The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 19/10, requested the Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, Mr. John Knox, to study the human rights obligations, including non-discrimination obligations, relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
Pursuant to this request, the Independent Expert undertook an extensive research project to map the statements made by important sources on the human rights obligations relating to the environment. The result was 14 individual reports, each of which describes statements made by a particular source or set of sources. The reports fall into four categories: (a) global human rights treaties and their application by treaty bodies; (b) United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council and its special procedure mandate holders; (c) regional human rights systems; and (d) international environmental instruments. The Independent Expert summarized the findings in his mapping report to the Human Rights Council at its 25th session in March 2014 (A/HRC/25/53).
The mapping report explains that, according to the sources reviewed, human rights obligations relating to the environment include:
- procedural obligations of States to assess environmental impacts on human rights and to make environmental information public, to facilitate participation in environmental decision-making, and to provide access to remedies for environmental harm;
- substantive obligations of States 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; and
- non-discrimination and other obligations of States relating to the protection of members of groups in vulnerable situations, including women, children and indigenous peoples.
The Mapping Report (A/HRC/25/53) is available in all UN languages: A C E F R S
The 14 individual reports are available in English:
- Individual Report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Individual Report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Individual Report on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Individual Report on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Individual Report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Individual Report on the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, including the Universal Periodic Review Process
- Individual Report on the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council
- Individual Report on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Individual Report on Global and Regional Environmental Agreements
- Individual Report on Non-Binding International Environmental Instruments
- Individual Report on the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision–Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention)
- Individual Report on the Asia-Pacific, Arab and African Regions as well as the European Social Charter
- Individual Report on the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Individual Report on the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union
A separate report on Climate Change and Human Rights compiles the statements on climate change that are contained in each of the 14 reports listed above.