Wednesday, October 4

The UN recognizes a healthy environment as a human right

The UN General Assembly approved this Thursday the recognition of a “clean, healthy and sustainable” environment as a human right.

The resolution, which has been promoted by a large group of countries including Spain, has achieved a majority of support: 161 votes in favor, none against and eight abstentions. It is not that this vote translates into a direct legal obligation for the states, but it does include an incitement that both governments and international organizations or companies “adopt policies to guarantee a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all” .

The text that has been revised in the assembly admits that “the damage caused to the environment affects the human rights of people and communities around the world”, although with special gravity to the most vulnerable groups, namely, “the indigenous peoples, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities”.

This resolution “will help reduce environmental injustices”, has valued the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, as reported by his spokesman. “However, this is only the beginning,” he concluded.

Damage ecosystems, threat to humanity

In this sense, consensus is growing around the creation of an international crime of ecocide that pursues “any illicit or arbitrary act perpetrated knowing that there is a great probability that it will cause serious, extensive or lasting damage to the environment”. However, it is still pending that the countries present a formal proposal –as they have done with this Thursday’s declaration– to include it in the International Criminal Court.

In addition to including the environment as a human right, the resolution notes that environmental degradation, climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and unsustainable development “are some of the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of generations present and future to fully enjoy all human rights.