Towards a Better Protection of the Right to a Healthy Environment

Started in January 2022

Global environmental challenges – climate change, food insecurity or lack of access to water, land or raw materials – are on the rise. Besides their major impact on stability and security worldwide, they are also leading to displacement, human rights violations and conflict.

Although the linkages between the environment and human rights have occasionally been recognized by domestic, regional and international courts and human rights mechanisms, the recognition of a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in October 2021 provides a stronger basis for more direct and consistent protection of the environment and human rights.

Objectives

Building on this recent recognition, this research aims at mainstreaming the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and the protection it affords in the work of the UN Human Rights Council, its Special Procedures and Universal Periodic Review, as well as in the work of the UN General Assembly and UN treaty bodies.

Mainstreaming this right will provide guidance for judicial and administrative decision-making related to the environment and human rights, encourage states to prioritize its implementation through legislation, policy and resource allocation, and potentially provide access to justice and remedies for those who suffer from the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change.

2022 Activities

The project’s team will undertake three complementary activities in 2022:

  • The organization of a closed expert seminar with the participation of UN human rights mechanisms, oversight mechanisms of multilateral environmental agreements and other key partners in order to gather crucial input and feedback on the research
  • The organization of a public event with the participation of relevant stakeholders, including states, experts, international organizations, and NGOs to discuss the research and promote the mainstreaming of the right to a healthy environment
  • Draft a series of publications to provide all relevant stakeholders with scientific-based evidence to guide their work in integrating and better protecting the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Scavengers Burning Trash, Tondo Garbage Dump, Manila Philippines News

New Research on the Right to a Healthy Environment

22 March 2022

This project forms part of our research cluster on sustainable development that aims to explore the linkages between sustainable development, the protection of the environment, climate change and the branches of international law that protect the rights of the most vulnerable.

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RESEARCHERS

Picture of Christophe Golay

Christophe Golay

Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Dr Christophe Golay's expertise relates to economic, social and cultural rights, the right to food and the rights of peasants.

Portrait of Megan Donald

Megan Donald

Associate Research Fellow

Her areas of expertise include economic, social and cultural rights, the relationship between human rights and the environment, environmental law, and the interpretation of human rights.

Past Events

Promoting and Protecting the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

14 September 2022, 19:00-20:30

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

A session of the focused review in Grenada. News

New Report Confirms the Potential of UN Treaty Bodies’ Focused Review for Human Rights Implementation

18 May 2022

The report of the second focused review pilot – conducted in St. George’s, Grenada, by our Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) with the Commonwealth Secretariat – shows the benefits that this exercise brings to both the work of UN treaty bodies and the implementation of human rights in countries.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committee News

New Publication Takes Stock of UN Treaty Body Review 2020 Implementation

27 May 2022

Our new Research Brief provides a comprehensive summary of the key decisions taken and recommendations given by all relevant stakeholders in implementing the recommendations of the TB Review 2020 process.

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Persons walking in front of a blue wall Event

Strike While It's Hot: Protecting and Advancing Human Rights Online

4 October 2022, 13:15-14:45

This side event at the margins of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council will discuss areas of progress as well as critical gaps in the international affirmation and protection of human rights in the digital age.

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Event

2022 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

18 October 2022, 09:00-19:00

The 2022 Annual Conference will focus on digital connectivity in the field of human rights. This includes a view of the digital connections by and among mechanisms within the human rights system, but also the substantive impacts of digitalization.

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Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

27 April - 8 June 2023

This online short course discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

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Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

10 February - 14 March 2023

This online short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

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Session of a UN Treaty Body Project

Treaty Bodies Individual Communications Procedures

Started in January 2019

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Sign: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal Project

Local Implementation of Global Human Rights

Started in May 2020

The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.

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Cover page of the book Publication

Agricultural Commercialization, Gender Equality and the Right to Food

published on September 2022

Christophe Golay, Joanna Bourke Martignoni, Christophe Gironde, Elisabeth Prügl, Dzodzi Tsikata

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Cover of the publication Publication

Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

published on May 2022

Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret, Domenico Zipoli

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