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Hazardous substances and waste: UN rights expert launches first official visit to the UK

GENEVA (16 January 2017) – United Nations expert Baskut Tuncak will visit the United Kingdom from 17 to 31 January to assess the country’s human rights record in relation to the life cycle of hazardous substances and waste, from their manufacturing to their final disposal.

“During my first visit to the UK, I will gather first-hand information on the State’s efforts to prevent exposure to hazardous substances and waste and ensure access to remedy for any harm caused," said the UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes.

“Assessing the needs of the most vulnerable to hazardous substances and wastes, including workers, will also be an essential part of my visit," said the expert, who will also look into toxic waste trade practices and trends, the role of industry, and the human rights implications of toxic air pollution, among other issues.

“I will pay particular attention to identifying the legislative and institutional frameworks governing toxic and other wastes management in the country, including the implications of ‘Brexit’,” Mr. Tuncak noted.

The human rights expert, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government, will meet with representatives of the national Government, as well as civil society organizations and the business community, in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.

“I believe the visit will provide an opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue with the UK authorities and other interested parties at the national level about the human rights implications of sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste,” he said.

A press conference will be held at the conclusion of the visit, on 31 January 2017, at 10 a.m., at Maurice Barnett Room Central Hall, Westminster Storey’s Gate, Westminster London SW1H 9NH. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report with his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.


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. As Special Rapporteur, he is 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: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In the United Kingdom (during the visit): Frederike Jansonius (+41 79 752 0486 /
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Alessandro Marra (+41 22 917 9882 / amarra@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

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

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