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Governments urged to speed up ratification process of Minamata Convention

The new UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics Baskut Tuncak, has called on governments to expedite the ratification process of the Minamata Convention, on the eve of a key meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from its adverse effects, must be ratified by 50 countries to be legally binding. Yet, one year after it was opened for signature and ratification, only seven States have ratified it. 128 countries in total have signed the Convention but due to the small number of ratifications, the treaty is unlikely to come into force by 2020.

As Mr. Tuncak suggests, ratification is an imperative for States to fulfil their human rights obligations, and therefore a delay in ratifying the Convention means that people and the environment will continue to suffer the human rights impacts of mercury pollution. Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – can cause grave health threats, including fatal ones.

The negative effects of mercury are of serious concern for vulnerable groups of people including children and women of child-bearing age. Once released into the environment, the impacts of mercury is uncontrollable.

Last updated on 13 November 2014

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