Non-binding Declarations and ReportsThe Stockholm Declaration (1972)
This declaration proclaims its concern about: "growing evidence of man-made harm in many regions of the earth: dangerous levels of pollution in water, air, earth and living beings; major and undesirable disturbances to the ecological balance of the biosphere; destruction and depletion of irreplaceable resources; and gross deficiencies harmful to the physical, mental and social health of man, in the man-made environment, particularly in the living and working environment". Stockholm Principle 7 calls on States "to take all possible steps to prevent pollution of the seas by substances that are liable to create hazards to human health.
Declaration on the Right to Development (1986)
This and several other international documents, among them the Vienna Declaration (adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights (1993)), state that the right to development is a "universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights" (Article I (10)).
Article 8(1) of the Declaration on the Right to Development says that "[s]tates should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realisation of the right to development and shall ensure, inter alia, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income...
In interpreting this article, the UN General Assembly clarified and reaffirmed in its Resolution 54/175 that "[t]he rights to food and clean water are fundamental human rights and their promotion constitutes a moral imperative both for national Governments and for the international community." The UN General Assembly, in its 1994 Resolution 45/94, had already recognised "that all individuals are entitled to live in an environment adequate for their health and well-being.
Legal Principles for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development (1987)
The influential Brundtland Report sought for solutions to parallel problems of global environmental degradation and global lack of social and economic development by asking for these challenges to be addressed in an integrated way in the interests of present and future generations. In the report, sustainable development was defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Article 1 of the legal principles, adopted by the Expert Group of the Brundtland Commission, expressly links the three fields in declaring that: "All human beings have the fundamental right to an environment adequate for their health and well-being.
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)
Chapter 6 of Agenda 21, adopted at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development, is entirely devoted to "protecting and promoting human health condition", while the Rio Declaration itself (Principle 1) proclaims that human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature and provides that states should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the relocation and transfer to other states of any activities and substances that, inter alia, are found to be harmful to human health (Principle 14).
Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment (1994)
This is the most comprehensive international statement on environmental rights to date. It was appended to the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. The Report was presented to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at its 46th Session (UN Doc, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/9).
The Declaration sets out a series of general principles, including the human right to a secure and healthy environment, the right to non-discrimination and the right to an environment adequate to meet the needs of the present generation without impairing the rights of future generations to meet their needs. It further defines a series of substantive rights, including the human right to protection of the environment, the right to safe and healthy water, the right to preservation of unique sites and the rights of indigenous peoples to land and environmental security, delineating procedural rights, including the right to environmental information, and active participation in environmental decision-making, and the right to effective redress for environmental harm.
The principles set out in the Draft Declaration reflect and build upon the rights found in both national and international law. Although this instrument is non-binding legally, national courts have used the Draft Declaration as a basis for decisions on environment matters and have found legal support in the Draft Declaration in deciding in favour for the protection of the fundamental right to a healthy environment.
UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) (1999)
When UNEP reported on its activities in the field of human rights and the environment in 1999, it explicitly referred to the individual's right to a clean and healthy environment. The report started with mentioning: "Environmental standards in environmental management are an important tool which ensures the right to a clean and healthy environment for all people living on this earth.
Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development (2002)
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development specifically commits to "assume a collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development - economic development, social development and environmental protection - at the local, national, regional and global levels" (para. 5).
UN Secretary-General report on Relationship Between Human Rights and the Environment (2005)
In February 2005, the Secretary-General released an updated report on the relationship between the environment and human rights, science and environment - Human rights and the environment as part of sustainable development.
The report analyses some of the developments that have taken place at the international, regional and national level in recognition of the link between the protection of the natural environment and the enjoyment of human rights. The report concludes that, since the World Summit on Sustainable Development, there has been growing recognition of the connection between environmental protection and human rights.