New York – The UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on Thursday, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right. The resolution was proposed by a group of countries, with Slovenia playing a significant role.
The resolution was adopted by 161 votes in favour, none against and eight abstentions. It was welcomed by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who labelled it “an important tool for accountability and climate justice”.
“The well-being of people around the world and the survival of future generations depends on the health of our planet,” Guterres tweeted.
Acting as co-leader of the process, Slovenia played a significant role in adopting the resolution, said the country’s Ambassador to the UN Boštjan Malovrh.
“The resolution is a key milestone for the entire international community in connecting environment and human rights, thus strengthening hope for new generations,” Malovrh said.
“The resolution declares access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right on a global level and broadens the framework of human rights protection to some of the most burning issues of the 21st century,” Slovenian Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
“It does not directly create new obligations for states but it dictates future global standards and it will serve as encouragement for activities in the future,” the ministry added.
Apart from Slovenia, the resolution was proposed by Switzerland, Costa Rica, Maldives and Morocco. The proponents launched the process to link human rights with environment in 2011 in the UN Human Rights Council. Last year the Human Rights Council adopted a text similar to that passed in New York today.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the world had never faced such a large scope of threats to human rights. Air pollution causes 13 deaths a minute globally, while deterioration of natural environments and biodiversity threatens cultural identity of societies, she said.