Drafting an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right to a healthy environment
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 30 September 2009 (32nd Sitting) (see Doc. 12003, report of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture
and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Mendes Bota; and Doc. 12043, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr Chope). Text adopted
by the Assembly on 30 September 2009 (32nd Sitting).
1 The Parliamentary
Assembly reaffirms its commitment to issues regarding the environment
and considers it not only a fundamental right of citizens to live
in a healthy environment but a duty of society as a whole and each
individual in particular to pass on a healthy and viable environment
to future generations. It further points out that some environmental
assets are unfortunately non-renewable and that environmental degradation
is often irreversible.
2 The Assembly notes and regrets, however, that in spite of
the political and legal initiatives taken both nationally and internationally,
environmental protection is still very inadequately guaranteed.
3 In this context, the Assembly recalls the Council of Europe’s
commitment to environmental protection which, in particular, has
produced the 1979 Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife
and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention, ETS No. 104), the 1993 Convention
on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous
to the Environment (ETS No. 150) and the 1998 Convention on the
Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law (ETS No. 172).
The Assembly also recalls its Recommendation 1614 (2003)
on the environment and human rights and its Recommendation 1431 (1999)
on future action to be taken by the Council of Europe
in the field of environment protection, which already proposed adding
an environmental component to the European Convention on Human Rights.
5 The Assembly also wishes to refer to Principle 1 of the 1972
Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
(Stockholm Declaration), which stipulated that “Man has the fundamental
right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an
environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being”,
and to the various constitutional texts in Council of Europe member states
which embody provisions on environmental protection.
6 The Assembly notes the case law in the environmental field
developed by the European Court of Human Rights, commends the Manual on human rights and the environment– Principles emerging from the case-law of
the European Court of Human Rights, published by the
Council of Europe in 2006, for its valuable insight and recital
of the principles emerging from that case law from 1980 to November
2005, and expresses the hope that this manual will be regularly
updated. This case law has afforded protection for the right to
a healthy environment through a “knock-on effect” by upholding the
individual rights in Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention
on Human Rights.
7 The Assembly recalls that setting down this right is consistent
with the concern to adapt to the development of society and with
the logical extension of the role performed by the Council of Europe
in the field of environmental protection.
8 The Assembly is also anxious about the escalating environmental
degradation whose effects reach far beyond national boundaries and
underlines the need for states to display co-operation and share
responsibility in the event of damage to the environment.
Bearing in mind that society as a whole and each individual
in particular must pass on a healthy and viable environment to future
generations, in accordance with the principle of solidarity between
generations, the Assembly invites the governments of member states
9.1 provide adequate protection
for the life, health, bodily integrity and property of the individual
as guaranteed by Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the European Convention
on Human Rights;
9.2 establish information systems concerning the environment
and, wherever possible, foster public participation in decision-making
9.3 co-operate and share responsibility in the event of damage
to the environment.
The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
10.1 draw up an additional protocol
to the European Convention on Human Rights, recognising the right
to a healthy and viable environment;
10.2 include Assembly representatives in the group of experts
that will deal with the matter.