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U.S. Explanation of Position: Hazardous Wastes
September 28, 2012

“Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes”

September 28, 2012

Thank you, Madame President.

The United States recognizes the serious effects that improper management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes may have on the effective enjoyment of human rights.  We are committed to the proper management of such hazardous substances and wastes.  However, a number of concerns arose during this negotiation that have not been satisfactorily addressed.  We are disassociating from consensus on this resolution for the following reason.

We believe these critical issues are comprehensively addressed in other relevant conventions, bodies, and positions within the United Nations.

We are concerned particularly with some language in the resolution that implies an increase in the general scope of the mandate, already treated as broad.  We reaffirm that, notwithstanding the unclear text, the mandate is strictly limited to the human rights implications that may be involved in the management and disposal of hazardous waste, which is the intent of the Human Rights Council, and we would stress the importance of avoiding overlap with the competence of expert, non-human rights instruments and entities.  For example, one of the possible topics the resolution suggests the Special Rapporteur may report on – the possibility of ambiguities in international instruments and gaps in effectiveness of international regulatory mechanisms – goes beyond the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, which should focus solely on human rights issues.

Finally, we continue to question this resolution’s substantial budgetary implications.  This resolution imposes significant costs that we believe merit careful review and scrutiny given the large demands already placed on OHCHR, and the limited ability of member states to provide increasing amounts of resources to enable OHCHR to perform the substantial amount of work that we have given it.  For this reason, we request OHCHR and the relevant offices to conduct a review of the costs associated this mandate at the earliest opportunity and before next year in any event.  We also would like to consult with others about the appropriate level of resources needed to support this mandate.