Header image for news printout

Hazardous substance and waste: UN human rights expert in first official visit to Germany

German version

GENEVA (30 November 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous substance and waste, Baskut Tuncak, today started his first official visit to Germany (30 November-7 December) to assess how the country is protecting human rights from the life cycle of hazardous substances and wastes from their manufacturing to their final disposal – including products ranging from pesticides to automobiles exported to other countries.

“The realisation of several human rights, including the rights to life, to health, and to information and participation, as well as the right to just and favourable working conditions, depends on the sound management of hazardous substances and waste,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights implications of hazardous substances and wastes worldwide. 

“Germany, as home to many of the world’s largest chemical companies, is uniquely positioned to lead the global efforts to better protect human rights from toxic chemicals, both at home and abroad,” Mr. Tuncak stressed.

During his six-day visit, the UN expert will gather information on the government’s policies and programmes to identify good practices, and discuss business activities relevant to protecting and respecting human rights implicated by hazardous substances and wastes.

“My special attention will be given to steps taken to protect children from exposure to hazardous substances, difficulties in the phase out of nuclear and coal power, and the export of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals to countries with less robust systems for chemicals management,” the expert noted.

The Special Rapporteur, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the German authorities, will meet with representatives from the national Government, business representatives, trade associations, trade unions, as well as civil society organizations in Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Ludwigshafen and Frankfurt.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to discuss with the authorities, businesses and civil society of Germany the human rights issues relevant to my mandate and how to prevent, mitigate and remedy the potential impacts of hazardous substances and wastes on the rights of German people,” he stated.

At the end of his mission, the expert will share with the media his preliminary findings at a press conference on Monday 7 December at 11.00 a.m. at the Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Presse- und Besucherzentrum, Reichstagufer 14, 10117 Berlin (Room 1). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report on the human rights assessment in relation to the management of hazardous substances and wastes of Germany to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016, which will include his findings and recommendations to the German authorities.

Mr. Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Learn more, visit:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Germany: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DEIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Germany (during the visit): Melinda Ching-Simon (+41 79 444 4917 / mchingsimon@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (after the visit): Melinda Ching-Simon (mchingsimon@ohchr.org) or
Ahreum Lee (+41 79 917 9391 / ahreumlee@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

For your news websites and social media: Key messages about our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles
Twitter: UNrightswire
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr