New Climate Change Agreement Must Include Human Rights Protections – Special Procedures Mandate-Holders Open Letter

An Open Letter from Special Procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council calls on State Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to ensure full coherence between their human rights obligations and their efforts to address climate change. Continue reading »

September 2014 Newsletter

The ninth newsletter on the work of the Independent Expert is now available. This newsletter alerts readers of an upcoming deadline (15 October 2014) for governments, academics, and civil society to comment on the draft Guide to the UNEP Bali Guidelines on Rio Principle 10. Continue reading »

Mapping Report on Climate Change and Human Rights

The Independent Expert issued a new mapping report on human rights and climate change, which presents all climate change specific references from his other mapping reports in a concise, easily navigable format. Continue reading »

UNITAR/ Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy

The third UNITAR/Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy will be held on Sept. 5-7, with a focus on Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post-2015 Development, and the Future Climate Regime. The conference will bring together more than 150 scholars and policy experts, and cover more than 100 papers by researchers and practitioners from 40 different countries. For those interested in attending, the deadline for registration is 14 August 2014. More information is available at Continue reading »

Bangkok Consultation Report on EHRDs and Good Practices

Together with OHCHR and UNEP, the Independent Expert convened a regional expert meeting in May to discuss the relationship between human rights obligations and environmental protection, with a focus on environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) in Asia and the Pacific. Continue reading »

July 2014 Newsletter

The eighth newsletter on the work of the Independent Expert is now available.  It describes the recent activities of the Independent Expert, including identifying best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations to strengthen environmental policy making. Continue reading »

Environmental Democracy Index

The Access Initiative (TAI) and the World Resources Institute have announced a new metric for environmental rights, which they will launch later this year. According to TAI, “The Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) will be the first comprehensive index designed specifically to measure procedural rights in an environmental context.” Continue reading »

Human Rights and the Environment: 13th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights

The seminar proceedings for the 13th Informal Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights are now available online. The informal ASEM seminars promote mutual understanding and cooperation between Asia and Europe in the area of human rights. The 13th seminar, held last October in Copenhagen, focused on human rights and the environment. Continue reading »

Mary Robinson Appointed as Special Envoy for Climate Change

Mary Robinson of Ireland has been appointed as the Special Envoy for Climate Change by the Secretary General of the United Nations. The appointment was made prior to the 2014 Climate Summit hosted by the Secretary General in New York on 23 September 2014. Continue reading »

Dying to Save the World

A recent article in Ensia draws further attention to the increasing violence against environmental human rights defenders. The article, entitled “Dying to Save the World,” highlights the struggles activists face while defending the environment, and raises awareness about the rise in documented murders of local environmental activists across the globe. See “Dying to Save the World”

John Knox lectures at Vermont Law School

While at Vermont Law School this summer as its international environmental scholar in residence, John Knox presented an overview of his work for the mandate so far.  A video of his lecture is available here. Continue reading »

UN Resolution on Human Rights and Climate Change

On June 23, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on human rights and climate change. Among other things, the resolution requests that Human Rights Council mandate holders give special consideration to human rights and climate change within the context of their individual mandates. Continue reading »

Independent Expert Statement for World Environment Day

The United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and the environment, John Knox, encourages States to fulfill their human rights obligations relating to environmental protection. On World Environment Day, Mr. Knox also urges governments worldwide to protect those who defend the environment necessary for our enjoyment of human rights. Continue reading »

May 2014 Newsletter

The seventh newsletter from the Independent Expert describes mandate activities since February. The newsletter sheds some light on the  dangerous work done by environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs). Global Witness published a study that found the risk to EHRDs is growing. Continue reading »

The Emerging Law of Environmental Human Rights is Clearer Than Ever Before

In March 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted an important, far-reaching resolution on human rights and the environment.  The resolution is available here.  For a description of the resolution, see this article by John Knox at the Universal Rights Group website.     Continue reading »

Global Witness Releases Report on the Deaths of Environmental Human Rights Defenders

Global Witness has published a highly important report on the threats faced by environmental human rights defenders – those who peacefully advocate for the protection of human rights to the environment and land.  The non-profit organization found 908 documented murders of environmental and land defenders from 2002 through 2013, an average of one every week. Continue reading »

Costa Rica Country Report

The Independent Expert wrote his first country report following a visit to Costa Rica from 28 July to 1 August 2013. During the visit, Professor Knox looked at the how Costa Rica was implementing human rights related to the environment, identified good practices, and examined the challenges related to human rights and the environment. Continue reading »

Side Event on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations

On March 11, the Independent Expert spoke at a Side Event on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations in Geneva. He addressed human rights abuses and environmental harm caused by transnational corporations, and the relevant international legal framework. Continue reading »

The Independent Expert’s Report to the Human Rights Council

On March 11, the Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, made a statement to the Human Rights Council presenting his mapping report and the report on his visit to Costa Rica, and also described his plans for the upcoming year of the mandate. Continue reading »

Annual Report to the Human Rights Council

On March 11, the Independent Expert will present his annual report to the Human Rights Council. The report maps human rights obligations relating to the environment, on the basis of an extensive review of global and regional sources. The Independent Expert describes 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. He describes States’ substantive obligations 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. Finally, he outlines obligations relating to the protection of members of groups in vulnerable situations, including women, children and indigenous peoples. Continue reading »

Individual Mapping Reports on Human Rights and the Environment

Over the last year, the Independent Expert has overseen a research project to map the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The conclusions of the project are presented in the report to the Human Rights Council presented on 10 March 2014. The details of the research are contained in a series of 14 reports, each of which describes the relevant statements of a particular source or set of sources, including UN human rights treaty bodies, other UN bodies and mechanisms such as the Human Rights Council and its special rapporteurs, regional human rights systems, and international environmental instruments. To see those reports, click on the link. Continue reading »

Yale Conference on Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability

Yale University, together with UNITAR and other partners, is holding a conference September 5-7 on the relationship of human rights and environmental sustainability. The Call for Abstracts is at the link. Note that the deadline for abstracts is April 1! Continue reading »