UK criticised by UN Special Rapporteur for harmful impact of poor air quality on children

Date: 21st September 2017
Category: Right to life, survival and development, Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

The UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights related to toxic waste has criticised the UK for neglecting to protect vulnerable groups, such as children, from the harmful impact of air pollution.

Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak presented the findings to the UN human rights council after a fact-finding mission to the UK in January at the invitation of the government. In his report he also raised concerns over potential implications of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union and how this will affect air quality regulation in the UK. He assessed how well the UK protects human rights that are infringed by pollution, such as the rights to life, health, and safe housing,

In the report, Mr Tuncak explicitly addresses the special protection provided to children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). He also directly points to the Concluding Observations produced by the Committee on the Rights of the Child for the UK last year and states:

"The Special Rapporteur is alarmed that despite repeated judicial instruction, as well as recommendations by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (see CRC/C/GBR/CO/5, paras. 68-69) the United Kingdom Government continues to flout its duty to ensure adequate air quality and protect the rights to life and health of its citizens".

Labour MP Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee, said:

"It is vital the government passes a new environmental protection act as soon as possible to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people".