Human Rights and Environment: Moving the Global Agenda Forward

Human rights and environmental are two separate corpuses of law, dealt by different organizations and based on different principles. Yet, the two fields have a lot in common, and international cooperation can only gain from a more integrated approach to these fields. Healthy ecosystems are the foundation for human life and for the fulfillment of the rights that are inherent to human life. Further, the existence and exercise of human rights can be an incentive to making the right decisions for the environment. 

 Recent developments have increased momentum for synergies between the human rights and the environment fields. A historic development is the establishment by the Human Rights Council last year of a new special procedure, i.e. the Independent Expert on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment human rights and the environment (known as Independent expert on Human Rights and the Environment) and appointed prof. John Knox to such position

UNEP, the OHCHR and the Independent Expert have recently engaged in a joint project on good practices on human rights and the environment. Through a consultative process, the partners will engage with stakeholders, build political momentum and ownership within both the human rights and the environment communities, towards, ultimately, strengthening the nexus between human rights and environment. In this context, two consultations were held, in Nairobi (February 2013) and Panama (July 2013).  Human Rights and the Environment : Rio+20: Joint Report OHCHR and UNEP


The Compendium on human rights and the environment takes stock of the normative and jurisprudential developments in the field of human rights and the environment.  It describes international instruments that relate to human rights and the environment, such as multilateral environmental agreements, international human rights treaties, and international resolutions and declarations.  It also includes summaries of decisions rendered by the human rights supervisory mechanisms in Africa, Europe and the Americas, as well as the Human Rights Committee, the International Court of Justice and the World Bank's Inspection Panel.  

The objective of the publication is to identify and promote good practices relating to the use of human rights obligations and commitments to inform, support and strengthen environmental policy making, especially in the areas of environmental protection and management.