Week of 12 April 2021
What has the UN Human Rights Council said about human rights and the environment?
Our key takeaway: The UN Human Rights Council takes the discussion on the right to a healthy environment one step further, and calls for a rights-based approach to biodiversity in the process.
On 17 March 2021, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on human rights and the environment which:
- Reiterates that more than 155 States have recognized some form of a right to a healthy environment in international agreements or their national constitutions, legislation or policies. This underscores the fact that human rights obligations on states relating to the environment have become clearer and more accepted. (In parallel, 69 states issued a joint statement expressing their intent to proceed with discussions for a resolution on the right to a healthy environment.)
- Emphasizes the need for a human-rights-based approach in the context of conserving, restoring and sustainably using biodiversity. This applies in particular to the ongoing post-2020 biodiversity framework negotiations (the Global Biodiversity Framework) and the One Health initiative. (In parallel, UNEP and OHCHR have published key messages on what it means to incorporate a rights-based approach to biodiversity-related matters. This includes practices related to participation in land and resource governance, accountability, cooperation at all levels, education, and the protection of indigenous peoples and environmental human rights defenders engaged in biodiversity-related protection activities.)
- Renews the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (David Boyd) for three years, and tasks the Special Rapporteur with a number of tasks
For more, see UN Human Rights Council, human rights and the environment resolution (17 March 2021)
See also UNEP, New UN resolution reinforces link between human rights and the environment (8 April 2021)
See also UNEP and OHCHR, Human Rights and Biodiversity: Key Messages (March 2021)