Speaker profile

Baskut Tuncak

Baskut Tuncak

Director, Toxics Use Reduction Institute, TURI

Baskut Tuncak is the executive director of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), an independent, state-level agency created in 1989 to prevent pollution and protect workers from hazardous substances. He is also a Research Professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts (Lowell). His research focuses on international environmental law and policy.  He has degrees in law (JD) and chemistry/biochemistry (BA).

From 2014-2020, Tuncak served as the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to provide independent analysis and advice on the realization of environmental and occupational rights, in particular the right to a healthy environment and the right to safe work. Issues of particular focus during his tenure included: the rights of vulnerable groups, such as children, workers and indigenous peoples; the right to information; access to remedies and justice; and the duty of States and responsibility of businesses to prevent exposure to toxics, including good practices in these regards. Previously, Baskut was a senior attorney with Leigh Day & Co. and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

Tuncak continues to advise various stakeholders on issues under national and international law, with a particular focus on pollution and chemicals management. He has advised national governments, specialized UN agencies (including ILO, UNICEF-UK, UNEP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), and public interest organizations (including Greenpeace International, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Solidar Suisse, terre des hommes, among others). Tuncak has served on various advisory committees, including those of UNEP, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI).