New human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment

It is not every day that a new human right is announced.

However, on 8 October 2021, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council passed a resolution to approve a new human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.  The resolution was adopted by a vote of 43 in favour, none against and with 4 abstentions.  The Human Rights Council called on member states to adopt policies for the enjoyment of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, including with respect to biodiversity and ecosystems.  The UN General Assembly was also invited to consider the matter.

While this resolution will not create a legally binding obligation as a matter of domestic law within member states of the United Nations, it has been heralded as a landmark global measure and may help those who are seeking increased rights-based protections within member states.

Another resolution was passed on the same day by the UN’s Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur who will to focus during their 3 year appointment on the impact of climate change on human rights.

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