The 175 countries meeting since Monday May 29, 2023 in Paris to draw up the first outlines of a treaty against plastic pollution were unable to begin negotiations on the substance of the subject due to a deadlock over the rules for final adoption of the text.

Saudi Arabia and several Gulf states, as well as Russia, China, India and Brazil, refuse to allow the future treaty to be approved by a two-thirds majority vote if a consensus cannot be reached.

On the other hand, a majority of countries are defending voting as a last resort, which would make it possible to override a blocking minority. Or they consider, at the very least, that this question can be decided at a later date.

The discussion, which began in plenary session on Monday afternoon, kept all delegations busy all day Tuesday.

The plenary was adjourned in the early evening, and an informal group was tasked with continuing the exchanges, with a mandate to find a way out so that negotiations could get underway on Wednesday morning.

“We’re missing the point of what brings us together here, which is plastic pollution,” thundered Camila Zepeda of the Mexican delegation on Tuesday morning. “We’re wasting time and energy in discussions that go round in circles (…) Let’s get down to business”, she demanded, loudly applauded by the majority of delegations and NGO observers present in the stands.

“It is the right of member states to make suggestions” and “we are not in favor of the erroneous definition of consensus by certain states”, retorted a diplomat from Iran, a country also opposed to the idea.

According to a European negotiator, “the question has already been decided” during the first round of negotiations at the end of 2022 in Uruguay, “and these countries are trying to go back on it”.

“The strategy of certain countries is to delay discussions”, says Joan-Marc Simon, Director of Zero Waste Europe, “because if we want an ambitious treaty that covers the entire life cycle of plastics, it’s going to take a long time to negotiate”.

No draft agreement is yet on the table, and the Paris summit, which ends on Friday, will be followed by only three other negotiating meetings between now and the end of 2024.

For the activist, “these countries do want a treaty, but one that only talks about the end-of-life of plastics, improving waste management and avoiding releases into the environment”. This leaves aside the issues of reducing production, the toxicity of certain compounds, microplastics and so on.

“For two days now, the global plastics treaty has been blocked by a coalition of reluctant countries, led by Saudi Arabia”, added Graham Forbes, a Greenpeace official, on Tuesday evening: “We call on the countries to stop wasting time and start discussing the issues that are essential to solving the plastic pollution crisis”.

The Paris Climate Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Agreement were approved by consensus, as are most treaties drawn up under the aegis of the United Nations, i.e. without a vote, even by a show of hands.


Approval by vote, in the absence of consensus, would not, however, be unprecedented. It was notably used in 2013 when 140 countries adopted the International Convention on Mercury, signed in Minamata (Japan).

World Environment Day opens in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on Monday June 04, 2023. The theme of this year’s event is “solutions to plastic pollution”, “a scourge that threatens us all”, according to Jean-Luc Assi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, at the launch last March.

Humaniterre © Agence France-Presse


the online magazine


Carnets de routes


Similar items

April 07, 2024 Goma, DR Congo “I’m a child of war,” says Rachel Sematumba, sitting in her home, wrapped in

Saturday, March 09, 2024 Kano, Nigeria More than 280 students and teachers from Government Secondary School and LEA Primary School

Pas de pauvreté

Éliminer la pauvreté sous toutes ses formes et partout dans le monde.

No poverty

End poverty in all its forms and everywhere.


Éliminer la faim, assurer la sécurité alimentaire, améliorer la nutrition et promouvoir l’agriculture durable.

Zero hunger

Éliminer la faim, assurer la sécurité alimentaire, améliorer la nutrition et promouvoir l’agriculture durable.

Bonne santé et bien-être

Assurer une vie saine et promouvoir le bien-être pour tous à tout âge.

Good health and well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Education de qualité

Assurer une éducation de qualité exclusive et équitable et promouvoir les possibilités d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie pour tous.

Quality education

Ensure exclusive and equitable  quality education and promote lifelong learnig opportunities for all.

égalité entre les sexes

Assurer l’égalité des sexes et l’autonomisation de toutes les femmes et les filles.

Gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Eau propre et assainissement

Assurer la disponibilité et la gestion durable de l’eau et de l’assainissement pour tous.

Clean water and sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Energie propre et D’un coût abordable

Assurer l’accès à une énergie abordable, fiable, durable et moderne pour tous.

Affordable and clean energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Travail décent et croissance économique

Promouvoir une croissance économique soutenue, inclusive et durable, le plein emploi productif et un travail décent pour tous.

Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Industrie, innovation et infrastructure

Construire des infrastructures résilientes, promouvoir une industrialisation inclusive et durable et encourager l’innovation.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Inégalités réduites

Réduire les inégalités entre les pays et au sein des pays.

Reduced inequalities

Reduce inequalities among and within countries.

Ville et communautés durables

Rendre les villes et les établissements humains inclusifs, sûrs, résiliants et durables.

Sustainable cities and communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Consommation et production responsable

Assurer des modes de consommation et de production durables.

Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Mesure relatives à la lutte contre les changements climatiques

Prendre des mesures urgentes pour lutter contre le changement climatique et ses impacts.

Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Vie aquatique

Conserver et utiliser durablement les océans, les mers et les ressources marines pour le développement durable.

Life below water

Conserve ans sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Vie Terrestre

Protéger, restaurer et promouvoir l’utilisation durable des écosystèmes terrestres, gérer durablement les forêts, lutter contre la désertification, stopper et inverser la dégradation des sols et mettre un terme à la perte de biodiversité.

Life on land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Paix, justice et institutions efficaces

Promouvoir des sociétés pacifiques et inclusives pour le développement durable, assurer l’accès à la justice pour tous et mettre en place des institutions efficaces, responsables et inclusives à tous les niveaux.

Peace, justice, and strong institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Partenariats pour la réalisation des Objectifs

Renforcer les moyens de mise en œuvre et revitaliser le partenariat mondial pour le développement durable.

Partnerships for the goals

Strenghen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.