Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes A/HRC/42/41
Statement by: International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
9 September 2019
Thank you Mr. President,
We welcome the report including its Principles on human rights to protect workers from toxic substances submitted by the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak. We also appreciate the attention to this very concerning issue.
In light of this, EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice highlights workers in war and conflict situations who are often exposed to toxic and hazardous substances during the production phase, the actual conflict, and post-conflict clean-up situations. Worse still, in several regions vulnerable children work in the production phase and other such activities attributed to war and conflicts and/or emergency situations.
Military activities are directly linked with the use of toxic chemicals and workers bear the risk of being exposed to explosives such as TNT, RDX, PBX; heavy metals such as mercury and depleted uranium and other materials such as rocket propellants, special paints, perchlorate and nitro-glycerine.
Furthermore, workers in post conflict situations are also at great risk to exposure of hazardous waste whereby many are volunteers or regular citizens who are unaware of the risks and dangers.
In Iraq, contamination, pollution, tonnes of war debris and toxic waste as a result of the 2003 invasion and the following armed conflict has resulted in environmental disaster leaving high levels of radiation, extensive PCB and sulphur contamination and several toxic stockpiles amongst others. In Mosul alone, there is an estimated 8 million tons of conflict debris. Regrettably, this waste from invasions and armed conflict in the city is being cleaned up by residents who work tirelessly with the risk of being exposed to this toxic environment.
Mr. Special Rapporteur, in your report how would the Principles, especially, Principle 4 on hazard elimination in preventing occupational exposures, be applied to workers in conflict and war situations, from the production line to post-conflict clean-ups?
Thank you for your attention.
Click here to watch the response by the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and toxic wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak.
Justice, Human rights, Geneva, geneva4justice, GICJ, Geneva International Centre For Justice