Should the UN establish a right to a healthy environment? ABA urges US to vote yes.

The Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by SAPhotog/Shutterstock.

Thank you to Amanda Robert for writing about the UN Resolution for the Right to a Healthy Environment in the ABA Journal. I’ve really been consumed in this issue for the last few months. All the work has already been done of the the past two decades. It’s a matter of pushing it across the finish line.

In a late February briefing, Nadia Ahmad introduced a group of ABA members and Capitol Hill staffers to Resolution 48/13—a measure adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council that for the first time recognizes having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right.

Ahmad, a member of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Council, has been working with a group of her colleagues to promote the resolution, which was proposed by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland. After most of the U.N. council’s 47 member states passed it in October, it will now go to the U.N. General Assembly for further consideration.

Ahmad hopes the United States will support Resolution 48/13 when it comes up for a vote in April or May. The United States was not a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council at the time it adopted the resolution, but according to Reuters, it has expressed concerns that the recognition of new rights could dilute traditional civil and political rights.

“The U.S. needs to be able to show itself as a world leader on environmental rights and climate rights, and by supporting this resolution, it will be on the right side of history,” says Ahmad, a visiting associate professor at Yale Law School and an associate professor at Barry University School of Law.

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Nadia Ahmad

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