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Basel Action Network Press Release
GENEVA, Switzerland, 27 April 2001 -- At today's close of the 57th Session of the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights, the Basel Action Network (BAN), the environmental watchdog network that monitors the international dumping of toxic wastes, products and technologies, applauded the adoption of a resolution by a vote of 38 to 15* to renew the mandate to investigate the adverse effects of dumping of toxic wastes, and toxic products and moreover to expand it to include the transfer of toxic industries.
"It is extremely important that the international community continues to examine the impacts of toxic trade from both the standpoint of environment and human rights," said Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network. "Under the forces of unbridled "free trade," toxic wastes, products and technologies, including the migration of the world's most dangerous and polluting industries, are now following a path of least resistance. The horrific result is a situation where the poorest of the poor are the recipients of the risks and poisons of the rich."
The new Human Rights mandate will be for three more years of work and will be conducted in cooperation with the Basel Convention and other relevant intergovernmental fora, "with a view to making concrete recommendations and proposals on adequate measures to control, reduce and eradicate these phenomena. The final report will include comprehensive information on "persons killed, maimed or otherwise injured in developing countries from the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes; the question of the impunity of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes; the question of rehabilitation of and assitance to victims; the scope of national legislation; and the question of fraudulent waste-recycling programmes.
BAN considers the reference to waste-recycling to be a crucial one as it is well known that virtually all actual or intended hazardous waste exports from rich to poor countries is now justified under the name of "recycling". However, in fact, the so-called "recycling" is either a complete sham or involves some of the worlds most dangerous and polluting industries such as shipbreaking and mercury and lead waste recycling. Additionally, much of what is shipped as recyclable waste, such as plastics and computer scrap, is un-recyclable and is simply dumped in the environment and communities of developing countries.
"It is a global tragedy that rather than providing developing countries with the means to avoid the mistakes they have themselves made in the past, northern industrialized powers are all too willing to clean their own backyards by simply moving the world's most dirty industries, toxic wastes and unsafe products to the developing world," said Puckett. "It is hopeful that this United Nations effort will shed more light on the human costs of this form of toxic globalization."
For more information contact:
Jim Puckett, Coordinator, Basel Action
For copies of the resolution (also below) and report of the special Rapporteur on this issue please visit the BAN website at: www.ban.org
*The vote was called by Belgium for EU.
38 votes for the resolution
15 votes against
Adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights
Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/35
The Commission on Human Rights,
Guided by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (A/CONF.157/23), particularly on the question of the human rights to life, health and a sound environment for every individual,
Recalling its earlier resolutions on the subject and, in particular, its resolution 2000/72 of 27 April 2000, General Assembly resolution 46/126 of 17 December 1991 and Economic and Social Council decision 1995/288 of 25 July 1995,
Recalling also General Assembly resolutions 42/183 of 11 December 1987, 43/212 of 20 December 1988, 44/226 of 22 December 1989 and 45/13 of 7
Recalling the existing international framework on the movement of toxic and hazardous substances and wastes, in particular the Basel Convention on the Control ofTransboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, and the regional instruments and arrangements in this regard,
Affirming that the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes constitute a serious threat to the human rights to life and health of individuals, particularly in developing countries that do not have the technologies to process them,
Reaffirming that the international community must treat all human rights in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis,
Reaffirming also General Assembly resolution 50/174 of 22 December 1995 on strengthening of United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity,
Mindful of the call by the World Conference on Human Rights on all States to adopt and vigorously implement existing conventions relating to the dumping of toxic
and dangerous products and wastes and to cooperate in the prevention of illicit dumping,
Aware of the increasing rate of illicit movement and dumping by transnational corporations and other enterprises from industrialized countries of hazardous and other
wastes in developing countries that do not have the national capacity to deal with them in an environmentally sound manner, which constitutes a serious threat to the
human rights to life, good health and a sound environment for everyone,
Aware also that many developing countries do not have the national capacities and technologies to process such wastes in order to eradicate or diminish their adverse effects on the human rights to life and health,
1. Takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the
enjoyment of human rights (E/CN.4/2001/55 and Add.1);
2. Appreciates the efforts made by the Special Rapporteur in carrying out her mandate in the face of very limited financial resources;
3. Categorically condemns the illicit dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in developing countries, which adversely affects the human rights to life
and health of individuals in those countries;
4. Reaffirms that illicit traffic in and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes constitute a serious threat to the human rights to life, health and a sound
environment for every individual;
5. Urges all Governments to take appropriate legislative and other measures, in line with their international obligations, to prevent the illegal international trafficking in toxic and hazardous products and wastes, the transfer of toxic and hazardous products and wastes through fraudulent waste-recycling programmes, and the transfer of polluting industries, industrial activities and technologies which generate hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries;
6. Invites the United Nations Environment Programme, the secretariat for the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization and regional organizations to continue to intensify their coordination and international cooperation and technical assistance on environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes, including the question of their transboundary movement;
7. Welcomes the ongoing work of the secretariat for the Basel Convention and also welcomes the cooperation between the secretariat and:
(a) The International Criminal Police Organization, in the monitoring and prevention of cases of illegal trafficking through the exchange of information;
(b) The World Customs Organization, in the training of customs officers and the harmonization of classification systems for effective control at customs border posts;
8. Expresses its appreciation to the relevant United Nations agencies, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme and the secretariat for the Basel Convention, for the support extended to the Special Rapporteur and urges them and the international community to continue to give her the necessary support to enable her to discharge her mandate;
9. Urges the international community and the relevant United Nations bodies, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme and the secretariat for the Basel Convention, to continue to give appropriate support to the developing countries, upon their request, in their efforts to implement the provisions of existing international and regional instruments controlling the transboundary movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in order to protect and promote the human rights to life and good health of all;
10. Decides to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a further period of three years;
11. Urges the Special Rapporteur to continue to undertake, in consultation with the relevant United Nations bodies and organizations and the secretariats of relevant international conventions, a global, multidisciplinary and comprehensive study of existing problems of and solutions to illicit traffic in and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, in particular in developing countries, with a view to making concrete recommendations and proposals on adequate measures to control, reduce and eradicate these phenomena;
12. Reiterates its request to the Special Rapporteur to continue to consult all relevant United Nations bodies, organizations and secretariats, in particular the Chemicals Division of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the secretariat for the Basel Convention, and to take duly into account the progress made in other forums and to identify loopholes;
13. Invites the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with her mandate, to include in her report to the Commission at its fifty-eighth session comprehensive information on:
(a) Persons killed, maimed or otherwise injured in developing countries through the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes;
(b) The question of the impunity of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, including racially motivated discriminatory practices, and to recommend measures to bring them to an end;
(c) The question of rehabilitation of and assistance to victims;
(d) The scope of national legislation in relation to transboundary movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes;
(e) The question of fraudulent waste-recycling programmes, the transfer of polluting industries, industrial activities and technologies from the developed to developing countries, ambiguities in international instruments that allow illegal movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, and any gaps in the effectiveness of the international regulatory mechanisms;
14. Encourages the Special Rapporteur, in accordance with her mandate and with the support and assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to continue to provide Governments with an appropriate opportunity to respond to allegations transmitted to her and reflected in her report, and to have their observations reflected in the report to the Commission;
15. Reiterates its call to the Secretary-General to continue to make all necessary resources available for the Special Rapporteur to carry out her mandate successfully and, in particular:
(a) To provide her with adequate financial and human resources, including administrative support;
(b) To provide her with the necessary specialized expertise to enable her to carry out her mandate fully;
(c) To facilitate her consultations with specialized institutions and agencies, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, with a view to improving the provision by such institutions and agencies of technical assistance to Governments which request it and appropriate assistance to victims;
16. Decides to continue consideration of this question at its fifty-eighth session, under the same agenda item.
71st meeting, 23 April 2001 [Adopted by a roll-call vote of 38 votes to 15. ]
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