Chemicals play a fundamental role in societies. However, alongside the benefits, they bring potential risks to people and the environment. Effective classification and communication schemes of hazards are key for the sound management of chemicals, but many countries do not have the legal and technical capacities in place to do so. The same chemical hazards are sometimes classified and communicated in different ways in different countries. As a result, workers, consumers, and the environment are not uniformly protected. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) has been developed to enhance and standardize this protection, across the globe.

The GHS is an internationally-agreed system that provides countries with the regulatory building blocks to develop or modify existing national programmes. It sets criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and offers protective measures through labels and safety data sheets. Following-up on Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the first official version of the GHS was endorsed by the United Nations in 2003. Since then, over 60 countries around the world have begun to implement it, partly or entirely (see for the latest information).

The GHS offers a powerful tool for the sound management of chemicals and waste, workplace safety, human health and the environment, international trade, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For the latest version of the GHS official text, please visit:

UNITAR's role in the GHS

With the goal of protecting human health and the environment, UNITAR plays an active role in capacity building for countries and regions to implement the GHS, as well as in providing information and outreach on GHS at regional and international levels.

Within the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the GHS, UNITAR and the International Labour Organization (ILO) act as focal points for capacity building in developing countries.

In addition, UNITAR plays a central role in the following bodies:

  • UNITAR/ILO Global GHS Capacity Building Programme: provides training on classification, labelling and safety data sheets, situation/gap analyses, implementation strategies, legislation;
  • The Programme Advisory Group (PAG) for the UNITAR/ILO/IOMC GHS Training and Capacity Building Programme: reviews documents, provides guidance and ensures coordination with other hazard communication initiatives;
  • The Global Partnership to Implement the GHS: mobilises resources and implement support activities to support implementation around the world

GHS Implementation Programme Packages for the Private Sector

As part of our support to all sectors, UNITAR has designed a programme of training packages exclusively to address your concerns and challenges in designing and implementing the GHS in your company. 

The newly-designed programme offers a range of service packages according to your needs and resources, with three levels of training offered. These options can provide technical support for a period of six months, including the GHS e-Learning course (with the provision of a UNITAR certificate), webinars on the topic of your choice or priority and a coaching service to advise you on best practice.

Registering for the programme is easy! Please click here: REGISTER

For more information, please see our brochure or write to us at:


  • Developing and executing additional national and regional projects on the GHS;
  • Providing additional editions of the GHS e-Learning course, including translations to French and Spanish;
  • Delivering tailor-made GHS courses (e-Learning and face-to-face), as well as a train-the-trainer course;
  • Building and promoting partnerships with the private sector;
  • Promoting experience-sharing, information exchange and synergies.


UNITAR’s widely recognised course on the GHS has been running for 10 years, with expert tutors, and the successful provision of technical information. The course is aimed at government officers and regulators, competent authorities, private sector workers, civil society organisations, academics and others with an interest in the GHS.

The course takes place over 10 weeks, with an online format  that is flexible and adapted to professionals in full-time work. It is perfect for individuals or groups (group discounts available), and networking, learning from peers and asking others (including tutors) is encouraged, to maximise learning. A UNITAR certificate is provided, upon successful completion of the course. The course costs is USD1,000.

The course is available in English and Spanish, and is run twice a year, starting in March/April and September/October each year. Sign up now!

For more information or to subscribe, please visit

For more information, please contact

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