Purpose of the mandate
The exposure of people to a myriad of harmful substances without their prior informed consent is a human rights issue. However, it is a human rights issue for which solutions exist. The mandate seeks to help States, businesses and other stakeholders adopt such solutions.
Learn how exposure to hazardous substances directly implicates human rights
About the mandate
The mandate on hazardous substances and wastes was first established in 1995 by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Commission Resolution
1995/81). Today it is under U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution
A/HRC/RES/45/17 of 2020.
Learn more about the mandate and the resolutions that established it
Current mandate holder
Dr. 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.
Dr. Marcos A. Orellana's full biography
Guidelines for good practices for disposal of toxics
The Special Rapporteur reflects on the ongoing challenges relating to the disposal of toxic wastes. Following a broad consultative process to identify, disseminate and provide guidance on good practices, he gives recommendations to assist States in ensuring that their laws and other practices are in line with their human rights obligations. View document
Principles on the protection of workers from exposure to toxic substances
Based on decades of work under the mandate, including country visits, thematic research and communications with States and non-State actors, these 15 principles help States and other actors protect workers from toxic exposures, and provide remedies for violations of their rights. View document
Assessment of company responses to human rights issues within the chemical industry
This assessment, prepared by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, analyses trends in alleged cases of human rights abuse relating to the chemical industry. Responses of States and companies are also covered. PDF:
Latest Thematic Reports
The stages of the plastics cycle and their impacts on human rights: The report examines the current and future negative implications of the various stages of the plastics cycle for the enjoyment of human rights. The ever-increasing plastics production, incineration and waste dumping only aggravate the detrimental consequences. Toxic chemicals are commonly added to plastics, causing serious risks and harms to human rights and the environment. View document A/76/207
Right to science in the context of toxic substances: This thematic report is dedicated to the human right to science with regard to the risks and harms associated with the life cycle of hazardous substances and wastes, examining the dynamics and interconnections between scientific progress, the diffusion of scientific information and the science-policy interface. | View document A/HRC/48/61
25th anniversary of the mandate on toxics and human rights: This report, presented to the General Assembly in 2020, highlights the mandate's recent work on environmental justice for indigenous peoples, children, workers and other vulnerable groups—as well as issues like the right to information. The report looks at current challenges and the way forward. View report page | View document
Latest Country Reports
Mission to Brazil (2-13 December 2019)
View advance unedited version of the report
Mission to Canada (24 May-6 June 2019)