9 October 2009 Kyrgyzstan has made progress in addressing the significant problems of radioactive and toxic waste dumps and in raising international awareness of the serious trans-boundary threats of contamination of groundwater and rivers, but much more remains to be done, a United Nations expert reported today.
“The social and economic impact of uranium tailings sites and other hazardous toxic waste dump sites on the local population has not been properly addressed,” UN Special Rapporteur Okechukwu Ibeanu said at the end of an 11-day visit to the Central Asian country.
Tailored measures need to be adopted to address the difficulties faced by local communities living in proximity of these sites, who often live in conditions of extreme poverty, he added, noting that the existing normative framework on chemicals and waste management is not effectively enforced, and responsible ministries and agencies do not possess sufficient human and financial resources to monitor implementation.
He reminded the Kyrgyz Government that lack of adequate funds cannot be construed as a general justification for not discharging fully its obligations under several human rights treaties it has ratified, since “under international human rights law, even where resources are demonstrably inadequate, the obligation remains for a State party to strive to ensure the widest possible enjoyment of the relevant rights under the prevailing circumstances.”
Mr. Ibeanu’s purview embraces the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, and he reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council as an independent, unpaid expert.
During his visit he met with senior Government officials, UN representatives, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“I welcome the progress made by the Kyrgyz Republic in addressing the significant problems related to the several radioactive and toxic waste dump sites existing in the country, as well as its efforts to attract the attention of the international community on the serious trans-boundary threats of contamination of groundwater resources and rivers located in the Central Asian region,” he said, summing up the visit.
“Nevertheless, much more remains to be done to minimize such threats and to ensure the effective enjoyment of all human rights by peoples who live in proximity to tailings sites or storage facilities for obsolete pesticides.”
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