1.5 International obligations

The NWMS must give effect to South Africa’s international obligations in terms of waste management9.

The modern system of global environmental governance is to a large degree a consequence of the Rio Earth Summit 1992 and Agenda 21, which set in motion a series of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). In relation to hazardous substances and waste, four principal conventions apply:

  1. The Rotterdam Convention, acceded to by South Africa in 2002, promotes and enforces transparency in the importation of hazardous chemicals.
  2. The Basel Convention, acceded to by South Africa in 1994, addresses the need to control the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, setting out the categorization of hazardous waste and the policies between member countries.
  3. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), to which South Africa became a signatory in 2001 and ratified in 2002, requires that member countries phase out POPs and prevent their import or export.
  4. The Montreal Protocol, to which South Africa became a signatory in 1990 and ratified subsequent amendments, phases out the production of certain substances and so protects the ozone layer.

The South African government must give effect to the provisions of the international conventions to which the country has acceded. Section 4.6 will explore in more detail the mechanisms that are already operational or that will be established to give effect to the waste related conventions.


  1. Section 6(1)(b), section 43(1)(b) and section 43(1)(d) of the Waste Act.