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The Right to a Healthy Environment

How to use international legal mechanism for the protection of our environment and our health – a manual


The successes of the human rights movement led to the idea to apply a rights-based approach to confront global environmental devastation. But it was not until the Stockholm Conference in 1972 that the right to a healthy environment was explicitly recognised in an international environmental law document.

The Stockholm Declaration had a major impact on the next two decades of the development of international environmental law. However, it took until 1992 to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro to reiterate the link between the rights of human beings and the protection of the environment.

Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration reads as follows: “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.”

The principles of both Declarations are based on a rights approach which is still relatively new to the concept of international environmental law.

The Right to a Healthy Environment.