Report on the rights of the child and hazardous substances and wastes

2 August 2016
Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
To the Human Right’s Council’s 33rd session in 2016


In this report, the Special Rapporteur examines the impacts of toxics and pollution on children's rights, and the obligations of States and responsibilities of businesses in preventing exposure by children to such substances.

Emissions from manufacturing and extractive industries, and the use of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals in consumer products and food, expose children to hundreds of chemicals that are known to be hazardous, and to countless others with unknown risks. These exposures can drastically affect the health and quality of life of children. This affects their rights to life, health and physical integrity.

Children are too often left without access to an effective remedy or justice for harms related to toxics and pollution. The deadly, lifelong impacts of this assault on children's bodies frequently remain invisible until later in their lives, making it difficult to prove how and when the damage was done, and enabling impunity for perpetrators.


The report provides a number of recommendations to States, business, international entities and civil society. It calls on States to prevent childhood exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals. States need to prioritize the best interests of the child when designing environmental and public health norms, and ensure access to information and effective remedies. The report also calls for businesses to identify, prevent and mitigate exposure of children to toxics and to ensure greater transparency.

Read all recommendations and conclusions in the report on the rights of the child and hazardous substances and wastes, available in all 6 UN official languages.


The Special Rapporteur held a broad consultative process with States, international organizations, civil society, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders. He is grateful for all the responses to a questionnaire on the subject.

He shared a questionnaire with States as well as a call for inputs with international organizations and civil society.

Questionnaire to Governments - English | Français | Español

Open call for information - English | Français | Español

Inputs Received


UN Agencies


Related events, statements and materials

On 23 September 2016, Terre des Hommes and the Special Rapporteur organized a side-event in the margins of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council on the unsound management of chemicals and the rights of the child.

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