For Immediate Release
Earthjustice Presents 2008 'Environmental Rights Report' to UN
Documenting worldwide recognition of the relationship between environmental protection and human rights
GENEVA - Earthjustice, a US-based environmental law NGO, will submit its
annual issue paper on the status of environmental rights to the United
Nations Human Rights Council today in Geneva. According to the report,
while environmental harms continue to undermine human rights around the
world, a growing number of international, regional, and national
institutions recognize the right to a clean and healthy environment.
Download the report (PDF)
The 2008 Environmental Rights Report reviews the work of
international, regional, and domestic institutions from 2007 for legal
developments in the recognition of the right to a healthy environment,
and presents case studies demonstrating the connection between the
environment and human rights. The case studies in this year's report
are focused on a particular issue at the intersection of human rights
and the environment -- the transboundary nature of environmental
problems. The report also provides a comprehensive list of national
constitutional provisions protecting environmental rights.
"We are pleased to report on developments that illustrate how
governments and international institutions are working to establish the
human right to a healthy environment," says Kirsten Anderson of
Earthjustice. "However, because environmental problems often transcend
political boundaries, international, regional, and domestic governing
bodies should work in cooperation to ensure that the right to a clean
and healthy environment is protected."
Highlights from this year's report:
- The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007 during its 107th plenary
meeting. Article 29 of the Declaration states, "Indigenous peoples have
the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the
productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States
shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous
peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination."
- Representatives of the Small Island Developing States
adopted the Male' Declaration on the Human Dimension of Climate Change
on November 14, 2007. The Declaration called for urgent action to be
taken by the international community at the United Nation Framework
Convention on Climate Change in Bali to protect people, the planet, and
prosperity. According to the Declaration, Small Island States are
"[c]oncerned that climate change has clear and immediate implications
for the full enjoyment of human rights including inter alia the right
to life, the right to take part in cultural life, the right to use and
enjoy property, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right
to food, and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical
and mental health."
- On August 19, 2007, a new Constitution of the Kingdom of
Thailand was adopted. The 2007 Constitution upholds the rights of
communities to "conserve or restore their customs, local knowledge,
good arts and culture of their community and of the nation and
participate in the management, maintenance, preservation and
exploitation of natural resources, the environment and the biological
diversity in a balanced and sustainable fashion."
- In June 2007, Chile's Supreme Court ruled that the state
must compensate 356 residents in the mining city of Arica for health
problems caused by years of exposure to open deposits of toxic waste.
Testing revealed the presence of lead and arsenic in many surrounding
homes, and blood tests revealed that thousands of residents have high
levels of lead in their blood. The court held the state liable because
the Ministry of Health failed to adopt measures to protect the health
of residents from environmental contamination.