Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment
Sierra Club Legal Defense Club
May 16, 1994
Guided by the United Nations Charter, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action
of the World Conference of Human Rights, and other relevant international
human rights instruments,
Guided also by the Stockholm Declaration of the
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the World
Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,
Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development, and
other relevant instruments of international environmental law,
Guided also by the Declaration on the Right to
Development, which recognizes that the right to development is
an essential human right and that the human person is the central
subject of development,
Guided further by fundamental principles of international
Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility
and interdependence of all human rights,
Recognizing that sustainable development links
the right to development and the right to a secure, healthy and
ecologically sound environment,
Recalling the right of peoples to self-determination
by virtue of which they have the right freely to determine their
political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural
Deeply concerned by the severe human rights consequences
of environmental harm caused by poverty, structural adjustment
and debt programmes and by international trade and intellectual
Convinced that the potential irreversibility
of environmental harm gives rise to special responsibility to
prevent such harm,
Concerned that human rights violations lead to
environmental degradation and that environmental degradation leads
to human rights violations,
The Following Principles Are Declared:
1. Human rights, an ecologically sound environment, sustainable
development and peace are interdependent and indivisible.
2. All persons have the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically
sound environment. This right and other human rights, including
civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, are universal,
interdependent and indivisible.
3. All persons shall be free from any form of discrimination
in regard to actions and decisions that affect the environment.
4. All persons have the right to an environment adequate to
meet equitably the needs of present generations and that does
not impair the rights of future generations to meet equitably
5. All persons have the right to freedom from pollution, environmental
degradation and activities that adversely affect the environment,
threaten life, health, livelihood, well-being or sustainable development
within, across or outside national boundaries.
6. All persons have the right to protection and preservation
of the air, soil, water, sea-ice, flora and fauna, and the essential
processes and areas necessary to maintain biological diversity
7. All persons have the right to the highest attainable standard
of health free from environmental
8. All persons have the right to safe and healthy food and
water adequate to their well-being.
9. All persons have the right to a safe and healthy working
10. All persons have the right to adequate housing, land tenure
and living conditions in a secure, healthy and ecologically sound
11 . All persons have the right not to be evicted from their
homes or land for the purpose of, or as a consequence of, decisions
or actions affecting the environment, except in emergencies or
due to a compelling purpose benefiting society as a whole and
not attainable by other means. All persons have the right to participate
effectively in decisions and to negotiate concerning their eviction
and the right, if evicted, to timely and adequate restitution,
compensation and/or appropriate and sufficient accommodation or
12. All persons have the right to timely assistance in the
event of natural or technological or other human-caused catastrophes.
13. Everyone has the right to benefit equitably from the conservation
and sustainable use of nature and natural resources for cultural,
ecological, educational, health, livelihood, recreational, spiritual
or other purposes. This Includes ecologically sound access to
Everyone has the right to preservation of unique sites, consistent
with the fundamental rights of persons or groups living in the
14. Indigenous peoples have the right to control their lands,
territories and natural resources and to maintain their traditional
way of life. This includes the right to security in the enjoyment
of their means of subsistence.
Indigenous peoples have the right to protection against any
action or course of conduct that may result in the destruction
or degradation of their territories, including land, air, water,
sea-ice, wildlife or other resources.
15. All persons have the right to information concerning the
environment. This includes information, howsoever compiled, on
actions and courses of conduct that may affect the environment
and information necessary to enable effective public participation
in environmental decision-making. The information shall be timely,
clear, understandable and available without undue financial burden
to the applicant.
16. All persons have the right to hold and express opinions
and to disseminate ideas and information regarding the environment.
17. All persons have the right to environmental and human rights
18. All persons have the right to active, free, and meaningful
participation in planning and decision-making activities and processes
that may have an impact on the environment and development. This
includes the right to a prior assessment of the environmental,
developmental and human rights consequences of proposed actions.
19. All persons have the right to associate freely and peacefully
with others for purposes of protecting the environment or the
rights of persons affected by environmental harm.
20. All persons have the right to effective remedies and redress
in administrative or judicial proceedings for environmental harm
or the threat of such harm.
21. All persons, individually and in association with others,
have a duty to protect and preserve the environment.
22. All States shall respect and ensure the right to a secure,
healthy and ecologically sound environment. Accordingly, they
shall adopt the administrative, legislative and other measures
necessary to effectively implement the rights in this Declaration.
These measures shall aim at the prevention of environmental
harm, at the provision of adequate remedies, and at the sustainable
use of natural resources and shall include, inter alia,
- collection and dissemination of information concerning the
- prior assessment and control, licensing, regulation or prohibition
of activities and substances potentially harmful to the environment;
- public participation in environmental decision-making;
- effective administrative and judicial remedies and redress
for environmental harm and the threat of such harm;
- monitoring, management and equitable sharing of natural resources;
- measures to reduce wasteful processes of production and patterns
- measures aimed at ensuring that transnational corporations,
wherever they operate, carry out their duties of environmental
protection, sustainable development and respect for human rights;
- measures aimed at ensuring that the international organizations
and agencies to which they belong observe the rights and duties
in this Declaration.
23. States and all other parties shall avoid using the environment
as a means of war or inflicting significant, long-term or widespread
harm on the environment, and shall respect international law providing
protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and
cooperate in its further development.
24. All international organizations and agencies shall observe
the rights and duties in this Declaration.
25. In implementing the rights and duties in this Declaration,
special attention shall be given to vulnerable persons and groups.
26. The rights in this Declaration may be subject only to restrictions
provided by law and which are necessary to protect public order,
health and the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
27. All persons are entitled to a social and international
order in which the rights in this Declaration can be fully realized.