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Background paper 1
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Background paper 6

Human Rights and the Environment



The many linkages between protection of human rights and protection of the environment have long been recognized. The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment declared that "man's environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights--even the right to life itself."

In its decision 2001/111 the Commission on Human Rights invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to consider organizing a joint expert seminar "to review and assess progress achieved since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in promoting and protecting human rights in relation to environmental questions and in the framework of Agenda 21."

The Seminar was held in Geneva on 16 January 2002 and was attended by representatives of governments, civil society and international organizations. It had before it the Conclusions of a preparatory meeting of a group of experts held on the two days prior to the Seminar. The experts had been asked to prepare a review and assessment of the decade since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) as outlined in decision 2001/111. To assist them in this task, the experts had before them six background papers on various international and national developments relating to human rights and environmental questions.

The report of the Seminar was finalized in the light of States' comments and submitted to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-eighth session (E/CN.4/2002/109).


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