Tag Archives: UNHRC

GNHRE Statement on the Withdrawal of the United States from UNHRC

Statement on the

Withdrawal of the United States

from the United Nations Human Rights Council

In a joint statement of Tuesday 19 June 2018, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the withdrawal of the United States from its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council, successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights, which was first chaired in January 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt, is the world’s pre-eminent forum for monitoring, investigating and reporting on the full range of universal human rights guaranteed in international and national law, including those related directly to the enjoyment of a safe and healthy environment.

The Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) — a broad-based network of concerned experts and scholars working for a better human and environmental future — expresses its deep concern and regret at the United States of America’s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council for the following reasons.

First, the UN Human Rights Council continues to provide an effective check on the power of Governments that may be perpetrating or tolerating human rights violations, and US withdrawal from the Council seems minimally to signal the current Administration’s diminishing commitment to the UN human rights system and to human rights more generally.

Second, while the Council is admittedly far from perfect, greater US engagement in improving its work and strengthening the global commitment to advancing human rights would have more effective, both symbolically and politically.

Third, US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council is particularly untimely and troubling because the Council has just taken strides towards recognition of the right to a healthy environment as a universal and fundamental human right within international law.

Fourth, the US withdrawal from the Council is part of a wider pattern of failure to engage with global partners on multiple forms of international progress in relation to human rights and environmental protections, including its previous announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, to take effect on 4 November 2020.

This latest withdrawal should be seen for what it is: a negative, retrograde step at a pivotally important moment for a world facing climate emergency, a rising tide of human rights violations and deepening levels of concern for all life on Earth.

Feature image of the HRC in session: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/Home.aspx


Human Rights and the Environment: Where Next? (A. Boyle)


Alan Boyle


environmental protection, international law, UNHRC, human rights law, procedural rights, mechanisms, extra-territorial application, transboundary pollution, global climate change


The relationship between human rights and environmental protection in international law is far from simple or straightforward. A new attempt to codify and develop international law on this subject was initiated by the UNHRC in 2011. What can it say that is new or that develops the existing corpus of human rights law? Three obvious possibilities are explored in this article. First, procedural rights are the most important environmental addition to human rights law since the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Any attempt to codify the law on human rights and the environment would necessarily have to take this development into account. Secondly, a declaration or protocol could be an appropriate mechanism for articulating in some form the still controversial notion of a right to a decent environment. Thirdly, the difficult issue of extra-territorial application of existing human rights treaties to transboundary pollution and global climate change remains unresolved. The article concludes that the response of human rights law – if it is to have one – needs to be in global terms, treating the global environment and climate as the common concern of humanity.


(2012) 23 The European Journal of International Law 613


Human Rights and the Environment: Where Next?