United Nations Environment Programme’s Initiatives on Human Rights

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has recognized, developed and raised awareness of the linkages between the environment and the enjoyment of human rights through a number of initiatives. For example, in December 2009, UNEP jointly organized with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) a high-level meeting on the topic of the future of human rights and environment. The two-day meeting, attended by academics, judges, other legal experts, representatives of international governmental organizations, public interest groups and policy makers, produced a road map for bridging the human rights and environment agendas, which included, among other things, a review of international, national and regional case law and practice with a view to understanding how linkages between human rights and environmental have already been demonstrated and implemented in practice.

In 2012, UNEP and OHCHR submitted a joint report on human rights and the environment to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Since 2012, UNEP has partnered in supporting the Independent Expert in a joint project identifying and disseminating good practices related to human rights and the environment, including through organising a series of thematic consultations. Following up on one of the commitments from the 2009 meeting, in 2014 UNEP published a compendium on human rights and environment, which includes references to regional human rights instruments, multilateral environmental agreements, international resolutions, declarations, summaries of decisions of the human rights supervisory mechanisms in Africa, Europe and the Americas, the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Committee, and other sources. UNEP has also held various side events on human rights and the environment in different arenas, including during the Human Rights Council, the Rio+20 Conference, and the former Governing Council meeting.

Further Information

The outcome document from the 2009 high level meeting is at: http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/Events/HumanRightsandEnvironment/tabid/2046/language/en-US/Default.aspx, the 2012 Joint Report is available at: http://www.unep.org/delc/Portals/119/JointReportOHCHRandUNEPonHumanRightsandtheEnvironment.pdf; the 2014 Compendium is available at: http://www.unep.org/delc/Portals/119/publications/UNEP_Compendium_HRE.pdf.