Wednesday, August 3, 2022

UN General Assembly Recognizes Human Right to Healthy Environment

By Anezka Krobot, rising 2L at St. Louis University School of Law

Last week, on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 76/300 with 161 votes in favor and 8 abstentions, recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, gave the following statement in support of the resolution:

“This decision reflects that all rights are connected to the health of our environment. Every person, everywhere, has a right to eat, breathe and drink without poisoning their bodies in doing so, and to be able to live harmoniously with the natural world, without constantly growing threats of ecosystem collapse and climate catastrophe. Today is a historic moment, but simply affirming our right to a healthy environment is not enough. The General Assembly resolution is very clear: States must implement their international commitments and scale up their efforts to realize it. We will all suffer much worse effects from environmental crises if we do not work together to collectively avert them now. To survive and thrive, we must invest in environmental and social protection centered in human rights; hold governments and businesses duly to account for environmental harms; empower all people to act as agents of change for a healthy environment; and recognize and uphold the rights of those most affected by environmental degradation.”

This resolution is a huge step forward for both environmental and human rights policy, but it remains to be seen whether countries will step up to make real change. As Bachelet herself said, “Today’s decision by the General Assembly marks the culmination of many years of advocacy by activists from all corners of the environmental justice movement. We know the scale of the dangers we face. If we are to protect our planet for present and future generations, it is now time for truly bold action by governments and the private sector as well.  And for all of us to stand together to make the right to a healthy environment our lived and shared reality.”

Environment, United Nations | Permalink


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