Environmental Rights Report 2007
There should be no doubt that human activities can and do cause serious environmental problems, or that those problems, in turn, often result in grave harm to human beings. Conversely, a clean and healthy environment is essential to the realization of fundamental human rights and yields great benefits for human beings.
The community of nations has not ignored the essential connection between human rights and the environment. This report (the 15th of its kind) highlights recent developments from international, regional and domestic bodies from the beginning of 2005 through December, 2006 in the area of human rights and the environment. As a sampling – but only a sampling – of situations occurring during this time period, this report illustrates the interdependence of human rights and the environment and shows repeated and increasing recognition of a human rights-based approach to environmental protection. Such recognition demonstrates that the right to a clean and healthy environment, whether as a separately codified right or through the application of other human rights to environmental harms, is emerging as an important component of international law. The relationship between environmental problems and human rights calls for a holistic treatment of these issues. Therefore, international, governmental and non-governmental institutions dedicated to protecting human rights must recognize the connection and provide mechanisms to address the human rights implications of environmental problems. As a world leader in the protection of human rights, the UN Human Rights Council should set the standard and the pace for such recognition and, further, guarantee the right to a clean and healthy environment.