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Our fundamental right to a safe and clean environment

On 11 March, John Knox, Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council his first comprehensive report on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.


He told the Council that States had a duty to assess environmental impacts on human rights and to make environmental information available to the public. He said they also had to a duty to provide access to effective remedies and to facilitate participation in decision-making. He also drew attention to the obligation to safeguard the rights to freedom of expression of those persons who defend the environment.


Knox will work with UNEP in studying practical examples of how human rights obligations relating to the environment are put into practice. This will lead to a compendium of good practices, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council next March.  

A side-event was organized by the permanent missions of Costa Rica, the Maldives, Slovenia and Switzerland, in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNEP, in the margin of the Human Rights Council. A panel discussion was held on the human rights obligations related to environmental protection, followed by an interactive debate with the audience.


The advance version of the UNEP Human Rights and Environment Compendium was launched during this side event. HumanRightsandtheEnvironment/tabid/130265/Default.aspx


From 12 to 14 March, some 40 environmental human rights defenders convened at UNEP premises in Geneva to hold their regional consultations for Europe and Africa, under the auspices of the Universal Rights Group (


On 28 March, the draft resolution on Human rights and environment (A/HRC/25/L.31, oral revision 28/03) has been adopted without a vote by the Human Rights Council.


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