No more procrastination on climate change, says German Constitutional Court in landmark decision

by Anna-Christina Schmidl, Universal Rights Group Geneva Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 24 March 2021, the First Senate of the German Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) rendered its long-awaited decision on four constitutional complaints [1] brought in relation to Germany’s Federal Climate Change Act (Bundes-Klimaschutzgesetz) of 2019. The plaintiffs – some of whom are young climate activists – had alleged, in part , that the Act violates the fundamental rights of future generations by failing to prescribe in sufficient detail a long-term pathway for …

Environmental Justice, Climate Change and the Right to a Healthy Environment in the Biden Administration

by Professor Dan Magraw, President Emeritus of the Centre for International Environmental Law Blog, Blog, By invitation

28 April 2021 United States President Joe Biden has prioritized achieving environmental justice and combatting climate change, following up on campaign pledges. The Biden Administration’s focus on climate change is evident in early Executive Orders (EOs) [i] and in the April 22 Climate Summit that he convened. President Biden’s focus on environmental justice (EJ) is manifested in the same EOs. He …

Brazilian indigenous leaders urge the International Criminal Court to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro over destruction of the Amazon

by Mariana Montoya, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Brazilian indigenous leaders have requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to investigate [i] President Jair Bolsonaro for ‘crimes against humanity’, accusing him of unprecedented environmental damage, killings, and persecution. Chief Raoni Metuktire, the leader of the Kayapo people, and Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, leader of the Paiter Surui tribe, filed the claim at the Hague-based body on 22 …

Norway’s Supreme Court dismisses claim based on the right to a healthy environment and allows new oil exploration in the Arctic

by Louis Mason, Universal Rights Group and Renata Politi, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 22 December 2020, Norway’s Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the closely followed climate lawsuit based on the constitutional right to a healthy environment, known as the Norwegian Arctic Oil case . The appeal was brought to the Supreme Court by environmental groups that disputed an administrative decision, based on a 2013 legislation, which authorised the administration to grant licences to oil …

The right to a healthy environment gives rise to a growing wave of climate change litigation

by Renata Politi, Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

In an amicus curiae brief submitted in the Norwegian Artic Oil case currently pending before the Norwegian Supreme Court, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment , David R. Boyd, and UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes , Marcos A Orellana, argued that “the justiciability of the right to a healthy environment empowers citizens and civil society, strengthening democratic decision-making and fostering accountability for political decisions. Access to justice is itself a fundamental human right, including in the …

Report on the 75th session of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly

by URG-NYC Team Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes, New York City, Universal Rights Group NYC

Quick summary During the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the Third Committee, tasked with addressing human rights issues and concerns, ran from 5 October – 20 November at UN Headquarters in New York, and online (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This year’s Third Committee featured presentations by a number of senior UN officials, including Ms. Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human …

How UN recognition of the right to water and sanitation has informed efforts to secure universal recognition of the right to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

At the end of July, the world celebrated the tenth anniversary of the universal recognition of the right to water and sanitation by the UN General Assembly (GA). To mark the occasion the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, issued a statement (which can be read here) in which he hailed this …