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UN experts to intervene in Zambia lead pollution case

The Court will consider arguments based on international individual rights law, including the UN Guiding Concepts on Business and Human Rights , said professionals.   The guidelines commit businesses to respect human legal rights, whilst addressing the adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity with which these are involved.  

Responsibility of care 

The UN experts – whose mandates include issues such as toxic pollution and human rights, company and human rights, plus discrimination against women and young ladies – had sought to intervene in the case.   They are not UN staff , nor receive a salary for their function.   The Southern Gauteng High Court within Johannesburg will this week hear arguments on whether the worth of the damages claim by victims can be considered.  

‘Profound’ health effects 

They also emphasize the importance of access to remedies in case of violations.     Furthermore, the World Health Firm ( WHO ) has identified it as among 10 chemicals of main public health concern, needing action by countries to protect the health of employees, children and women associated with reproductive age.   “Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body techniques and is particularly harmful to young children , ” the UN experts stated.  

Contrary to commitment 

“According to the WHO, there is no level of publicity to direct that is known to be without harmful effects, ” they added.     “Anglo American South Africa has voluntarily committed by itself to follow the Guiding Concepts, including the commitment to support entry to justice where human legal rights impacts have occurred and to co-operate in processes made to establish whether there is culpability for those impacts, ” they said.     The thirteen experts were appointed with the UN Individual Rights Council in Geneva and provide in their individual capacities.   The applicants allege that Anglo American South Africa, through its prior involvement in the actions of the local lead my own in Kabwe, assumed a duty of care towards residents, especially protection towards lead exposure.   The legal action against mining giant Anglo American was filed for women and children in Zambia’s central Kabwe District, that are the alleged victims of lead poisoning.   “Young kids can suffer profound and permanent undesirable health effects and afflictions , including in the development of the brain and the nervous system. Pregnant women’s exposure to prospect can cause losing the unborn baby, stillbirth, and premature birth and low birth weight . ”  Professionals argued that Anglo United states was acting contrary to the professed commitments to individual rights in business when it opposes the Court even considering this class action.    


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