Citizen clean

Every individual has a right to live in a clean environment, says the UN

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Everyone has the right to live in a world free from toxic pollution and environmental degradation, declared the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It is for the first time that any un organisation has recognised the association between environment and human rights. The declaration was made at the conclusion of the commission's 57th session.

"Many fundamental rights incorporated in the universal declaration of human rights have important environmental implications," said Klaus Toepfer, executive director of United Nations Environment Programme ( unep ). "Environmental conditions play a vital role in establishing the extent to which the citizens get an opportunity to exercise their rights to life, health, adequate food, housing, livelihood and culture. We should recognise that those who pollute or destroy the natural environment are not just committing a crime against nature, but are also violating human rights," asserted Toepfer. Effective implementation of international environmental treaties on biodiversity, climate change, desertification and chemicals can contribute significantly in guaranteeing human rights, Toepfer added.

unep will organise a seminar on the issue and the results will be discussed at the commission's next session is scheduled in March 2002. The results will also become a criteria for assessing the success of sustainable development programmes launched since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The 10-year review will form the basis for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.

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