• Recently, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously voted for recognising a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a Universal Human Right.
  • If recognised by all, the right will be the first of its kind in more than 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
  • UDHR: The 30 rights and freedoms include civil and political rights, like the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy and economic, social and cultural rights, like the right to social security, health and education, etc.

Important points:

  • The concept of human rights in general emerged after the Second World War (1939-45), but the right to a healthy environment, as one of those human rights, was never a priority.
  • The right to a clean environment is rooted in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, popularly called as the Magna Carta of human environment.
  • It contained principles and recommendations for environmental policy.
  • ‘Caring for the Earth 1991’ and the ‘Earth Summit’ of 1992” also declared that human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

United Nations Human Rights Council

  • It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world.
  • The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2006. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UNGA.
  • India was elected in January 2019 for a period of three years.


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