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Toxic waste: first mission to Poland by UN human rights expert on toxic waste

GENEVA (23 May 2011) – United Nations independent expert Calin Georgescu will visit Poland from 25 to 31 May 2011 to assess current problems relating to the unsound management and disposal of hazardous products and wastes and their adverse effects on human rights.

“I intend to focus on the progress made and the difficulties encountered by Poland in complying with human rights standards relating to chemicals and waste management,” said Mr. Georgescu launching the first visit to Poland by the Special Rapporteur designated by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights.

“I am particularly interested in assessing the measures adopted to eliminate, or reduce to a minimum, the threats that industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential pose to the human rights of individuals and communities who work in these factories or live in their proximity,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Mr. Georgescu, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government, will also study the steps taken to guarantee that individuals and civil society organisations in Poland have appropriate access to environmental information held by public authorities on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes.

During his seven-day mission, the expert will hold meetings with a wide number of stakeholders, including Government officials and civil society organisations. Based on the information collected during the visit, the Rapporteur will prepare a report containing his findings and recommendations on how to protect human rights against the threats posed by the unsound management and disposal of toxic and dangerous products and wastes. His report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2011.

A press conference will be held on Tuesday 31 May 2011 at11:00 am at the United Nations Information Centre in Warsaw (Ośrodek Informacji ONZ w Warszawie, Al. Niepodległości 186, 00-608 Warszawa).

Calin Georgescu, the Executive Director of the National Centre for Sustainable Development in Bucharest (Romania), was appointed Special Rapporteur in 2011 by the Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

Learn more on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/environment/waste/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Poland: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/PLIndex.aspx

For inquiries and media requests, please contact or write to Ms. Mariola Ratschka, Officer-in-Charge, United Nations Information Centre in Warsaw (Phone: +48 22 825 57 84; email mariola.ratschka@unic.org).