In Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations Human Rights Council overwhelmingly voted to recognize a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right on October 8, 2021.
The right would be the first of its kind in the more than 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director, Inger Anderson, praised the development in a statement.
She also urged member nations of the United Nations to pursue a similar resolution in the UN General Assembly.
The right to a clean environment was established in the Stockholm Declaration of 1972, according to Anderson. She went on to say that seeing it publicly recognized at the world level five decades later was quite heartening.
According to Anderson, over 13,000 civil society and indigenous peoples’ groups, over 90,000 children globally, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, and commercial sector partners had fiercely battled for the right.
“The rights to life, liberty, and security of human rights defenders working on environmental matters referred to as environmental human rights defenders,” according to the resolution.
Environmental activists face frequent physical attacks, detentions, arrests, legal action, and smear efforts around the world.
In the year 2020 alone, about 200 environmental activists will be killed. In the coming months, Anderson added, the UNEP would strengthen its commitment to safeguarding and developing environmental human rights defenders.
She went on to say that her organization hoped the resolution would encourage governments, legislatures, courts, and citizen organizations to pursue key parts of the Common Agenda for Renewing Solidarity.