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Mongolia: UN expert to assess links between human rights and environment

GENEVA (14 September 2017) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, will undertake his first official visit to Mongolia from 19 to 27 September 2017 to assess how the country is promoting human rights in the context of environmental protection.

“Historically, among many commendable traits in the Mongolian culture, we can point to a rare ability to live not in opposition to nature, but in harmony with it,” said Mr. Knox. “Mountains, forests and parks have been protected from hunting and logging in Mongolia since the 12th century.” 

Mr. Knox said his mandate had consistently illustrated that a safe and healthy environment was essential for the enjoyment of human rights everywhere.

“This is especially critical for the protection of human rights in Mongolia, which has seen a number of challenges to its shared environment, such as rapid urbanization, industrial growth, deforestation, desertification, air pollution and freshwater scarcity,” said the Special Rapporteur.

“I am looking forward to visiting Mongolia because it will provide a useful opportunity to explore the present relationship between defending the environment and protecting human rights in the country,” Mr. Knox added.

“I will assess, in particular, the lessons Mongolia has learned and the challenges it still faces with regard to the realisation of environmental rights, as well as how the country is addressing environmental challenges with human rights impacts such as urbanization, mining, deforestation, air and water pollution and the loss of biological diversity.”

During his nine-day visit, at the invitation of the Government, the human rights expert will meet Government officials and experts, as well as representatives of civil society, academia and business.

Mr. Knox will present his preliminary observations on the visit at a press conference on the last day of the mission, Wednesday, 27 September at 12:00 local time, in the UN Auditorium, UN House, UN Street-14, Sukhbaatar District, Ulaanbaatar. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018.

The UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr. John H. Knox in 2012 to serve as Independent Expert, and reappointed him in 2015 as Special Rapporteur on human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The Council requested him, a professor of international law at Wake Forest University in the United States, to clarify the application of human rights norms to environmental protection, and to identify best practices in the use of human rights obligations in environmental policy-making. 

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Mongolia

For more information and media requests, please contact:
During the mission: Mr. Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 79 109 6872 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org), Ms. Mariyam Nawaz (mariyam.nawaz@one.un.org / +976 9542 1358) or Ms. Tsetsegmaa Amar (+976 11 327 585 ext 1104 / tsetsegmaa.amar@one.un.org)

Before, during and after the mission: Mr. Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 79 109 6872/ jgaziyev@ohchr.org)

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