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Why stopped the negotiations in Paris for two days?

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The 175 countries that have met since Monday 29 May in Paris to outline the first outlines of a treaty against plastic pollution have failed to begin negotiations on the substance of the matter because of deadlock over the final adoption rules for the text.

Saudi Arabia and several Gulf states as well as Russia, China, India and even Brazil refuse to have the future treaty approved by a two-thirds majority if no consensus is found.

sequel after announcement

In contrast, the majority of states advocate voting as a last resort, making it possible to bypass the obstructing minority. Or they consider, at the very least, that this question can be decided later.

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The debate, which began in plenary on Monday afternoon, once again occupied all delegations for the day on Tuesday. The plenum was adjourned at the beginning of the evening and an informal group was tasked with continuing the exchanges with the mandate to find a solution that would allow negotiations to begin on Wednesday, May 31 in the morning.

“Some countries’ strategy is to delay discussions”

“We miss what brings us here, which is plastic pollution”Camila Zepeda thundered from the Mexican delegation on Tuesday morning. “We waste time and energy on discussions that take place in circles (…) Let’s get to the point”She claimed that the majority of delegations and NGO observers present in the stands gave her warm praise.

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Member States have the right to submit proposals. And “We do not support the misidentification of the consensus of certain countries”A diplomat from Iran, a country also opposed, responded. According to a European negotiator, “The question is already settled.” During the first round of negotiations at the end of 2022 in Uruguay, “And these countries are trying to come back.”.

sequel after announcement

“Some countries’ strategy is to delay discussions”Joan-Marc Simon, Director of Zero Waste Europe, appreciates, “Because if we want an ambitious treaty that covers the entire life cycle of plastics, it will take time to negotiate.”. No draft agreement has yet been put forward, and the Paris summit, which ends on Friday, will be followed by three more negotiating meetings by the end of 2024.

Hesitating countries want to exclude many unfavorable subjects

For Joan Marc Simon, “These countries want a treaty, but it only talks about the end of the life of plastic, improving waste management and avoiding releases into the environment.”. Thus excluding issues of low production, toxicity of some compounds, microplastics, etc.

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“It is now two days since the global plastics treaty was banned by a coalition of reluctant nations led by Saudi Arabia.”On Tuesday evening, Greenpeace official Graham Forbes abounded: “We call on countries to stop wasting time and start discussing issues critical to solving the plastic pollution crisis”.

The Paris Climate Agreement or the Kunming-Montreal Convention on Biological Diversity was approved unanimously, like most treaties created under the auspices of the United Nations, that is, without a vote, even by a show of hands.

However, approval by vote, for lack of consensus, would not be unprecedented. It was especially used in 2013 when 140 countries adopted the International Convention on Mercury, signed in Minamata (Japan).

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