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Children’s rights and the environment – new UN report argues countries have obligation to prevent childhood exposure to toxics

HEAL members and partners contributed environmental health expertise to the Committee on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) meeting on 23 September to discuss Children’s Rights and the Environment.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified international human rights instrument, with 196 States Parties. During its 69th session, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, devoted its 2016 general discussion day to the issue of children’s rights and the environment. The aim of the meeting was to foster a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the Convention as they relate to specific articles or topics.

HEAL welcomed a report on the rights of the child and toxic chemicals / pollution presented by UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and waste. The report argues that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties, States have an obligation to prevent childhood exposure to toxics. Only the US is not a party to the Convention - it is the most widely ratified and monitored treaty to date.

As the Committee encouraged the written contributions ahead of the meeting, HEAL member IBFAN’s liaison office with the UN in Geneva submitted an IBFAN Written Submission to the CRC Day, covering all relevant aspects of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on children’s health, including Environmental Toxicants.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to air pollution and water contamination, to harmful chemicals and to the devastation after extreme weather events caused by global warming. Breastfeeding and complementary feeding with family foods produced by biodiverse, climate-resilient agriculture not only protect health and foster optimal development, but also alleviate the suffering in climate-related disasters. These optimal infant and young child feeding practices thus contribute to every child’s right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Here is a link to IBFAN’s website report on their interventions during the working groups.

Further information:

1. CRC DGD: 2. GIFA: 3. CRC DGD Submission:

Originally posted on 27 September 2016

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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