Environment and human rights

Human rights and the environment are interdependent. Living in an unhealthy environment may result in violations of human rights; conversely, respect for human rights is vital for the protection of the environment. Environmental degradation and human suffering are therefore flip sides of the same coin.

The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment has been recognised at the global level by the Human Rights Council in October 2021 and the UN General Assembly in a resolution passed in July 2022. The majority of member states of the Council of Europe have already recognised various forms of this right in their national laws. The Council of Europe has an important role in helping member states prevent violations of this right and in upholding the organisation’s human rights standards with regard to environmental protection.

Environmental human rights defenders and journalists demanding better environmental protection and more decisive action against climate change are increasingly targeted by attacks, reprisals and restrictions in Europe today. It is high time that governments in Europe took their responsibilities vis-à-vis the environment and environmental human rights defenders seriously. Europe should be a safe place for environmental activism.

Report

Environmental Rights Activism and Advocacy in Europe: Issues, Threats, Opportunities

31/03/2021 Strasbourg

“Environmental protection is a critical pillar in ensuring that everyone in Europe can fully enjoy human rights,” the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, said today upon the release of a report on a round-table with environmental human rights defenders from across...

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