Building on earlier work by the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and its mechanisms have been actively engaged on the topic of human rights and the environment. They have made enormous progress in clarifying and setting down the human rights normative framework as it relates to the environment and to environmental protection. In particular, they have demonstrated that environmental harm (including that caused by climate change) has enormous negative implications for the enjoyment of human rights, especially for the most vulnerable in society, and that, conversely, human rights obligations and principles can help guide better environmental policymaking at the international and national levels. In parallel, the Council and its mechanisms have also drawn increasing attention to individuals working at the interface of human rights and environmental protection: environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs).
This progress led the first Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, to use his last speech to the HRC as mandate-holder to urge the international community to consider the next logical step in this process: formal UN recognition of the universal right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In doing so, the UN would be reflecting the growing practice of states – well over a hundred countries have now recognized the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (in different formulations) in law; as well as the reality in various regional human rights systems (e.g. Africa, Latin America). The current UN Special Rapporteur, David Boyd, has made this drive for recognition of ‘the right to the environment’ one of his key priorities.
To kick-start discussions at the UN about the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, this expert seminar – organized by the HRC core group on human rights and the environment (made up of Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland), with the support of the Universal Rights Group (URG), the Geneva Academy, UNICEF, UNEP, and OHCHR – will consider the growing recognition of the ‘right to environment’ around the world; discuss the value of this right for individual rights-holders and for the environment; and will answer the question: is it time for universal recognition of this right at UN-level?
You need to register on the URG website to attend this event.
With more than 400 registered participants – both online and in Geneva – the Annual Conference brought all the relevant stakeholders in the discussions around this topical human rights issue.
Two years have passed since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. On this occasion, we are launching, together with the International Land Coalition, an easy-to-use manual that looks into how this historical declaration can be used to protect the right to land.
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.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will provide participants with an introduction to substantive human rights law. It will start with an introduction to the nature and sources of international human rights law and its place in the international legal system. The course will then provide a presentation of the main principles applicable to substantive rights (jurisdiction, obligation and limitations).
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
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.