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Heads of UN and PACE: building a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment must become ‘a binding principle’

The heads of the UN and PACE have agreed to step up co-operation towards building a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and called for a paradigm shift to turn this from a policy issue into one of “binding principle”.

During a meeting in New York on 11 December, PACE President Rik Daems and UN Secretary-General António Guterres discussed the link between the environment and human rights.

The UN Secretary-General confirmed his participation in the PACE debate on “The environment and human rights” during the April 2021 part-session, which will make the case for the universal legal recognition of the right to live in a healthy environment. It will also provide a platform for co-operation, co-ordination and synergies with the Assembly’s national, regional and international partners, including the global lead organisation, the United Nations.

They also discussed the need for progress on gender equality and expressed concern about the persistent violence again women and a rise in such violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, they highlighted the relevance and importance of implementing “the gold standard” of the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

They also underlined the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and agreed on the importance of the parliamentary contribution to achieving the sustainable development goals.

The President of the Assembly also held other high-level bilateral meetings with, in particular, Volkan Bozkir, President of the UN General Assembly, and Courtney Nemroff, US Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The President of the Assembly also had a video conference with Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, during which they discussed possibilities for co-operation and synergies on human rights issues, including as regards the environment and human rights.