In a solemn and passionate plea, a coalition of independent UN human rights experts has issued a stark warning about the far-reaching consequences of global mismanagement of chemicals and waste. As the world looks forward to the start of the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemical Managementt (ICCM-5)organized by Germany under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the situation is severely characterized as an “unprecedented global toxic emergency.
A decisive moment in global cooperation
The upcoming ICCM-5 conference in Bonn represents a pivotal moment for international cooperation in chemicals and waste management. More than thirty UN human rights experts fervently emphasize that this meeting heralds a unique opportunity to formulate a robust response to the rapidly growing global toxic crisis.
Guided by the Compass of Human Rights
At the heart of this imperative is the passionate call to infuse the work of the Conference with the principles of human rights. This alignment should merge seamlessly into a “post-2020 global policy framework for the proper management of chemicals and waste.
The heavy toll of chemical exposure
The consequences of exposure to hazardous chemicals and waste are profound and alarming. They include the ominous specter of life-threatening diseases; the ominous specter of neurological disorders, and the ominous burden of debilitating conditions. These dire outcomes underscore the systemic and widespread violation of basic human rights for countless individuals and vulnerable communities around the world.
Vulnerable communities at the forefront
Specific communities bear a disproportionate share of the burden imposed by these toxic environments. These communities include workers, women, children, impoverished communities and indigenous peoples, who are at the forefront of this dangerous struggle.
A desperate call for urgent action
The experts leave no room for ambiguity and declare that “humanity cannot afford to further worsen the poisoning of the planet.” To effectively address the global toxic emergency, ICCM-5 must wholeheartedly embrace a human rights-based approach – a passionate plea fervently advocated by this gathering of UN experts.
Independent human rights advocates
It is of the utmost importance to recognize that special rapporteurs and other UN experts are steadfast and independent defenders of human rights. They distinguish themselves from governments and organizations and serve in their individual capacity. Their unwavering commitment to upholding human rights underlines the urgent and continued need for joint, collective action.
As the world stands on the brink of an evolving global toxic emergency, ICCM-5 bears a major responsibility to address this crisis. Guided by the principles of human rights, it is a loud cry that transcends borders, ideologies and preferences – a cry that humanity must heed wholeheartedly.