Nigerian named by UN to probe effects of toxic waste dumping on human rights

13 August 2004 –

A Nigerian environmental expert has been appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to look into the negative effect on people's rights of trafficking in and dumping toxic and other dangerous wastes, especially in developing countries.

The chairman of the 53-nation Commission, Ambassador Mike Smith of Australia, appointed Okechukwu Ibeanu to serve in his individual capacity, until 2007, as the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights and on the companies and countries involved in such the practices.

Dr. Ibeanu succeeds Fatma-Zohra Ouhachi-Vesely of Algeria, who served as Special Rapporteur from the establishment of the mandate in 1995 until July 2004.

A professor of political science at the University of Nigeria's Nsukka campus, Dr. Ibeanu has published widely on the social and environmental impact of the petrochemical industry in Nigeria, the link between environmental issues and security, and has served on the scientific panels of several international organizations.

He was on leave from his university post to work in the Nigerian office of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The new Special Rapporteur would make "a global, multidisciplinary study of existing problems and new trends of and solutions to illicit traffic and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, particularly in developing countries," as well as "concrete recommendations and proposals on adequate measures to control, reduce and eradicate these phenomena," the Commission said.

He was also to "produce annually a list of the countries and transnational corporations engaged in the illicit dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in African and other developing countries and a census of human persons killed, maimed or otherwise injured in the developing countries through this heinous act."

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