PARIS (24 October 2014) – The United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, held a press conference* today at the end of his five-day official visit to France, from 20 to 24 October, where he shared with the media his preliminary findings and conclusions, and discussed the relationship between climate change and human rights.
Mr. Knox recognised France as having been in the forefront of linking human rights and environmental protection. “I sought to visit France because its adoption of an Environmental Charter at the constitutional level is an innovative and important way to link human rights with environmental protection, which might serve as an inspiration to other countries,” he said.
“The Charter states that every person has the right to information about the environment and to participate in the development of public decisions with an impact on the environment,” the Independent Expert recalled. “This provision reflects and encourages emerging norms in human rights law regarding access to information and participation in the environmental context.”
France will host the 2015 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Mr. Knox and over 25 other UN human rights experts recently urged the State Parties to the Convention to recognise the adverse effects of climate change on human rights, including rights to life and health, and to adopt urgent and ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures to prevent further harm.
“Unless we change course very soon, climate change will have disastrous consequences for the enjoyment of human rights all around the world, especially for people living in severe poverty, who have done the least to contribute to climate change but will be affected most catastrophically by it,” he said.
“I am encouraged by the understanding of the French Government of the grave threat climate change poses to the full enjoyment of human rights, and its commitment to ensure a successful outcome to the 2015 talks,” Mr. Knox added.
The Independent Expert will prepare a public report with conclusions and recommendations on topics studied during the visit, which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015.
The UN Human Rights Council appointed John Knox in 2012 to serve as Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The Council requested Mr. Knox, 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. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/IEEnvironment/Pages/IEenvironmentIndex.aspx
The UN human rights experts 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, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
For more information and
media requests, please contact: In Paris (during the visit): Melinda Ching Simon: +41 79 752 0481 / [email protected]) In Geneva (before and after the visit): Melinda Ching Simon (+41 22 917 9113 / [email protected])