Environmental human rights defenders, the rule of law and the human right to a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment: last trends and challenges
Keywords:Environmental defenders, human right to a healthy environment, United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders
Recently, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has recognised the universality of the human right to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment. However, for decades, environmental human rights defenders have struggled for this right and have paid a high price for it: threats, reprisals, penalisation, and even their lives. The strengthening of the environmental rule of law correlates with the reciprocal synergy and interdependence on environmental rights and human rights as highlighted by the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations under the scope of the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Escazú Agreement and the Aarhus Convention are among the latest developments of legal and institutional guarantees for environmental defenders: a legal protection clause in the Escazú Agreement for human rights defenders in environmental matters and the setting of a new Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders for the Aarhus parties as a rapid response mechanism, under Article 3(8). The most recent trends on climate litigation have reached the European Court of Human Rights with several pending applications on greenhouse emissions and compliance with the Paris Agreement that merits attention, as well as the protection of human rights defenders in the case-law and the third-party interventions of the Council of Europe (COE) Commissioner for Human Rights.
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