Human Right to Environment

Faced with the results of polluting and destructive actions, many international treaties and local laws and regulations on environmental protection have been introduced in the second half of the 20th century. These at first did not mention human rights in relation to environmental protection. But since the 1970’s, links between human rights and the environment have progressively been recognised.

People more and more started to see that a clean and healthy environment is essential to the realisation of fundamental human rights. Such as the right to life, personal integrity, family life, health and development. Because each human being depends on protecting the environment as the resource base for all life. And where it started with mere linking acknowledged human rights to cases of environmental disruption, like the Bhopal and Chernobyl disasters, it has become more acknowledged over the years that human rights and the environment are so inherently interlinked that (a clean and healthy) Environment is a Human Right.

At this time there are several regional human rights charters (African Charter and American Convention), other conventions like the Aarhus Convention, and multiple national constitutions that contain an explicit pronunciation of a human right to (a clean and healthy) environment. And late 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in article 29 proclaims “Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment...” More legal information on the Right to (a clean and healthy) Environment is provided under "For lawyers to use".

Logical next step? The next step could and should be made in due time at UN and Council of Europe level: To conceive, acknowledge and respect the international human right to a clean and healthy environment. For all.

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