CLEAN, HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT AS UNIVERSAL RIGHT
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Context: Every person on the planet has the right to live in a clean, healthy environment, declared United Nations (UN) in a historic resolution.
- Climate change and environmental degradation are the most critical threats awaiting humanity in the future, underlined the resolution, adopted July 28 2022.
- The resolution will help to reduce environmental injustices and protection gaps.
- It can empower people, especially those in vulnerable situations, including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous people.
- Every person, everywhere, has the right to eat, breathe and drink without poisoning their bodies.
- Society should tranform by adopting sustainable means, which includes a shift to renewable energy and circular economy.
- This right was not included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. So, this is a historic resolution that will change the very nature of international human rights law.
- Some 50 years ago, the United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm concluded with a resolution placing environmental issues at the global forefront.
- From a foothold in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, these rights have been integrated into constitutions, national laws and regional agreements. In October 2021, it was recognised by the UN Human Rights Council. Today’s decision elevates the right to where it belongs: Universal recognition,”.
- The declaration adopted by over 160 UN member nations, including India, is not legally binding. But, it will encourage countries to incorporate the right to a healthy environment in national constitutions and regional treaties, stated UN.
- Russia and Iran abstained from voting. India voted for the resolution and pointed out that the General Assembly resolutions do not create binding obligations. Only through conventions and treaties do state parties undertake obligations for such rights.
- The words’ ‘clean’, ‘healthy’ and ‘sustainable’ lack an internationally agreed definition. The text fails to refer to the foundational principle of equity in international environmental law.