UN Expert on Hazardous Materials Visits Kazakhstan to Assess Rights Record

ASTANA ­– United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak will be in Kazakhstan March 26-April 8 for his first official visit to the country. The expert, who is touring the nation at the government’s invitation, will assess the country’s human rights record regarding the management of hazardous substances and wastes.

UN_flag

Flag of the United Nations.

The realisation of human rights, such as the right to life, the right to health, the right to information and participation and the right to just and favourable working conditions, depends on the sound management of hazardous substances and waste, Tuncak said in announcing his official mission.

“I will examine how Kazakhstan has managed hazardous substances and wastes in light of their human rights obligations,” he said.

During the 14-day visit, Tuncak 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 susceptible to the adverse effects of hazardous substances and wastes,” said Tuncak.

According to the expert, he will visit Astana, Almaty, Atyrau, Ust-Kamenogorsk and Karaganda and meet with government representatives, local government officials, business representatives, civil society and community organisations and residents. He will also meet with representatives of the international community and UN officials.

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

Based on the results of the visit, Tuncak will submit a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), which will include his findings and recommendations to the Kazakh government.

According to the UN, Tuncak assumed the mandate in August. He is a senior attorney and chemist with the environmental health programme of The Centre for International Environmental Law, providing legal analysis of national and international laws relevant to the management of toxic chemicals. He does considerable analysis of differences between the European Union (EU) and United States approach to chemical management and the development of international treaties (e.g. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants) and policy frameworks (e.g. the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management or SAICM).

HRC is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and addressing and making recommendations regarding situations of human rights violations. The council has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. HRC is composed of 47 UN member states elected by the UN General Assembly.

Kazakhstan fully supports the work of the UN HRC and actively cooperates with its mechanisms and procedures. In 2009,the nation issued an open invitation to all special procedures mandate holders and prior to Tuncak had welcomedthe visits of nine special rapporteurs.Two experts visited Kazakhstan twice, which is a rare exception.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter and Telegram!