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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 60

Human Rights Day - 10 December 2008 - WECF states: "A Healthy Environment for All is a basic human right"

10.12.2008 |Anke Stock




A year ago, the United Nations Secretary General launched a year-long UN system-wide advocacy campaign to mark the 60th birthday of the UDHR in 2008 “Dignity and justice for all of us”.

Dignity as well as justice is an integral part of the women’s environmental network WECF. Our overall aim “a healthy environment for all” which provides for a life in dignity can only be achieved by respecting basic human rights, such as the right to life (article 3 UDHR) and the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of everyone (article 25 UDHR). In particular, climate change poses a direct threat to universally recognised human rights, such as the right to food and the right to adequate housing and water.

WECF promotes also the principle of environmental justice. This means the fair and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of gender, race, colour, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws.

A recent case within our network shows significant flaws of the commitment of Governments to human rights, violating the principle of environmental justice as well as specific human rights. Russian authorities intimidated the director of one of our Russian partner NGOs. Her office was searched without a search warrant by policemen alleging the NGO had not paid its taxes. Similarly, policemen searched her home and they came to her son’s kindergarden to inquire about her and her child. Our partner feels threatened by the Russian authorities and fears for her and her four children’s life.

On human rights day we call upon all Governments to abide by their international obligations they have committed to, in particular, the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.