Guidelines for good practices

Sun Clouds, Minsk Sunset © Anton Rusetsky via Unsplash

Pollution is estimated to be one of the leading causes of death and disease worldwide. In 2012, the deaths of 12.6 million people (nearly one in four of the total deaths) were attributable to an unhealthy environment. Of those deaths, 8.2 million were attributable to non-communicable diseases linked to exposure to toxics. Over the past several decades, many States have made welcome progress in reducing the impacts of toxics. However, this progress has not been shared equally. 

There remain disparities within and among all countries in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the implicated human rights. 

In this context, and in response to a request by UN Human Rights Council Resolution 27/23 (A/HRC/RES/27/23), the Special Rapporteur presented a report with guidelines for good practices in relation to the human rights obligations related to the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, in September 2017. 

Numerous civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are implicated by toxics, including the rights to life, the highest attainable standard of health, and physical and mental integrity. Practices in the context of toxics evolve constantly due to legal developments, political shifts and progress in science. In his report, the Special Rapporteur reflects on these challenges and provides various recommendations to assist States in ensuring that their laws and other practices are in line with their human rights obligations. 

The full report is available here.

Preparation of the guidelines

To prepare these guidelines, the Special Rapporteur prepared and circulated a questionnaire to governments, and another to businesses, civil society representatives and other stakeholders, to identify, disseminate and provide guidance on good practices to inform the report.