Our Association sent submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment regarding his thematic report focusing on human rights and associated obligations related to toxic-free environments where people live, work and study. Our submission is grounded on the situation with toxic pollution in the Crimea.

“ARC”’s experts pointed out that in the peninsula the toxic environments are the feature of towns of Northern Crimea and for other communities residing near Syvash and Karkinit bays, due to pollution from the chemistry plants, “TITAN” and others. Also the collapse with waste management makes all towns of the region vulnerable for the relevant pollution, including pollution by plastic.  So the localities of the Northern Crimea, on the Perekop isthmus, and the Karkinit and Syvash bays are the heavily polluted places in the Crimea. Russia’s de-facto “administration” does not recognize the concept of “sacrifice zones” but we informed the UN Rapporteur that we proposed it to the UN on those two bays in the established order. Association stressed to the Rapporteur that no examples of the heavily polluted places that have been comprehensively cleaned up and rehabilitated exist in the Crimea since 2014.

“ARC” pointed to the Rapporteur that Russia, as the occupying State, has the relevant obligations on providing the sanitary conditions in the Crimea regarding IV Geneva convention. Regarding the situation of the interstate conflict the usual conventions on the transboundary impact are not applicable as relevant pollution happens in the same country, Ukraine, its mainland and peninsula parts. But the UNCLOS is applicable to the pollution of the Karkinit bay and Sea of Azov and relevant case “Ukraine v. the Russian Federation” 2017-06 is pending in the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Association stressed in the submission that Russia de-facto rejects it in the occupied Crimea the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and Ukraine as a state can not guarantee this right to Crimean residents as it does not control this Ukrainian region. “ARC” reminded to the Rapporteur that Russia’s de-facto “administration” does not provide an additional protection for Crimean residents who may be particularly vulnerable to toxic environments, including members of Crimean Tatar indigenous people residing in the polluted areas.

Experts stressed that  Russia rejects any international aid, consultations or monitoring of the situation with Crimean environment without the “recognition” of the attempted annexation of this region, so any practical assistance of high-income States for preventing and rehabilitating Crimean toxic environments is impossible now. And more, all the business activities that have direct connection with above-pointed pollution (chemical enterprises’ and wastes’ management) are committing in the Crimea by persons and entities who are under full control of Russia’s de-facto “administration”, so relevant standards of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are not applicable in the occupied Crimea, submission stressed.

Association stressed to the UN Rapporteur that a special research on the toxic pollution and relevant ecologic issues in situations of armed conflicts and related “grey zones”, done by the UN structures on human rights and the environment, may be a starting point for the next work.