Article: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Adverse Effects of the Illicit Movement and Dumping of Toxic and Dangerous Wastes on the Enjoyment of Human Rights: A Critical Evaluation of the First Ten Years

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From its hazy and humble beginnings, international environmental law is gradually but steadily acquiring a distinct identity within the wider field of international law. Occurring in tandem with the progress that this discipline has achieved over the course of time is the conceptual recognition of the human rights dimension to environmental protection in its diverse ramifications. Although not a prominent aspect of discourses in the cross-cutting fields of trade, environmental law or human rights, this article sequentially examines the conceptual basis, normative framework, working methods, activities, achievements, challenges and promise of the special mechanism established by the United Nations’ human rights apparatus in 1995 to deal with the human rights consequences of the transnational movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous wastes and products, over the first decade of its establishment. Because this phenomenon continues to present a problem in today’s world as it did in 1995, this article advocates normative and institutional reforms for this mandate and urges more rigorous and result-oriented action by states, non-state and intergovernmental actors. Observing that this thematic mandate holds considerable promise in stemming the impunity of hazardous materials production and dumping, even in regions of the world where the subject is rather reticent, this article proffers some modest responses in normative and strategic terms.

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