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Hazardous substance and waste: UN rights expert in first official visit to the Republic of Korea

Korean version

GENEVA (8 October 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous substance and waste, Baskut Tuncak, will visit the Republic of Korea from 12 to 23 October 2015 to assess the country’s human rights record in relation to the life cycle of hazardous substances and wastes from their manufacturing to their final disposal.

“The realisation of several human rights, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to information and participation, and the right to just and favourable working conditions, depend on the sound management of hazardous substances and waste,” Mr. Tuncak said announcing his official mission to the country.

“I will examine how the Republic of Korea has managed hazardous substances and wastes in light of the country’s human rights obligations,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights implications of hazardous substances and wastes worldwide.

During his twelve-day visit, the expert will gather information on the Government’s policies and programmes, listen to victims’ testimonies, identify good practices, and discuss business activities relevant to protecting and respecting human rights implicated by hazardous substances and wastes.

“My special attention will be given to certain populations, including children, women and workers, who are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of hazardous substances and wastes,” Mr. Tuncak said.

The expert, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the South Korean Government, will meet with representatives from the national Government, as well as business representatives, civil society organizations and residents in Seoul, Sejong City, Gimpo, Dangjin, Boryung and Gyeongju.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to discuss with the authorities and civil society of the Republic of Korea the human rights issues relevant to my mandate and how to prevent, mitigate and remedy the potential impacts of hazardous substances and wastes on human rights,” he stated.

At the end of his mission, the expert will share with the media his preliminary findings at a press conference on 23 October at 12.00 p.m. at the Plaza Hotel (119 Sogong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report on the human rights assessment in relation to the management of hazardous substances and wastes of the Republic of Korea to the UN Human Rights Council, which will include his findings and recommendations to the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Mr. Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Learn more, visit:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – The Republic of Korea: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/KRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In the Republic of Korea (during the visit):
Melinda Ching-Simon (+41 79 444 4332 /mchingsimon@ohchr.org) or
Ahreum Lee (+41 79 444 4355 / ahreumlee@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Melinda Ching-Simon (+41 22 917 9113 / mchingsimon@ohchr.org) or
Ahreum Lee (+41 79 917 9391 / ahreumlee@ohchr.org)
or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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