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‘A new generation of human rights is emerging, including the right to live in a healthy environment’

On the eve of the 2021 Human Rights Day, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rik Daems, made the following statement:

“On this year’s Human Rights Day, as we celebrate the progress made, let us not forget that fundamental rights and freedoms must be respected and advanced also in times of emergency.

In responding to our common challenges – such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, violence against women, migratory crisis and climate change – we must choose an approach that is inspired by, based on, and anchored in the respect for human rights. Not only is it the right way to do it, it is also the most sustainable solution to our problems in the long run.

The European Convention on Human Rights ensures the respect for fundamental rights and freedoms for over 800 million European citizens. However, a new generation of human rights is emerging and it is evident that the full enjoyment of the rights granted by the Convention comes with a significant precondition – a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Therefore, this September, our Assembly voted unanimously that the right to live in a healthy environment should be recognised as a human right. This paradigm-shift recognises that a safe environment is not a policy issue like any other but, substantively, a matter of human rights.

In the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we will continue our work to advance and expand human rights protection, especially regarding the environment, for the benefit of all citizens of our member States.

Because upholding human rights requires our full attention and commitment not only on this day - but on every day of the year.”