The GNHRE is happy to announce the launch of the online version of the Strasbourg Principles of International Environmental Human Rights Law, now including authoritative comments by world experts in environmental human rights law!
“The Strasbourg Principles represent a brilliant constellation of legal principles that could, and should, be used to guide our efforts towards a just and sustainable future.”– David R. Boyd
“The Strasbourg Principles provide judges and legal professionals with a robust analysis on the main points of discussion in European and International litigation of environmental matters … It is a unique document which builds the foundation of a new “edifice”.”– Françoise Tulkens
“The Strasbourg Principles are indispensable for future-proofing human rights law in light of the multiple environmental challenges upon us. Every judge, in fact every member of the relevant legal community, should know them.”– Christina Voigt
“The Strasbourg Principles have adopted an individual and systemic protection approach that is a powerful tool in times when environmental collapse must be prevented.”– Ricardo Lorenzetti
“The Strasbourg Principles provide a cohesive framework that has evolved through years of jurisprudence, offering a consensus-based guide rooted in a human rights approach to tackle climate change challenges. These Principles can facilitate the harmonization of global imbalances, creating a more equitable distribution of responsibilities while upholding a commitment to justice that transcends geographical boundaries.– Ayesha Malik
The Strasbourg Principles are a uniform restatement of general principles that have emerged in international human rights law in the context of the environment. They are intended to be used by judges and other legal professionals engaged in international litigation of environmental matters. The Strasbourg Principles are a living instrument, meant to be progressively interpreted in the light of the rapidly developing jurisprudence of national and international courts, as well as international hard and soft law.
The Strasbourg Principles were drafted by a group of human rights and environmental law experts who were brought together through a conference held in 2020 at the European Court of Human Right in Strasbourg and by the Special Issue of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment entitled “Human Rights and the Planet”. As noted in this publication, the Strasbourg Principles respond to the pressing doctrinal and practical challenge brought to international human rights law by the severe adverse human rights consequences of environmental harm and by disasters caused by loss of biological diversity, depletion of natural resources, land system change and environmental pollution – including noise, air, water, soil, chemical and plastic pollution – as well as by climate change.
The principles are based on the premise that a healthy environment is both a human right and a duty. The latter must be fulfilled by urgent action on the part of all actors, including national courts and international human rights organs. The ensuing general principles are divided into ten categories, preceded by a restatement of several conclusions concerning the science about the causes and human rights effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
- The first group of principles concerns the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, which is an autonomous human right with both anthropocentric and ecocentric dimensions and which comprises substantive and procedural elements.
- The second group concerns the interpretation of the notion of a victim for the purposes of legal standing and representation in international environmental human rights litigation.
- The third group of principles comprehensively addresses the issue of harm. These principles explain the relationship between environmental and human rights harm, and propose parameters (including legal presumptions) for the legal assessment of the risk of harm and of the severity of harm.
- The principles in the fourth group address the burden of proof and, where appropriate, propose its reversal.
- The fifth group contains a single principle pursuant to which extraterritorial jurisdiction for transboundary environmental harm can be established where there is a cause-and-effect link between the activity under effective control of a State and the element of foreseeability of transboundary harm.
- The sixth group concerns the applicability of specific provisions of human rights treaties in the context of international environmental human rights litigation. The principles address, in particular, the right to access to a court for the purpose of judicial review of decisions concerning environmental matters.
- The seventh group contains a single comprehensive principle regarding the exhaustion of domestic remedies, a requirement that operates under the ECHR and, more generally, across international jurisdictions.
- The general principles in group eight are intended to guide the balancing of environmental interests with conflicting individual or general interests, such as those of the economic well-being of a country or of the protection of fundamental rights.
- Numerous principles in the ninth group define the human rights obligations of states that may arise in the context of environmental harm or risk of such harm.
- Finally, the tenth group, pertaining to the redress of environmental and human rights harm, proposes that preventive measures, ecological remediation and restoration should be the preferred and principal measures of redress ordered by courts.
The GNHRE is delighted to host the online version of the Strasbourg Principles on its website. All are welcome to endorse and comment on this project – you can submit your endorsement or commentary by sending an email to Strasbourg_Principles@gnhre.org. Click here to explore the text of the Strasbourg Principles as well as related endorsement and commentary featured throughout the text under authors’ photo icons.