The United Nations Human Rights Council recognised last Friday (8th October) for the first time, that a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right.
Resolution 48/13 on the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment includes the following:
- ‘Recognizes the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right that is important for the enjoyment of human rights’ (article 1)
- ‘Notes that the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is related to other rights that are in accordance with existing international law’ (article 2)
- ‘Encourages States to adopt policies for the enjoyment of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as appropriate, including with respect to biodiversity and ecosystems, (article 3(c))
- ‘Invites the General Assembly to consider the matter’ (article 4); and
- ‘Decides to remain seized of the matter’ (article 5).
The text was proposed by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland. It was passed with 43 votes in favour and 4 abstentions – from Russia, India, China and Japan.
This was by no means an easy feat, with reports circulating earlier last week that the United Kingdom and the United States were considering withholding support.
Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government has committed to enshrining the human right to a healthy environment with substantive and procedural elements as part of a forthcoming Human Rights (Scotland) Bill that will be consulted on in the coming year.
ERCS looks forward to engaging on the Bill and we will continue to press for reform of judicial expenses and for the establishment of an environmental court to guarantee our procedural right of access to justice.
Find out about our work at https://www.ercs.scot/our-work/.
For advice on an environmental issue, get in touch with our advice service at: https://www.ercs.scot/get-advice/.