Environmentalists and human rights activists have long been concerned about the use of toxic chemicals and compounds in electronic equipment. Companies often use compounds such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in their electronic equipment to make them safer for the user, but they are very toxic materials that cause human health and environmental issues in areas the electronics are disposed of.
In September of 1995, international negotiations began on a draft agreement called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). The document was being negotiated by members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The stated goals of the agreement were to establish a set of multilateral rules for foreign investment that would govern the process in a more structured, systematic way. Up until the draft, foreign investment agreements were established on a country-by-country bilateral basis.