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.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Building of the European Commission in Brussels News

Inputting the EU Revision on Seed Marketing

31 March 2022

As the EU is revising its legislation on seed marketing, the Geneva Academy is inputting this process to ensure that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and its article 19 on the right to seeds are taken into account.

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A group photo of participants in the pilot focused review News

Second UN Treaty Body Focused Review Pilot Takes Place in Grenada

8 April 2022

From 23 to 24 March 2022, the Geneva Human Rights Platform conducted in Grenada, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, its second pilot of a UN treaty bodies (TBs) focused review – designed to discuss how countries implement specific recommendations issued by UN TBs between sessions.

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

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Spring 2023

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, 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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Plastic pollution Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

12-16 September 2022

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.

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Plastic pollution on an Italian shore Project

Towards a Better Protection of the Right to a Healthy Environment

Started in January 2022

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.

Read more

Madagascar, Miarinarivo district. Women transplanting rice. Project

The Rights of Peasants

Started in May 2008

After having provided academic support to the negotiation of the UN Declaration for ten years, this research project focuses on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

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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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Cover of the publication Publication

Regulating business conduct in the technology sector gaps and ways forward in applying the UNGPs

published on April 2022

Ana Beduschi, Isabel Ebert

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