Environment and Rights

Human rights have been a focus of international law for over sixty years now. A human rights approach to environmental concerns was only introduced long after that.

The United Nations Charter of 1945 marked the beginning of modern international human rights law, whereas the Stockholm Declaration of 1972 is generally seen as the starting point of a rights based approach to environmental protection.

This declaration formulated several principles, including that “ Man have the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.”

Human rights and environmental law have in common that they are both seen as a challenge to, or limitation on, the traditional understanding of state sovereignty as independence and autonomy.

Despite their separate initial stages, it has become more and more acknowledged over the years that human rights and the environment are inherently interlinked. To give a clear example; the right to life, personal integrity, family life, health and development of each human being depends on protecting the environment as the resource base for all life.

Please have a look at the subpages on:
- What human rights are in general,
- How accepted human rights are linked to environmental issues, and
- How the human right to (a clean and healthy) environment is currently codified in international law.

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