Environment, Human rights, News

UNHRC officially recognizes the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment

By: Baljinnyam Ishgen
26 · Oct · 2021
Photograph by: Mathias P.R. Reding

On 8th of October 2021 UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 48/13 for the first time officially recognizing having a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a “human right”. UNHRC calls UN Member states to cooperate to implement this right. The Constitution of Mongolia has recognized the right to a healthy and safe environment and to be protected against environmental pollution and ecological imbalance.

Right to a healthy environment has been included in various terms in domestic legislations of more than 150 countries. As stated in the report of the Special Rapporteur in 2018, recognition of this right will have an importance of providing the basis for adopting stronger environmental laws and for applying the right in resolving the environment related disputes by the court. Moreover, it is crucial for citizens and civil society organizations to monitor the implementation of environment related laws.

Even though the legally binding nature of Resolution 48/13 is disputed, the recognition of the right will help member states to protect the right and it will provide a basis to challenge states and corporate actors for failing to take necessary measures on climate change and pollution.

As we know, UN has not recognized the right to breathe clean air officially, the recognition of right to have a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment will help people suffering from air pollution to take closer step in protecting their right to breathe clean air.

Even though Mongolia has officially recognized the right in its Constitution, the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment has been violated due to the issues such as air pollution and desertification. Recognition of the right by the UN will be an impetus for Mongolia to improve the protection and enforcement mechanism of this right. 

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