UN Human Rights Council recognises ‘Right to a clean environment’

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously voted to recognise a clean, healthy & sustainable environment as a universal right. This right was recognised by UNHRC on October 8, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Highlights

Once the right is recognised by all, it would be the first of its kind in 70 years, ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly.

Right to clean environment

Right to a clean environment was first rooted in “1972 Stockholm Declaration”.

Background

This resolution was approved following a campaign led by 13000 civil society organisations & indigenous peoples’ groups, 90,000 children, private sector stakeholders and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

About the UN resolution

This resolution emphasises on “Rights to life, liberty and security” of human rights defenders who are working in environmental matters. They are referred as environmental human rights defenders. Clean-environment resolution was passed by the human rights council. The resolution also called on countries to boost their abilities of improving the environment. It was passed by 43-0. Four member states namely India, China, Japan and Russia were abstained.

What are the concerns of Environmental defenders?

Environmental defenders worldwide are subject to constant physical attacks, legal actions, detentions, arrests, and smear campaigns. In 2020 alone, around 200 environmental defenders have been murdered. This the UNEP has deepened its commitment to protect and promote environmental human rights defenders in times to come.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

UNHRC is a United Nations body that seeks to promote and protect human rights worldwide. Council comprises of 47 members and they are elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis. Its headquarter is in Geneva, Switzerland.

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