The following organizations - Earthjustice, CIEL, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch - wish to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes for the work carried out this year on the situation of workers affected by occupational exposure to hazardous substances. The Special Rapporteur documents a serious public health crisis, caused by exposures to hazardous substances at work, that affects workers around the world. This situation is incompatible with the right to safe and healthy working conditions.
The rigor of the Special Rapporteur’s legal analysis clarifies many of the linkages between human rights and the use and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes in the workplace, and further highlights the need for their environmentally sound management.
We commend the Recommendations formulated by the Special Rapporteur and welcome the 15 principles he proposes to protect workers from toxic occupational exposures. We appreciate the useful structure dividing them into three categories: to prevent exposure; to ensure access to information and participation; and to provide effective remedies.
The report allows the Human Rights Council to promote resolute incremental steps in the field. We are concerned however, that the Council’s actions remain weak to respond effectively to the threat of hazardous substances to workers’ health, as well as to human health in general. The Council should respond to the serious public health crisis by continuing its efforts to empower workers to defend their fundamental right to be free from any preventable harmful exposure in the workplace.
For these reasons we call on the Council and all UN member states to act on the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations.