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call for input | Special Procedures

Call for submissions in advance of the visit by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights to Australia (28 August – 8 September 2023)

Issued by

Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights


15 May 2023

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 45/17, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Mr. Marcos Orellana, will undertake a visit to Australia from 28 August to 8 September 2023 at the invitation of the Government. His visit will focus, in accordance with his mandate, on a wide range of issues related to toxics and human rights and the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. A report summarizing the visit and including recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2024.

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 Member States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. Special Rapporteurs are selected on the basis of their expertise and experience in the area of their mandate, personal integrity, independence and impartiality and objectivity. They are not employed by the United Nations and do not receive remuneration for their work.

The mandate seeks to help States, businesses and other stakeholders to adopt solutions with regard to harmful substances and human rights issues.

Mr. Marcos A. Orellana was appointed Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights in August 2020. He is an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. His practice as legal advisor has included work with United Nations agencies, governments and non-governmental organisations.

The Special Rapporteur is part of a system of so-called UN Special Procedures, made up of independent experts who regularly undertake country visits around the world to report on human rights issues.


The visit would allow the Special Rapporteur to examine in situ questions relating to mandate, and would help him to identify good practices, as well as gaps and shortcomings, in relation to which the Special Rapporteur would seek to make constructive and concrete recommendations. The general objectives of such country visits are:

  • To examine and report on the status of a wide range of issues related to toxics and human rights and implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes in the country, with particular attention to persons and groups in vulnerable situations;
  • To engage in dialogue with all levels of Government, intergovernmental agencies and civil society in their efforts to protect human rights in relation to hazardous substances and wastes;
  • To identify best practices as well as gaps, shortcomings and practical solutions in the realization of rights relevant to the mandate;
  • To issue recommendations addressed to governments, businesses and relevant stakeholders, and to follow up on relevant concluding observations made by treaty bodies and other international bodies and assess their impacts on policies adopted by the countries concerned.

Country visits include meetings between the Special Rapporteur and government officials, members of the legislature and judiciary, state institutions, civil society organizations, academics, and individuals.

Key questions and types of input/comments sought

The Special Rapporteur would like to invite all interested individuals and organizations working on issues related to toxics and human rights and implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes concerning Australia, including representatives of civil society organizations, journalists, experts and academics, to provide input for the preparation of his visit.

While all submissions are welcome, it would be greatly appreciated if the submissions can focus on one or more of the following thematic issues:

  • Good practices: with a view to discussing, exchanging, sharing and transferring policy experiences and knowledge;
  • Implementation of international chemicals and waste conventions, as well as international, regional and national human rights and environmental standards;
  • Pesticides and monocultures and their impacts;
  • Exposure to hazardous substances, and its causes and consequences, including for groups in vulnerable situations such as women and children, and indigenous communities;
  • Chemicals and hazardous wastes issues, such as mining, e-waste and asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), mould, clandestine drug laboratory toxins, and other persistent organic pollutants, lead paint, and lead acid batteries;
  • Solid and hazardous waste management and facilities and related challenges in Australia, including hazardous waste and plastics management, and issues of hazardous wastes export and movements;
  • Assessment of port reception facilities for handling ship generated waste;
  • Energy transition strategies and their implications for the generation of hazardous substances and wastes;
  • Measures to address plastic pollution, including reduction of volumes of production and management of plastic wastes;
  • Mechanisms to facilitate the science-policy interface, including ways to avoid conflict of interest and address disinformation;
  • Current cases and issues with a view to the application of human rights standards, in particular regarding the indigenous communities, pesticides, hazardous wastes, water bodies pollution, and any other of relevance;
  • Access to an effective remedy for harm caused by hazardous substances and wastes, with a specific focus on accountability and redress, particularly with regard to populations with specific vulnerabilities, such as children, women, older persons, workers and local communities, indigenous communities, as well as people living in poverty and other marginalized groups;
  • Access to information, participation, and free, prior and informed consent;
  • Other issues: any other matter of interest to the mandate.

Reports, academic studies and other types of background materials can be attached as an annex to the submission

How inputs will be used

All inputs will be treated to inform the preparation of the visit and the report to the Human Rights Council.

If not indicated to the contrary your submission will be published on the website of the Special Rapporteur. If you would like your written submission or any other information NOT to be published on the website of the Special Rapporteur, please explicitly indicate this in your submission.

Next Steps

Please send your contributions in English in Word format to [email protected]. Please indicate “Submission for Special Rapporteur’s visit to Australia” in the email subject line; limit your contributions to a maximum of 2,500 words and if necessary, provide links to relevant documents or attach annexes.

Your contribution should be sent by no later than 15 May 2023.

Useful contacts and links for organizations and representatives who wish to be in contact with the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights follow.