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UN expert to examine Canada’s record on hazardous substances and wastes


GENEVA (23 May 2019) - UN human rights expert Baskut Tuncak will visit Canada from 24 May to 6 June to assess the country’s record in relation to hazardous substances and wastes.

“This is the first visit of this mandate to Canada in more than 15 years, and also a first to the country since the mandate was expanded beyond waste to include the full lifecycle of hazardous substances and products, from extraction to final disposal, the cradle-to-grave approach,” Tuncak said.

“I am keen to examine Canada’s progress and current challenges to the protection of the human rights to life, to health, and bodily integrity, particularly with regard to children, indigenous peoples, workers, low-income communities and migrants, in relation to toxic exposures.”

Tuncak will travel to Ottawa, Toronto, Grassy Narrows, Sarnia, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Montréal, where he will meet representatives of the Government, civil society, including indigenous peoples’ representatives, and the business community.

“I am also interested in gathering information regarding cases concerning impacts of Canadian businesses abroad from hazardous substances and wastes,” said Tuncak, the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

Extractive industries, chemical industry facilities and products, oil and gas pipelines and vehicular emissions, agriculture, and waste will be analysed for health impacts.

Tuncak will hold a press conference on 6 June 2019 to share his preliminary observations from the visit. It will begin at 1:00 pm local time at 135-B Press Conference Room, West Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists accredited by the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

The Special Rapporteur plans to present a comprehensive report with his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019.


Mr. Baskut Tuncak is the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As a 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 organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Canada

For press enquiries and additional information, please contact:

In Canada (during the visit):
Mr. Alvin Gachie (+41 79 444 4702, agachie@ohchr.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Mr. Alvin Gachie (+41 22 917 9971, agachie@ohchr.org), or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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