International environmental law and human rights

Authored by: Karen Hulme

Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415620734
eBook ISBN: 9780203481417
Adobe ISBN: 9781135055943


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In March 2012 the Human Rights Council created the three-year post of Independent Expert on ‘the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment’ 1 1

Human Rights and the Environment, A/HRC/RES/19/10, 19 April 2012, para. 2 (emphasis added). In July 2012 Mr John Knox was appointed to the post; see his first report as Rapporteur, John H. Knox, Report of the Independent Expert on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of A Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment, 24 December 2012, A/HRC/22/43.

This development comes almost 20 years after the attempt by Ms Fatma Zohra Ksentini, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment for the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, to urge the adoption of a human right to a satisfactory environment and the recommendation that human rights bodies examine this relationship between human rights and the environment 2 2

Final Report Prepared by Mrs Fatma Zohra Ksentini, Special Rapporteur, Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Human Rights and the Environment, E/ CN.4/Sub.2/1994/9 (6 July 1994).

Quite clearly, from its wording, the mandate of the Independent Expert seems to have him picking up from where Ksentini left off in 1994, notably in studying the relationship and in identifying best practice 3 3

Human Rights and the Environment (n. 1) para. 2(a)(b).

Might this then represent the first step towards the adoption of that which has hitherto remained elusive: a universal human right to a healthy environment? And if it were to come to pass, is such a right capable of meeting the needs of the environment, rather than just mankind?

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