At the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (Council), Member States adopted the resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment which highlights the critical role of child human rights defenders (CHRDs) acting on the environment!
Like in previous resolutions, the initial text-only expressed deep concern at the threats that environmental degradation poses for persons in vulnerable situations, including children, as well as the recognition of the particular vulnerability of children to the effects of environmental harm. It also reasserts State obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, including child rights, when taking action to address climate change.
However, thanks to advocacy undertaken by Child Rights Connect together with members, the resolution now builds on the empowering language from the Council’s resolution 45/30 on the Rights of the Child: realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment. As such, the final text recognizes the essential role that CHRDs is playing worldwide in the environmental context, both as individuals and groups, by:
- Recognising “the positive, important and legitimate role played by children and by child- and youth-led movements that defend human rights relating to a healthy environment, and welcoming the work of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in engaging and consulting with children,” and
- Requesting “the Special Rapporteur, in fulfilling the mandate: To continue to study the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in consultation with” (…) several stakeholders, including “children and youth”.
Child Rights Connect successfully encouraged States to welcome the work of the Special Rapporteur in engaging and consulting with children, as well as including children and youth among the list of stakeholders that the Special Rapporteur should continue to engage with. This is of the utmost importance as it shows States recognizing once again the crucial role of children in defending the environment and the need to uphold their right to be heard and create spaces for their views to be taken into account.
The resolution on human rights and the environment was adopted by consensus without a vote on March 23rd along with 30 other HRC resolutions!