New Publication Explores National Uptake of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

25 March 2024

Our new Research Brief The Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Understanding its Scope, States Obligations and Links with Other Human Rights – authored by Dr Baïna Ubushieva and Dr Christophe Golay – explores the national recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and how its litigation and integration in national constitutions and legislations contribute to better define its scope and content, and corresponding states’ obligations.

‘This human right is recognized today by over 80 percent of UN member states – although in various forms – within their constitutions, legislations, judicial decisions or through acceptance of regional treaties. This recognition contributes – along with the work of regional and UN human rights mechanisms – to get a better understanding of its content and related states' obligations’ explains Dr Baïna Ubushieva, Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

‘The purpose of this new publication is precisely to take stock of these various developments and give a clearer picture of this right, states’ obligations and the steps that have to be taken to ensure its protection and implementation' she adds.

Highlighting Common Understandings

Drawing upon dozen of national court cases – cross-checked with insights from UN and regional human rights mechanisms, the United Nations Development Programme, and the UN Environment Programme – this new publication highlights common understandings around this right and, by doing so, provides a clear and detailed picture of its content, related states’ obligations and interconnectedness with other human rights.

Paving the Way for its Implementation

The publication and its key findings were presented and discussed at the side-event ‘The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment: consensus building on its scope and links with other human rights’ at the HRC’s 55th session with policymakers, civil society organizations, independent experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and other stakeholders.

‘This side-event served as a valuable platform for signalling to policymakers that this human right has solid foundations deeply rooted in national constitutions, legislations, and national and regional jurisprudence, thus paving the way for its implementation’ explains Dr Christophe Golay, Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

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