The Rights of the Child and Hazardous Substances and Wastes

The report of the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes to the Human Rights Council in 2016 focused on the rights of the child and hazardous substances.

Click here to read the full report: A/HRC/33/41

This report offers an examination of how children’s rights are violated by both State and non-state entities by exposure of under-18s to toxic chemicals and pollution. It argues that States have a duty, and businesses a corresponding responsibility, to prevent childhood exposure. Today, the laws, policies and practices of States and businesses are inconsistent with this obligation.

Emissions from manufacturing and extractive industries, the use of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals in consumer products and food incessantly expose children to hundreds of chemicals that are unquestionably hazardous and countless others with unknown risks. These exposures can all drastically affect the health and quality of life of children when exposed during critical periods of development, affecting their rights to life, health and physical integrity.

When exposure does occur, children are too often left without access to an effective remedy or justice for harms related to toxics and pollution. The deadly, lifelong impacts of this assault on children’s bodies frequently remain invisible until later in their lives, making it difficult to prove how and when the damage was done, and enabling impunity for perpetrators.

The report provides a number of recommendations to States, business, international entities and civil society. It calls States to prevent childhood exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals and consider the best interests of the child as a priority when designing environmental and public health norms, ensure access to information and access to effective remedies, it also calls for the strengthening of childhood exposure-monitoring efforts and for States to conduct assessments to identify priorities and revise strategies to protect children. It also calls for business to identify, prevent and mitigate exposure of children to toxics and to ensure greater transparency.

Preparation of the report

In order to elaborate this report the Special Rapporteur has held a broad consultative process with States, international organizations, civil society, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders.

A questionnaire was circulated among States and a call for inputs was shared with international organizations and civil society.

See them here:

  • Questionnaire to Governments - E | F | S
  • Open call for information - E | F | S

See below all the contributions received for the preparation of this report:


UN Agencies