An historic UN resolution gives legal ground to the fight against climate change. From now on a clean environment is a human right.  

London, 9 Oct. 2021 – Though a United Nations resolution is not legally binding, The human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment’ is from now on a fundamental right of the person. This means everyone has the right to defend this entitlement to safety and health. Collectively as individually.

In the text the Human Rights Council ”notes that the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is related to other rights that are in accordance with existing international law.

In substance protesting to ask to stop climate change and industrial pollution means asking respect of a human fundamental right. This basic right is the pre-requisite to enjoy the other rights enshrined in the HR declaration because global warming and air pollution are basic threats to the right to life. That’s why this resolution falls indirectly within the frame of international law which protects and enforces human rights and those who fight to defend them.

Let’s say the text establishes a transitive relation in law to protect our right to safe and clean environment: rights to life and health are fundamental ones threatened from the destruction of the global environment, therefore the defence of the right to safe and healthy environment equates to the fight to defend life.

video posted by activist during Extinction Rebellion rally in Helsinki on 7 October 2021

The World Health Organization estimates each year 13.7 million die globally by air pollution (that’s 24.3% of the global total deaths), while a report from CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters), says in 2020, the second-hottest year on record, apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, was dominated by climate-related disasters largely responsible for the 389 recorded events resulted in 15,080 deaths, 98.4 million people affected, and economic losses of at least $171.3 billion. 

Top global polluters China, Russia, India and Japan abstained, while US did not vote as not currently member of UN Human Rights Council.

In times of widespread protest to fight the climate change, this resolution marks an historic step forward giving climate movements and activists more scope of legal defense. In London the last Extinction Rebellion rally ended with 200 arrests by the police who already listed the movement among terrorist threats in UK.

Britain was right expected to vote against the resolution as it opposed it from its beginning, but Reuters report the vote in favour came as a surprise probably motivated by the upcoming COP26, the climate summit the UK government is propping up to publicize its climate commitment across the national electorate and its credibility as international partner.

London, 21 August 2021 -protesters gathered in Oxford Circus for the Extinction Rebellion rally – photo © 2021