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UN rights expert urges Mongolia to protect environment

[JURIST] Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment John Knox [official profile] called [press release] on Mongolia Wednesday to protect the environment.

The call [transcript] came as a result of economic and cultural implications the nations agricultural community is facing as a result of expanding the expanding mining industry. Knox found that while Mongolia has comprehensive environmental legislation, it lacks a necessary implementation framework, causing damage to the environment. He also said that areas in Mongolia are some of the most polluted due to coal burning affecting the air and mining poisoning the water supply:

This air pollution interferes with the rights to life and health because it causes respiratory and cardiopulmonary illnesses that lead to premature mortality. The effects are felt most severely by the most vulnerable, including the old and the ill. Many studies have shown that children are particularly at risk. For example, in 2016, UNICEF estimated that over 400 children under the age of five were dying every year in Ulaanbaatar as a result of pneumonia related to air pollution. In addition, exposure to air pollution in childhood can result in long-term health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
He called on on Mongolia to standardize mining procedures to safeguard the environment:
Mining standards should ensure that the mining is done safely, that it minimizes environmental harm, and that after the mining is completed, the site is restored as far as possible to its original status. Unavoidable harm should be offset and/or compensated. When done correctly, this process can and should result in benefits not only for the country as a whole, but also for the local communities directly affected by the mining.
More importantly he urged Mongolia to protect indigenous land rights activists, noting recent attacks and threats of violence leveled against environmentalist and human rights defenders.

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