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Human rights, environmental laws necessary for sustainable development: UN report

Integrative human rights and environmental protection laws and policies should be implemented to achieve sustainable development, according to a joint report [text, PDF] by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) [official websites]. The report, which was released under the framework of Rio+20 [official website], argued that the "protection of the environment and the promotion of human rights are increasingly seen as intertwined" and that individuals from poor countries are more vulnerable to diseases and other basic need insecurities as a direct result of the ecosystem. For example, the report claims that a direct causality has been established between malaria and ecosystems that are subject to irrigation projects such as dams, construction sites and poorly drained areas. In order to address such problems, legal and government regimes should be implemented at national and global levels. Despite many difficulties in achieving the goal of sustainable development due to insufficient resources and lack of long-term conservation efforts, the report called for an integration of human rights and environmental protections into the Rio+20 outcomes.

Earlier this month, UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation Catarina Albuquerque [official profile] made a similar call when she strongly urged [JURIST report] nations to support the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation during the Rio+20 conference. The UN General Assembly [official website] in 2010 adopted [JURIST report] a resolution [materials] declaring that access to clean and sanitized drinking water is a basic human right. It was passed by a vote of 122-0 with 41 member states abstaining. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] also called [JURIST report] all UN members to consider the protection of human rights in their Rio+20 negotiations.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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