Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen. Asbestos-related diseases (ARDs) typically comprise lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques, thickening and effusion. International organizations, notably the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization, have repeatedly declared the need to eliminate ARDs, and have called on countries to stop using asbestos. However, the relevant national-level indicators (e.g., incidence/mortality rates and per capita asbestos use, as well as their interrelationships) indicate that ARDs are increasing and asbestos use is continuing in the world. Lessons learned by industrialized countries in terms of policy and science have led to a growing number of countries adopting bans. In contrast, industrializing countries are faced with a myriad of forces prompting them to continue using asbestos. Full-scale international cooperation will thus be needed, with industrialized countries sharing their experiences and technologies to enable industrializing countries to make smooth transitions to banned states and achieve the goal of eliminating ARDs.