Rotterdam Convention •What is RC? • Overview

How does it work?

The Players
Parties and their Designated National Authorities (DNAs) – Parties are countries or regional economic integration organizations that have ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to the Convention. Each Party must designate one or more national authorities, which are the primary contact points for matters related to the operation of the Convention and are authorized to perform the administrative functions required by the Convention.
Conference of the Parties (COP) - The Conference of the Parties oversees the operation of the Convention and makes decisions regarding amendments to the Convention, including the addition of chemicals to Annex III. 
Chemical Review Committee (CRC) - The Chemical Review Committee is a subsidiary body of the COP.  Its members are government designated experts in chemicals management.  Its responsibilities include reviewing notifications and proposals from Parties, and making recommendations to the COP on the addition of chemicals to Annex III.
Secretariat - The Secretariat for the Rotterdam Convention is provided jointly by FAO and UNEP. The functions of the Secretariat include making administrative arrangements for meetings of the COP and its subsidiary bodies, verifying information accompanying notifications and proposals, disseminating import responses provided by the Parties, facilitating assistance to developing country Parties, facilitating information exchange between Parties and ensuring coordination with other  international organizations.
The Mechanism
To achieve its objectives the Convention includes two key provisions, namely the Prior Informed Consent ( PIC) procedure and information exchange.
The Prior Informed Consent ( PIC) procedure – The PIC procedure is a mechanism for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of those chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting Parties.
The PIC Procedure is a mechanism for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of those chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting Parties.
For each of the chemicals listed in Annex III and subject to the PIC procedure a decision guidance document (DGD) is prepared and sent to all Parties. The DGD is intended to help governments assess the risks connected with the handling and use of the chemical and make more informed decisions about future import and use of the chemical, taking into account local conditions. 
All Parties are required to take a decision as to whether or not they will allow future import of each of the chemicals in Annex III of the Convention. These decisions, known as import responses, are sent to the Secretariat by the DNA.  A listing of the import responses given for each chemical subject to the PIC procedure is circulated by the Secretariat to all DNAs every six months via the PIC Circular. Import decisions taken by Parties must be trade neutral, that is, if the Party decides not to accept imports of a specific chemical, it must also stop domestic production of the chemical for domestic use and refuse imports from any source, including from non-parties. 
All exporting Parties are required to ensure that exports of chemicals subject to the PIC procedure do not occur contrary to the decision of each importing Party. They should ensure that import responses published in the PIC Circular are immediately communicated to their exporters, industry and any other relevant authorities, such as the Department of Customs.

Information Exchange - The Convention facilitates information exchange among Parties for a very broad range of potentially hazardous chemicals. The Convention requires each Party to notify the Secretariat when taking a domestic regulatory action to ban or severely restrict a chemical.  A developing country Party or a Party with an economy in transition that is experiencing problems caused by a severely hazardous pesticide formulation may report such problems to the Secretariat. All Parties receive summaries of these notifications and proposals on a regular basis via the PIC Circular. When a chemical that is banned or severely restricted by a Party is exported from its territory, that Party must notify each individual importing Party before the first shipment and annually thereafter. Exports of banned or severely restricted chemicals, as well as chemicals subject to the PIC procedure, are to be appropriately labeled and accompanied by basic health and safety information in the form of a safety data sheet.