Our Association submitted to the UN the proposals on two Crimea-related natural objects to the researchathon on sacrifice zones and human rights proposed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, for their forthcoming report on toxic-free environments in which to live, work, study and play to be discussed in UN on 2022. UN rapporteurs intend to highlight the egregious problem of places that are being subjected to severe toxic pollution.

A “sacrifice zone” can be defined as a region or community where extreme and/or pervasive pollution is causing human rights abuses or violations. While sacrifice zones vary in size, they are proliferating around the world and often result from policies that prioritize economic growth or corporate profits over human life, health, dignity, and wellbeing. Many sacrifice zones in the world are located in low-income, ethnic minority, Indigenous or other vulnerable or marginalized communities. UN rapporteurs are also keenly interested in the steps being taken (or proposed) to clean up and rehabilitate sacrifice zones and protect the human rights of local residents.

In our submission we reminded to the UN rapporteurs that human rights violations in the Crimea, including indigenous rights and rights on healthy environment and sustainable development now are the subject to consideration in international courts, including the International Court of Justice (case 166) and the European Court of Human Rights (case 20958/14 and others). So we proposed to the UN such Crimea-related natural objects as Ukraine’s national sacrifice zones being under Russian invaders’ control, such as Syvash Bay of Azov Sea and Karkinit Bay of Black Sea.

We pointed to the UN that those zones are degrading due to the activities of chemical plants “Titan”, Crimean Sodium Plant and Crimean Brome Plant located in the Armiansk and Krasnoperekopsk towns, Crimea. Those plants use the waters of Syvash Bay as the mineral raw and throw off wastes to the shores of Syvash Bay and Karkinit Bay and to the atmosphere over it. Also Russian military activities in the Crimean shore and on the waters of Syvash and Karkinit Bay, and the total Crimea-origin poaching against the fish, birds and are dangerous for Syvash and Karkinit unique ecosystems. Those negative factors have disturbing health effects on the local population, including the indigenous Crimean Tatar people residing on the both shores of Syvash and on the shores of Karkinit Bay. Those communities have high rates of childhood asthma and cancer, they suffer from the impossibility of using Karkinit Bay and Syvash Bay for the purposes of their own sustainable development.

We stressed to the UN that the severe pollution in Syvash Bay and Karkinit Bay, their militarization by Russian invaders are threats to the rights to life, health, dignity, water, food, and culture. We informed the UN rapporteurs that the Ukrainian government strengthened in 2018 the monitoring over the negative consequences of the activities of chemical plants located in the Armiansk and Krasnoperekopsk towns and some criminal proceedings were started by the Ukrainian legal enforcement units. Association informed UN rapporteurs that its experts passed the lawsuit to the Ukrainian courts and to the European Court of Human Rights on the facts of violation by Russian invaders of the rights of local inhabitants to safely use the resources of Syvash and Karkinit Bay, and that those cases in Ukrainian courts, also as in the European Court, are pending.