UN Mandate

In March 2012, in Resolution 19/10, the Human Rights Council created a new three-year mandate on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and suitable environment.   The Council decided to appoint an Independent Expert, whose tasks will be:

(a) To study, in consultation with Governments, relevant international organizations and intergovernmental bodies, including the United Nations Environment Programme and relevant multilateral environment agreements, human rights mechanisms, local authorities, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, including those representing indigenous peoples and other persons in vulnerable situations, the private sector and academic institutions,the human rights obligations, including non-discrimination obligations, relatingto the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment;

(b) To identify, promote and exchange views on best practices relatingto the use of human rights obligations and commitments to inform, support and strengthen environmental policymaking, especially in the area of environmental protection, and, in that regard, to prepare a compendium of best practices;

(c) To make recommendations, consistent with heror his mandate, that could help the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal 7;

(d) To take into account the results of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012, and to contribute  a human rights perspective to follow-up processes;

(e) To apply a gender perspective by, inter alia,considering the particular situation of women and girls and identifyinggender-specific discrimination and vulnerabilities;

(f) To work in close coordination, while avoiding unnecessary duplication, with other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Human Rights Council, relevant United Nations bodies and the treaty bodies, taking into account the views of other stakeholders, including relevant regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and academic institutions;

(g) To submit a first report, including conclusions and recommendations, to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second session and annually thereafter.


In July 2012, the President of the Human Rights Council appointed Professor John H. Knox, of Wake Forest University School of Law, to be the first Independent Expert, beginning in August 2012.