In recent years, there has been a growing trend in people and organisations also using Europe’s unparalleled system for protecting human rights to help tackle environmental problems.

A number of the international legal standards developed by the Council of Europe – notably including the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats – have successfully been invoked to help make progress on environmental issues.

The European Court of Human Rights has so far ruled on some 300 environment-related cases, applying concepts such as the right to life, free speech and family life to a wide range of issues including pollution, man-made or natural disasters and access to environmental information.

The European Convention on Human Rights has also been used by campaigners at the national level to encourage governments to take further steps to tackle climate change and the degradation of the natural environment.

Successive Council of Europe presidencies, and various other parts of the organisation, have called for existing legal tools to be further strengthened in order to help European states deal with the considerable environmental challenges that we all face.

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EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement: test your knowledge!

13 OCTOBER 2020

Do you think you already know everything about EUR-OPA? It’s time to find out if you really do!

For over 30 years, the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement (EUR-OPA) has provided a platform to reinforce and promote co-operation between its member states to ensure better protection against a major natural or technological disaster. To mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (13 October), EUR-OPA is happy to invite you to take part in a short quiz on the Agreement’s activities.

Website EUR-OPA’s campaign “Stand out in disasters”

Protect wildlife habitats. Get connected!

7 October 2020

Nature is declining fast: 150 species become extinct every 24 hours according to scientists. As animals and plants lose their habitats because of human activity, roughly three quarters of Earth’s land surface and 66% of our oceans are affected. 32 million hectares of forest disappeared from 2010...

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Human rights and the environment: towards a new non-binding instrument

Committee of Ministers 15 May 2020 Strasbourg

Declaration by the outgoing and incoming presidencies of the Committee of Ministers In a declaration adopted today the outgoing (Georgia) and incoming (Greece and Germany) presidencies of the Committee of Ministers called for the elaboration of a non-binding instrument on human rights and the...

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Using human rights to fight climate change



“Climate litigation – what you need to know”

What is the relationship between the environment and the protection of human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights? How can human rights law contribute to strengthening environmental protection at national level? What is the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights?
Find out more about the dynamics of environmental litigation in Europe