UN Guidance Document Highlights the Impact of Toxic Substances on Children’s Rights
On 28th August 2023, the United Nations (UN) Child Rights Committee published a guidance document on children’s rights and the environment. Significantly it includes consideration of the impact of toxic substances on children.
The guidance document, known as ‘General Comment No. 26’, sets out advice on how UN member countries should implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was agreed upon in 1989 by 196 countries.
Over 16,000 children from 121 countries provided information on the negative impacts of environmental damage and climate change on their lives. Committee members took these contributions into account when developing their guidance.
The Committee document highlights that a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment underpins important children’s rights outlined in the Convention, including the right to life, health and good standard of living.
According to the Committee’s guidance “States should consistently and explicitly consider the impact of exposure to toxic substances and pollution in early life”, which they state can have negative implications on child mortality, brain development and immune system health, and can also cause disease during and after childhood.
They advise that measures to address this should include safety standards for toxic substances in ‘toys, play and recreational facilities’, and a ban to prevent substances that are hazardous to marine ecosystems and children’s health from entering the environment.
CHEM Trust welcomes the recognition of the impact of toxic chemicals on a child’s right to a healthy environment. We hope that the guidance will lead to global adoption of measures to address children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
Alongside NGO colleagues, CHEM Trust are calling on the EU authorities and UK government to protect their citizens from harmful chemicals by introducing robust legislation to phase out the most harmful chemicals from consumer products by 2030.
For information on avoiding harmful chemicals in children’s products see our advice for parents webpage.