Human rights and hazardous substances: key messages

The complete lifecycle of hazardous substances (used here to include all toxics and wastes that have adverse effects on human health and on the environment), starting from their manufacturing and transport, to use, to trade, and eventually disposal, can have an enormous impact on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights- such as the rights to life, to the highest attainable standard of health, to food, to clean water and sanitation, to housing, and the right to a healthy environment. Those responsible for the harmful impacts of hazardous substances must be held legally accountable for them through the application of human rights laws, norms and standards. Given the impact of hazardous substances on human rights including the rights to health and life, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNEP have issued the following Key Messages to highlight the human rights obligations and responsibilities of States and other duty-bearers, such as businesses, to prevent and remedy the harmful effects of hazardous substances.