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Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes

Purpose of the mandate

The exposure of people to a myriad of harmful substances without their prior informed consent is a human rights issue. However, it is a human rights issue for which solutions exist. The mandate seeks to help States, businesses and other stakeholders adopt such solutions.

Learn how exposure to hazardous substances directly implicates human rights

About the mandate

The mandate on hazardous substances and wastes was first established in 1995 by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Commission Resolution 1995/81). Today it is under U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/45/17 of 2020.

Learn more about the mandate and the resolutions that established it

Current mandate holder

Dr. Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights Dr. Marcos A. Orellana was appointed Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights in August 2020.

He is an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. His practice as legal advisor has included work with United Nations agencies, governments and non-governmental organisations.

Read Dr. Marcos A. Orellana's full biography

Key Documents

Guidelines for good practices for disposal of toxics

The Special Rapporteur reflects on the ongoing challenges relating to the disposal of toxic wastes. Following a broad consultative process to identify, disseminate and provide guidance on good practices, he gives recommendations to assist States in ensuring that their laws and other practices are in line with their human rights obligations.

View document A/HRC/36/41

Principles on the protection of workers from exposure to toxic substances

Based on decades of work under the mandate, including country visits, thematic research and communications with States and non-State actors, these 15 principles help States and other actors protect workers from toxic exposures, and provide remedies for violations of their rights.

View document A/HRC/42/41

Assessment of company responses to human rights issues within the chemical industry

This assessment, prepared by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, analyses trends in alleged cases of human rights abuse relating to the chemical industry. Responses of States and companies are also covered.

PDF: English

Latest Thematic Reports

25th anniversary of the mandate on toxics and human rights: This report, presented to the General Assembly in 2020, highlights the mandate's recent work on environmental justice for indigenous peoples, children, workers and other vulnerable groups—as well as issues like the right to information. The report looks at current challenges and the way forward. 

View report page | View document A/75/290

Duty to prevent exposure to COVID-19: The Special Rapporteur looks at the issue of State's duty to prevent exposure within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in this report to the Human Rights Council in 2020. The report advises States on how to deal with the aftermath, with a number of recommendations built upon equality, dignity, accountability and international human rights standards. 

 View report page | View document A/HRC/45/12

The case of lead-contaminated housing in Kosovo*: The Special Rapporteur focuses on the human right to an effective remedy for victims of toxics. He looks at the case of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) populations, housed on lead contaminated wasteland by the United Nations from 1999-2013, during and after the Kosovo conflict. 

View report page | View document A/HRC/45/CRP.10

Report on the duty to prevent exposure: The Special Rapporteur

outlines the State's legal duty to prevent exposure to hazardous wastes. He looks at progress made in the preventing such exposure, as well as examples of recent challenges like pesticides and air pollution. He concludes with recommendations to various stakeholders. 

View report page | View document A/74/480

Latest Country Reports

Mission to Brazil (2-13 December 2019)
View advance unedited version of the report A/HRC/45/12/Add.2

Mission to Canada (24 May-6 June 2019)
View document A/HRC/45/12/Add.1

* Any reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, is to be understood in full compliance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

Latest news

More press releases and statements ...

Archived news (over 3 years old)

Call for Inputs

Right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications
(Français | Español)
Deadline: 31 March 2021

Call for submissions - Impact analysis of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
Deadline: 31 March 2021

Questionnaire addressed to Governments - Impact analysis of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
PDF: English | Français | Español

Call for submissions - The lifecycle of plastics and human rights
Deadline: 21 April 2021


Joint researchathon on “sacrifice zones and human rights”
English | Español
Deadline: 31 August 2021

COLOMBIA, fumigation, Amicus Curiae, 12 April 2021 (Español)

Submission to ICCM5 High-level Declaration 19.02.2021

Other Letter, COLOMBIA fracking, 19 February 2021 (Español)

Other Letter, GERMANY pesticides, 9 February 2021

Statement to Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics (AHEG-4)
13 November 2020

Statement by UN experts on landmark environmental treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean
9 November 2020

Interactive dialogue on duty to prevent exposure to COVID-19
21 September 2020

Letters to States urging ratification of Basel Ban Amendment
5 December 2019

Resolution on workers’ protection adopted at HRC 42 (A/HRC/RES/42/21)
8 October 2019

Former mandate holders

Mr. Baskut Tuncak (Turkey/USA)

Mr. Marc Pallemaerts (Belgium)

Mr. Calin Georgescu (Romania)

Mr. Okechukwu Ibeanu (Nigeria)

Ms. Fatma Zohra Ouhachi-Vesely (Algeria)

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
Recent Thematic Reports

Duty to prevent exposure to the COVID-19 virus (A/HRC/45/12) (2020)

25th anniversary of the mandate (A/75/290) (2020)

Duty to prevent exposure to toxics (A/74/480) (2019)

Principals to protect workers (A/HRC/42/41) (2019)

Workers' rights toxic exposures (A/HRC/39/48) (2018)

First Report to GA (A/73/567) (2018)

Guidelines for good practices (A/HRC/36/41) (2017)

Rights of the child (A/HRC/33/41) (2016)

Right to information (A/HRC/30/40) (2015)

Issues in Focus
Contact information

Dr. Marcos A. Orellana, Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights

Avenue Giuseppe Motta 48,
CH-1202 Geneva
Fax : +41 22 917 90 06

Follow the Special Rapporteur on Twitter: @SRtoxics

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Others involved
External links