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UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment
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The Monsanto Tribunal is asking in the similar direction to make corporations responsible for the ecocide they are accused for. Photo © Karin Heinze
Since long there has been a strong demand of many NGOs and of the organic sector towards political representatives worldwide to take more responsibility for a healthy environment.
Now the UN took a first step. John Knox, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such a move – which would significantly raise the global prominence of the issue – was growing along with an awareness of the heavy toll being paid by those fighting against deforestation, pollution, land grabs and poaching.
Environmental rights initiative launched
Formal recognition would help protect those who increasingly risk their lives to defend the land, water, forests and wildlife, says the UN special rapporteur. Last month UN Environment launched an environmental rights initiative to scale up training of judges, prosecutors and police in environmental law and to work with companies to include human rights in investment planning. This was reported by the Guardian .
There is increasing resistance from civil society and exposure in the media, but also the number of murders of land and environmental defenders increased over the last years. John Knox told the Guardian: “If we can’t protect them, then how can we protect the environment we all depend on.” This took place in Geneva, where he has just submitted a final report to the UN high commission for human rights.
Just before the UN release its paper 24 Latin American and Caribbean nations signed a groundbreaking pact on environmental rights that will oblige governments to investigate and punish those accused of killings.
The proposal contains 14 “framework principles”, the first two of which interlock human wellbeing and ecological wellbeing:
- States should ensure a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in order to respect, protect and fulfil human rights
- States should respect, protect and fulfil human rights in order to ensure a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
According to the Guardian Knox said, the next step should be to move to implementation, support for the most vulnerable groups and an increased focus on the role of business as well as governments.