Human Rights Council, 19th regular session
27 February – 23 March 2012 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The Human Rights Council concluded its nineteenth regular session adopting 41 texts on a wide range of issues, including appointing a Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. According to the resolution on human rights and the environment, the Special Rapporteur’s tasks would include: studying, in consultation with governments, relevant organizations and indigenous peoples, the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; identifying, promoting and exchanging views on best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations in the area of environmental protection, and preparing a compendium of best practices; making recommendations that could help achieve the Millennium Development Goals; taking into account the results of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and contributing a human rights perspective to follow-up processes; applying a gender perspective; working in close coordination with relevant UN bodies; and submitting a first report, including conclusions and recommendations to the Human Rights Council at its 22nd session and annually thereafter. According to CIEL, the Council’s resolution establishes an institutional vehicle to advance the linkages between human rights and the environment. It is expected that this new special procedure will lay the basis for the Council’s recognition of a universal right to the environment.

Council discussions on the item were based on an analytical study on the relationship between human rights and the environment, submitted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The study examines the key components of the relationship between human rights and the environment, with emphasis on the following themes: the conceptual relationship between human rights and the environment; environmental threats to human rights; mutual reinforcement of environmental and human rights protection; and extraterritorial dimensions of human rights and the environment. Download the resolution [pdf] …Download the analytical study on human rights and the environment [pdf] …Read the round-up release of the Human Rights Council …Read CIEL’s press release …

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