UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Environment says States are obliged to protect the environment under human rights law from harms caused by private actors

Author: John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & the Environment, Published on: 29 July 2015

“Greening human rights”, 14 Jul 2015

It is...clear that human rights and environmental protection are dependent upon one another...[I]n the last two decades many human rights bodies have interpreted universally recognized rights, such as rights to life and health, to require States to take steps to protect the environment on which the enjoyment of such rights depends. The result has been a rapid “greening” of human rights law…States…have substantive obligations to adopt legal and institutional frameworks that protect against environmental harm that interferes with the enjoyment of human rights, including harm caused by private actors…For example, the African regional human rights commission has held that the failure of the Nigerian government to protect the Ogoni people from massive oil pollution in the Niger delta violated their rights to health and to a satisfactory environment. The Inter-American human rights tribunal held that by granting mining and logging concessions without the free, prior, and informed consent of the tribal people who lived on the land, Suriname had violated their rights to property...

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