About the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

In 1995, the Commission on Human Rights established the mandate to examine the human rights implications of exposure to hazardous substances and toxic waste. This included the implications of trends like illicit traffic and release of toxic and dangerous products during conflict. Shipbreaking, medical waste, and extractive industries were also within the scope of elements to be examined.

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council affirmed that hazardous substances and waste may constitute a serious threat to the full enjoyment of human rights. It expanded the mandate to include the whole life-cycle of hazardous products, from manufacturing to final disposal. This is known as the cradle-to-grave approach. The rapid acceleration in chemical production suggests the likelihood that this is an increasing threat, particularly for the human rights of the most vulnerable segments of society.

The mandate has been renewed most recently in 2020 through resolution A/HRC/RES/45/17.

Scope of the mandate

The Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes is mandated by the UN to examine the human rights implications of toxic and otherwise hazardous substances. The scope of the mandate includes extractive industries, particularly oil, gas and mining; labour conditions in manufacturing and agricultural sectors; consumer products; environmental emissions of hazardous substances from all sources; military activities, war and conflict; and the disposal of waste.

The expert is required by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back to member States on initiatives taken to promote and protect the human rights implicated by the improper management of hazardous substances and wastes.

Priorities of the mandate

As envisaged in resolution A/HRC/RES/45/17, the Human Rights Council

requests the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with his mandate, to continue to provide detailed, up-to-date information on the adverse consequences for the full enjoyment of human rights of managing and disposing of hazardous substances and wastes, in an unlawful manner, which may include information on:

  1. The adverse consequences for persons and groups in vulnerable situations, including indigenous peoples;
  2. The science-policy interface as regards the risks associated with the lifecycle of hazardous substances and wastes, including the risks to the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information, and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress;
  3. The developments, gaps and shortcomings in the effectiveness of international regulatory mechanisms concerning hazardous substances and wastes and their impact on the enjoyment of human rights, including with respect to emerging chemicals and waste management and disposal issues; and
  4. Human rights issues relating to all business enterprises, both transnational and other, regarding the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

Resolutions of the Human Rights Council


Year Symbol Title
2020 A/HRC/RES/45/17Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
2019 A/HRC/RES/42/21Protection of the rights of workers exposed to hazardous substances and wastes
2017 A/HRC/RES/36/15Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
2014 A/HRC/RES/27/23Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
2012 A/HRC/RES/21/17Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
2011 A/HRC/RES/18/11Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
2009 A/HRC/RES/12/18The adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights
2008 A/HRC/RES/9/1Mandate of 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

Other Resolutions

See resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights (1995-2005)

See resolutions of the General Assembly (1987-2003)



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

OHCHR-UNOG
Avenue Giuseppe Motta 48,
CH-1202 Geneva
Switzerland
Fax : +41 22 917 90 06
E-mail: srtoxicshr@ohchr.org

Follow the Special Rapporteur on Twitter: @SRtoxics

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Others involved
External links