Newsletter no. 27

Today I issued my 27th newsletter. It describes the reports I presented to the Council at its March session, including (a) a report describing the effects of environmental harm on the rights of children and outlining the obligations of States to protect children from such harm (A/HRC/37/58); (b) a report presenting 16 Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, which summarize the principal obligations of States under human rights law relating to the environment (A/HRC/37/59); and (c) country reports on Uruguay and Mongolia.

The newsletter also describes the launch by UN Environment at the Council session of its environmental rights initiative, which will help governments develop and implement policy and legal frameworks to protect environmental rights.

The third important development at the Council session occurred last week, on March 22, when the Council decided in resolution 37/8 to welcome the work undertaken by the Special Rapporteur in the implementation of the mandate, to take note with appreciation of the reports addressing children’s rights and presenting the Framework Principles, and to renew the mandate for another three years. Showing the strong continuing support of the Council for the mandate, the resolution had over 60 co-sponsors and was adopted by consensus.

The Council will name the next Special Rapporteur at its next session, which will be in June/July. I will continue to serve as the Special Rapporteur until my successor is appointed.

Other developments. Recent weeks also saw two extremely important developments in the Latin American and Caribbean region. First, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a far-reaching advisory opinion on human rights and the environment. The full opinion is available only in Spanish, but a detailed summary in English is available here.

Then, on March 4, countries in the region, under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), finished their negotiation of a treaty on the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters, to implement Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important environmental treaties and one of the most important human rights treaties of the last twenty years. Among many other important provisions, Article 9 provides that “each Party shall guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organizations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters, so that they are able to act free from threat, restriction and insecurity.” The agreement will be open for signature beginning in September 2018.

 

John Knox

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