HRC 42 - EU Intervention: Clustered interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation and the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes

Geneva, 09/09/2019 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 190910_2
Statements on behalf of the EU

United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva, 9-27 September 2019 EU Intervention: Clustered interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation and the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes

Mr. President,

The European Union wishes to thank the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for his instructive report and his presentation today.

Mr. Special Rapporteur,

Your report rightly focuses on the duty of States to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation in spheres beyond the household and especially in public spaces. You point out that in the past, States have concentrated their efforts on the provision of these rights only in the domestic sphere and the EU shares your concern that neglecting the implementation of these rights in a public sphere can negatively impact a person’s quality of life, especially of vulnerable populations, and even negatively affect other human rights such as the right to health, the right to private life, the right to work or the right to education.

Hence, we would like to ask the Special Rapporteur:

What are concrete necessary steps States and the international community as a whole can take towards realizing the right to safe drinking water and sanitation beyond the household?

Thank you.


Turning on to the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes


Mr. President,

The European Union would like to thank Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, for the presentation of his report on the final set of ''Principles on human rights and protection of workers from exposure to toxic substances'' to the Council [A/HRC/42/41].


While of course they will require an in-depth discussion, the EU takes notes of these principles, which call for a better integration of human rights standards and practices into current mechanisms for the protection of workers from toxic exposure. We also note with appreciation that these principles are being finalised in continued cooperation with ILO, WHO, and other international organisations, and are based upon the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In that respect, we are glad that the Special Rapporteur encourages ILO and WHO to continue their efforts directed at reinforcing occupational health and safety standards.


There are a several elements of the principles that we particularly welcome and would like to highlight:


The recognition that businesses have a responsibility to prevent occupational exposures to toxic substances, including in supply chains.

The principle that the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work is inseparable from freedom of association, the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining.


Regarding child labour, the fact that the report states clearly that exposing children to toxic substances at work is indefensible and that work where children use or are otherwise exposed to pesticides, toxic industrial chemicals, metals or other hazardous substances constitutes one of the worst forms of child labour.

We also welcome that the report notes the particular situation of persons with disabilities, among categories of people most at risk of exposure, and the need for prevention and response measures that take into account disability.


The EU has a well-developed and long-established chemicals policy and legislation in place to effectively protect the health and safety of workers. In the EU, victims of occupational exposure to toxic substances can find adequate access to remedy in the provisions of the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in ensuring human rights protection and business responsibility within the EU and externally. The Brussels I, Rome I and II Regulations provide a framework that allows, amongst others, victims to sue EU-domiciled companies in European courts for damages caused and/or arising outside the EU.            


Could the Special Rapporteur elaborate on the key challenges ahead, and particularly on how -through his engagement with ILO, WHO and other relevant institutions- better implementation, and realization of the rights of all workers to safe and healthy working conditions can be ensured?

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