The United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, which went into effect on August 16, 2017, could benefit millions of people affected by toxic mercury. Under the treaty, governments are obligated to protect their citizens from the harmful effects of mercury and to put in place controls in polluting industries, such as artisanal and small-scale gold mining and coal-fired power plants. Mercury, a shiny liquid metal, attacks the central nervous system, can result in lifelong disability, and is very harmful to children. It can be lethal in higher doses.