Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment (2018)

In this report (A/HRC/37/59), the Special Rapporteur, Mr. John H. Knox, proposes 16 principles related to human rights and the environment that are based on existing work of the human rights system.

Background of the report

In its resolution 28/11, the Human Rights Council recognized the ongoing need to clarify some aspects of the human rights obligations relating to the environment. The Council asked the Special Rapporteur to continue to study those obligations, in consultation with Governments, human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations and others. The Special Rapporteur submitted his report—a culmination of five years of work in his role—on framework principles on human rights and the environment to the 37th session of the Council.

Read the Framework Principals report (HRC/37/59) (2018), available in the 6 UN official languages

Get the illustrated, “user-friendly” version of the Framework Principles

See a list of selected sources for the Framework Principles

The 16 Framework Principles

  1. States should ensure a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in order to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.
  2. States should respect, protect and fulfil human rights in order to ensure a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
  3. States should prohibit discrimination and ensure equal and effective protection against discrimination in relation to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
  4. States should provide a safe and enabling environment in which individuals, groups and organs of society that work on human rights or environmental issues can operate free from threats, harassment, intimidation and violence.
  5. States should respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in relation to environmental matters.
  6. States should provide for education and public awareness on environmental matters.
  7. States should provide public access to environmental information by collecting and disseminating information and by providing affordable, effective and timely access to information to any person upon request.
  8. To avoid undertaking or authorizing actions with environmental impacts that interfere with the full enjoyment of human rights, States should require the prior assessment of the possible environmental impacts of proposed projects and policies, including their potential effects on the enjoyment of human rights.
  9. States should provide for and facilitate public participation in decision-making related to the environment, and take the views of the public into account in the decision-making process.
  10. States should provide for access to effective remedies for violations of human rights and domestic laws relating to the environment.
  11. States should establish and maintain substantive environmental standards that are non-discriminatory, non-retrogressive and otherwise respect, protect and fulfil human rights.
  12. States should ensure the effective enforcement of their environmental standards against public and private actors.
  13. States should cooperate with each other to establish, maintain and enforce effective international legal frameworks in order to prevent, reduce and remedy transboundary and global environmental harm that interferes with the full enjoyment of human rights.
  14. States should take additional measures to protect the rights of those who are most vulnerable to, or at particular risk from, environmental harm, taking into account their needs, risks and capacities.
  15. States should ensure that they comply with their obligations to indigenous peoples and members of traditional communities, including by:
  16. States should respect, protect and fulfil human rights in the actions they take to address environmental challenges and pursue sustainable development.

Human Rights Council presentation

Read the Special Rapporteur’s statement made during the Council session.
See the video of his interactive dialogue with states and other stakeholders.

Press release

Read the press release calling for global recognition of the right to a safe and healthy environment.

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Recent Thematic Reports
Contact Information

Mr. David R. Boyd
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Palais des Nations, 8-14, Avenue de la Paix. 1211 Geneva 10
+41 22 917 9159
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