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Rights of the child through a healthy environment: A global call to action

On the just concluded 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered a very potent statement on the need for urgent action to recognise and realise the rights of the child through a healthy environment.

“Environmental harms severely affect the youngest children. Indigenous children and those from low-income and marginalized communities are also among those most affected. Many of the effects of environmental degradation on children and their rights are completely preventable. And today they are being compounded by COVID-19,” Bachelet stated. …

Pesticides were among the toxic substances identified by the UNHRC that children are exposed to through the air, ground or water, “significantly affecting their health, development and well-being, violating multiple rights.” It pointed out that children are exposed while playing, swimming in local water sources, going to or at school, eating, drinking or working. It also acknowledged that in utero exposure of children to hundreds of hazardous chemicals compromise their foetal development.

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