The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is currently undertaking the following activities in support of the Ratification and early Implementation of the Minamata Convention.

  • UNITAR, with Swiss funding, has assisted around 16 countries in different regions in the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention. The projects focus on laying the foundations to start the ratification process with an inception workshop, to create a working group including all important stakeholders and to prepare the ratification dossier.
  • UNITAR is a GEF executing agency for around 30 MIA projects. Currently, UNITAR is fully executing MIA projects in 13 countries, while partially executing in 17 other countries. The work is mainly focused on the review of legislation, training and developing mercury inventories and awareness rising and knowledge sharing between the stakeholders.
  • UNITAR intends to help countries in developing the national action plan NAP for the reduction of mercury use in ASGM.
  • UNITAR, in collaboration with UNEP, has developed an online mercury platform called Mercury:Learn. The platform is an innovative idea which provides interactive modules assisting users in learning to develop mercury inventories. 


The Minamata Convention Initial Assessment project (MIA) is an enabling activity funded by the GEF that will enable UNITAR’s partner countries to identify domestic mercury challenges and the extent to which existing legal and regulatory frameworks enable a country to implement future obligations under the Minamata Convention. As such, countries develop a national mercury profile that can be used for further action against the dangers of mercury. UNITAR's MIA projects consist of the following components:

  1. Review an assessment of legislation and policies in regard to the implementation of provisions of the Convention.
  2. Initial Inventory of mercury (in terms of stocks, supply, use and trade).
  3. Identification of mercury emission and release to land and water.
  4. Assessment of the institutional and capacity needs to implement the Convention

Whereas the MIA projects provide a broad overview of the use of mercury in different sectors of a country, the National Action Plan (NAP) projects focus on one particular sector for which they articulate a strategy to systematically reduce mercury emissions.


Article 7 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury addresses artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM), the largest global source of mercury pollution. Under this Article, countries where mercury use in ASGM is “more than insignificant” are required to take steps to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury, by developing a NAP. UNITAR’s NAP projects consist of the following project components:

  1. National information exchange, capacity building and knowledge generation
  2. Strengthening of Coordination Mechanism and organization of process
  3. Assessment of the national infrastructure and capacity for the management of mercury, including national legislation
  4. Development of a mercury inventory, a national overview of the ASGM sector, and strategies to identify and assess mercury-contaminated sites
  5. Identification of challenges, needs and opportunities to implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury
  6. Preparation, validation and endorsement of MIA and NAP, implementation of awareness raising activities and dissemination of results at the national level

Because the ASGM sector is closely tied to complex economic development and poverty issues that are specific to each country’s unique context, UNITAR takes a comprehensive approach to NAP projects that addresses a multiplicity of development challenges. As such, besides addressing mercury’s detrimental effects on human health and the environment, UNITAR’s NAP projects  address cross-cutting topics in the ASM sector, such as governance and formalization, its effects on local development and economic inequalities, and its potential to empower vulnerable groups.