CIEL Calls for the Human Rights Council not to abandon work on toxic wastes

23 September 2011

At the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, CIEL and its partners are leading a civil society call to defend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Toxic Waste.

This mandate is established for three years and has been regularly renewed since 1995. At the 18th session of the Human Right Council in Geneva, it appears that this mandate is under attack and its renewal uncertain.

When first appointed by the Commission on Human Rights in 1995, an independent expert known as the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights was given the mandate to:

  • Outline the elements of the problem and conducting a general survey of issues involving the human rights of the victims, with special emphasis on difficulties encountered by African and other developing countries.
  • Identify, investigating and monitoring actual situations, specific incidents and individual cases, including allegations forwarded to the Special Rapporteur.
  • Produce annually a list of countries and transnational corporations engaged in the illicit traffic of toxic and dangerous products and wastes to developing countries.

In recent years, the Special Rapporteur’s reports on shipbreaking, e-waste and medical wastes have highlighted the role of chemicals in the global economy, the steady rise of trade in wastes, and resulting concerns about human rights violations. This Special Rapporteur has a critical role to play in addressing such infringements on recognized human rights around the world.

CIEL, together with Civil Society partners, have actively worked with countries in the Human Rights Council to ensure that the mandate is renewed for three years.

The Civil Society Statement further calls on the Special Rapporteur to enhance his collaboration with the Secretariats of the relevant international conventions and instruments on chemicals and wastes (e.g., the Basel Convention, the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention and the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management – SAICM) as well as with the relevant intergovernmental organizations (including the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization).

A decision on the future of the Toxic Waste mandate is expected by the end of the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, September 30, 2011.

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