The Time is Now to stand up for the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (R2E) and for Australia to embrace a new approach to environmental decision-making, one which ensures that proper consideration is given to relevant human rights.
The global climate and environmental crisis threatens millions of lives, particularly those most vulnerable and have contributed least to the problem. Human rights and the environment are intertwined; human rights cannot be enjoyed without a safe, clean and healthy environment; and sustainable environmental governance cannot exist without the establishment of and respect for human rights.
Over the past 12 months, ALHR has joined with over 1300+ CSOs & Indigenous Peoples’ organisations calling for the United Nations to recognise the right to a healthy environment.
United Nations Human Rights Council
On October 8th 2022, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and announced the appointment of a new United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change. Thanks to the governments of Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland, also known as the “Core Group”, that have been advocating for this recognition and thanks to the active advocacy of civil society and legal experts, including ALHR, the resolution was adopted with no votes against and only 4 abstentions.
ALHR is very proud to be a member of this international coalition of more than 1,300 organisations from civil society, social, environmental, youth, gender equality and human rights movements, trade unions, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities, from more than 100 countries who delivered to HRC45 an appeal, entitled “The Time Is Now“, a Global Call for the United Nations to Recognise the Right to a Healthy Environment.
At HRC46 the UN Environment Programme also delivered a joint statement on behalf of 15 UN entities expressing that that the time for global recognition, implementation, and protection of the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is now. The HRC core group on human rights and the environment also issued a statement on 9 March 2020 calling for States to engage in the process of the recognition of the right to a healthy environment at the HRC, which was supported by more than 60 countries.
The foundations of this important international movement are also connected to the important work of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. In March 2018 the former Special Rapporteur , John Knox, presented the Framework Principles to the UN Human Rights Council. These set out states’ obligations as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The principles recognise that whilst there may not yet be a treaty specifically devoted to addressing human rights and the environment, States’ obligations under the existing core human rights treaties are very clearly engaged by their approach to environmental issues.
United Nations General Assembly
Our international coalition is now calling for the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment ahead of the closing of the 76th General Assembly session. In order to strengthen accountability among governments to implement the right to a healthy environment it is critical for this resolution to be reaffirmed in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Starting on 6 April, ahead of the closing of the 76th General Assembly session, civil society, Indigenous people organisations, campaigners and individuals from around the world are coming together once again to call on governments to recognise the right to a healthy environment.
April 12th 2022: An expert seminar on ‘UN recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment: past developments and future prospects’ will be taking place alongside the UN General Assembly in New York City. It will feature interactive roundtable discussions with interventions by UN Special Rapporteurs, UN entities, academic experts, civil society leaders, business representatives, and environmental human rights defenders. Register to attend in person or Watch LIVE.