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UN General Assembly deemed healthy environment a Human Right

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution that recognised everyone’s right to a healthy environment. It was stated that the action is a crucial one in halting the alarming decline of the natural environment. India supported the resolution but abstained from one of the resolution’s key clauses. It expressed dissatisfaction with the resolution’s methodology and content.

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KEY POINTS:

  • The UNGA recognises the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right, according to the resolution’s operative paragraph 1.
  • Ashish Sharma, a counsellor at India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, asked that this comment be recorded in the meeting’s official records.

Decline of the natural world:

  • Globally, our natural world is changing. Many species have reached an alarming point, and many are close to being extinct.
  • For instance, habitat loss and climate change have made the migratory monarch butterfly an endangered, threatened species, according to the most recent IUCN Red List.
  • Mountain ranges and glaciers are also melting more quickly than previously imagined, according to scientists.
  • The effects of climate change are so obvious that people see them frequently. One such is the recent spike in temperature throughout Europe.
  • The UN intensified its efforts to safeguard nature before it was too late in response to its deteriorating status.

Resolution Adopted by UNGA:

  • The UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a fundamental human right with 161 votes in favour and eight against.
  • The resolution, which is based on a text identical to one the Human Rights Council endorsed last year, urges governments, non-governmental organisations, and private companies to step up efforts to maintain a healthy environment for all people.
  • The resolution that was adopted took fifty years to craft. The right was established in the Stockholm Declaration of 1972 and has since been incorporated into regional accords, national laws, and constitutions.

Background of the Environment Action Plan by UN:

  • The first international conference to make the environment a top priority was the United Nations Conference on Environment in Stockholm in 1972.
  • A set of guidelines for responsible environmental management were adopted by the participants.
  • The Stockholm Declaration launched a global conversation on the relationship between economic development, environmental pollution of the air, water, and oceans, and human well-being. It also elevated environmental issues to the top of the international agenda.
  • The establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme was one of the key outcomes of the Stockholm conference. The UN Human Rights Council officially declared a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment to be a fundamental human right in October 2021.
  • The Council urged States from all across the world to cooperate to implement this recently recognised right in resolution 48/13.
  • By designating a Special Rapporteur to focus solely on that subject, the Council also expanded its attention on the effects of climate change on human rights with a second resolution (48/14).

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