for listing. CropLife International retains a strong interest in the integrity of the transparent and evidence-based processes under the legally binding Convention.

CropLife International supports the transparent implementation of the Convention as a means of continuously improving its operation.

Countries and stakeholders should not consider PIC as a recommendation to ban or severely restrict the use of a chemical or pesticide product .