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The right to a safe and healthy environment

UN expert calls for global recognition of the right to safe and healthy environment

GENEVA (5 March 2018) – It is high time that the international community recognized the human right to a healthy environment, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, said on Monday.

Knox presented a report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva setting out framework principles for States to ensure the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment* within the context of human rights.

“There can no longer be any doubt that human rights and the environment are interdependent,” he stressed.

“A healthy environment is necessary for the full enjoyment of many human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and development. At the same time, the exercise of other freedoms, including the rights to information, participation and remedy, is vital to the protection of the environment.

“The relationship between human rights and the environment has countless facets, and our understanding of it will continue to grow for many years to come.”

Knox emphasized that while the right to a healthy environment had been recognized in regional agreements and in most national constitutions, it has not been adopted in a human rights agreement of global application.

“As Victor Hugo famously declared, it is impossible to resist an idea whose time has come,” the Special Rapporteur said. “I hope the Human Rights Council agrees the the right to a healthy environment is an idea whose time is here. The Council should consider supporting the recognition of this right in a global instrument.”


* The Special Rapporteur’s framework principles can be found through the link below:

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