Further integrating human rights in the global plastics treaty negotiations 

In the lead up to the next phase of the global plastics treaty negotiations (29 May – 2 June 2023, Paris), which are also tasked to deal with ocean plastic pollution, a new research paper and policy brief addressed to international negotiations advances understanding of the implications of the human right to health for State obligations currently being discussed in. Just before the second session of the International Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, Hub researchers Stephanie Switzer and early-career researcher Graham Hamley (University of Strathclyde) recommend that a new treaty should include international obligations for States to advance scientific knowledge on the links between plastics and human health, prevent discrimination, prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable, adopt restorative measures and include provisions on business due diligence. 

This new research is part of the Hub’s ongoing efforts to address the human rights implications of ocean plastics, including impacts on children’s human rights and small-scale fishers’ human rights, in collaboration with UNEP (see also here and here). Crucially applying a human rights lens to ocean plastics, and to the whole plastic life-cycle, is essential also to address Global North/South justice issues in the production and management of plastics. 

Hub researchers are also preparing new research outputs in this area, such as two new info-sheets on ocean plastics impacts on women’s rights (as already raised with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment here) and on waste pickers’ human rights. In addition, the Hub-led special issue of the International Journal of marine and Coastal Law on the ocean-climate-human rights nexus will include an article on the plastics treaty negotiations by an external researcher, Noreen O’Meara, University of Surrey, which will be published online in June. 

Photo: Mia Strand

Related SDGs:

  • Good health and well-being
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Life below water
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions