Global Toxics and Human Rights Project

The Global Toxics and Human Rights Project seeks to advance a rights-based approach to the sound management of toxics. The Project leverages partnerships with a broad coalition of stakeholders to provide technical assistance, strategic planning, case support, advocacy, awareness raising, and standard setting. The Project also builds on American University Washington College of Law's (AUWCL) specialized knowledge and experience in environmental justice and supporting UN mandates to enrich the work of UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights professor, Marcos Orellana.

About the Project

The Global Toxics and Human Rights Project aims to address the massive, systemic, and widespread human rights issues associated with exposure to hazardous substances by supporting the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights by:

  • Participating in expert convenings to enhance accountability for implementation of the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations and to continue an ongoing process of engagement with stakeholders;
  • Conducting specialized research for amicus curiae briefs, white papers, and other supporting documents addressing applicable international norms and jurisprudence relevant to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur; and
  • Conducting targeted awareness raising efforts with and for civil society, international human rights and environmental bodies, and government officials.

UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights created the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights in 1995 with an initial focus on hazardous wastes. The UN Human Rights Council in 2011 renewed and reframed the Mandate to address the lifecycle of chemicals and wastes. Given its high visibility and association with the United Nations, the Mandate is a strong platform to defend environmental rights around the world.  The Mandate is currently held by Dr. Marcos A. Orellana.  Dr. Orellana received his LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees from AUWCL, where he has served as an adjunct professor since 2002.  His mandate focuses on three priorities: environmental justice and systemic racism in toxic exposures; gaps in international treaties on chemicals and wastes; and business human rights responsibilities for toxic exposure.

Project Staff & Faculty

Reports & Articles

Press & Official Statements 

Webinars & Presentations