Jan 10 2013

HRW: Mercury Treaty: Last Chance to Address Health Effects

A proposed international treaty to address the damaging effects of mercury should include specific provisions to protect the health of children and other vulnerable populations, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments are to meet in Geneva beginning January 13, 2013, for a fifth and final round of talks for the treaty. Mercury is a toxic metal that attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children.

So far, the draft treaty has been focused on the environment and neglected the important role that the health sector has to play in addressing the problems caused by mercury, Human Rights Watch said. Western governments have resisted including stronger health provisions.

“Delegates to the mercury treaty negotiations should seize this last chance and draft effective health strategies to prevent and treat mercury poisoning,” said Juliane Kippenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Millions of people around the globe are exposed to mercury on a daily basis, in artisanal mining and elsewhere. There is a dire need for stronger prevention and treatment of mercury poisoning.”

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