- Advertisement - spot_img
    AccueilEnvironmentTime’s up: The Council of Europe Must Put The Right to a...

    Time’s up: The Council of Europe Must Put The Right to a Healthy Environment in Law

    On its 75th anniversary, over 400 civil society organizations urge the Council of Europe to keep up with the times by recognizing this vital right.

    By Ann Harrison, Climate Advisor, Amnesty International; Amy Jacobsen, Legal Counsel Communications, Greenpeace International, Emma Pagliarusco, Advocacy Coordinator, Youth and Environment Europe; Camilla Pollera, Program Associate, Center for International Environmental Law, Katharina Rall, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch 

    On May 5, 1949, the Council of Europe (CoE) was established, and today, 75 years later, it is the cornerstone of human rights protection and enforcement in Europe, representing 46 Member States.

    Over these 75 years, the European Human Rights Framework has been instrumental both within Europe and globally in upholding human rights. Yet today, “the interlinked crises of pollution, climate change, and biodiversity […] constitute the single greatest challenge to human rights in our era. All this is now painfully clear. The greatest uncertainty about these challenges is what policy-makers will do about them.” Yet, European governments have been failing to effectively leverage the political institutions of the Council of Europe to address these threats. 

    The milestone anniversary of the Council of Europe is a moment to celebrate the Organization’s achievements in human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, and more importantly, to look ahead and aspire for a brighter future. And what better time for the CoE to step up and effectively recognize the right to a healthy environment?  

    As the triple planetary crisis escalates, the importance of protecting the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment has already been reflected by the UN Human Rights Council in October 2021, by the UN General Assembly in July 2022, and by 161 UN Member States through constitutions, legislation, and regional treaties. However, the European Convention on Human Rights has yet to enshrine it as an autonomous right explicitly. With 42 of its 46 Member States already protecting this right through national constitutions, legislation, or as signatories to the Aarhus Convention, it is imperative that the Council of Europe unifies these efforts into a binding legal framework to explicitly protect and recognize the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

    During the 4th Reykjavik Summit of the Council of Europe in May 2023,  leaders of all Member States committed to “strengthening [their] work at the Council of Europe on the human rights aspects of the environment based on the political recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right”. On April 18, 2024, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution stressing the urgency of a legally binding instrument recognizing an autonomous right to a healthy environment within the Council of Europe. The resolution recalls that the “post-Reykjavik Environmental Strategy will be implemented by and for the younger generations and must be supported by civil society”. 

    Over 400 civil society organizations, social movements, and Indigenous peoples organizations are united in demanding the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment through an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. On the 75th anniversary, we join their voices in calling on the Council of Europe to keep up with the times by directly addressing this pressing human right.

    The additional protocol would fill the gap in the European human rights framework, thus strengthening the existing commitments to respect, protect, and fulfill this human right, and further ensuring the enjoyment of all human rights. It would offer better protection for those who face the greatest risk of environmental harm and send an unequivocal message of solidarity to environmental human rights defenders who currently pay a grave price for their advocacy.

    Moreover, the additional protocol would support establishing stronger environmental laws and policies, improve the implementation and enforcement of these, increase levels of public participation, access to information, and access to justice in environmental decision-making, and reduce environmental and intergenerational injustices. All these elements are necessary to ensure a liveable planet (cleaner air, enhanced access to safe drinking water, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, among others) and a more sustainable future, especially for the youngest generations.

    As environmental challenges become more prevalent in cases before the European Court of Human Rights, an additional protocol would help consolidate and ensure greater coherence across the Court’s decisions, providing greater legal clarity. 

    This 75th anniversary marks the passage of time: for more than 50 of those 75 years, the Council of Europe has repeatedly ignored the calls to recognize the right to a healthy environment. While we join in celebrating the achievements to date, if the Council of Europe wants to maintain its relevance, it cannot rest on its laurels but must take up a leadership position in explicitly protecting this vital human right within the European Convention of Human Rights.

    Building on the Court’s significant caselaw, such as the recent KlimaSeniorinnen decision, isn’t it time for the Council of Europe to catch up with all other regional human rights institutions by recognizing the right to a healthy environment in law?

    Take action: 

    Published on May 6, 2024

    Source link



    S'il vous plaît entrez votre commentaire!
    S'il vous plaît entrez votre nom ici

    - Advertisement -spot_img

    A lire