Human Rights and the Environment in Scotland

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 (link) sets out ambitious targets to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 and aims to put Scotland at the forefront of building a sustainable low carbon global economy. The Commission believes that adopting an holistic human rights based approach to climate change and the environment will demonstrate further Scotland’s commitment to being an international model of best practice, as well as creating a robust framework that ensures compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights and international standards.


Lead article in the Scottish Human Rights Journal, August 2010: The Environment and Human Rights: Making the Connections    

Scottish Human Rights Commission publications: Human Rights and Climate Change: A Joint Communiqué, November 2009     

Relevant human rights instruments

Charter of the United Nations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and General Comments Nos. 4, 12 & 15 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Geneva Conventions and 1977 Additional Protocol I (during armed conflict)

Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

European Convention on Human Rights

(In Scotland) Scotland Act 1998 and Human Rights Act 1998

The Human Rights Council Resolution

The Human Rights Council closed its 18th regular session (September 2011) by including a resolution on human rights and climate change in which the Council reiterates its concern that climate change poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world, and has adverse implications for the full enjoyment of human rights. The Council requests that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: invites the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Environment Programme and the UN Development Programme to help organize the seminar informed by the best available science and including the assessment reports and special reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and to submit to the Human Rights Council, at its 20th session, a summary report on the seminar. See the resolution here:

Relevant environmental instruments 

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Convention on Biological Diversity

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development

The Stockholm Declaration

World Health Organisation: European Charter on Environment and Health

Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention)

Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment

Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009

2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 (A/RES/64/236). The Conference will take place in Brazil on 4 - 6 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. The Conference will result in a focused political document.

Useful Links

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Human rights and climate change

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Gateway to the UN System’s Work on Climate Change

Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice

Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative

International Council on Human Rights Policy: Climate change and human rights

Center for International Environmental Law



Act on CO2

Ten Personal Solutions to Global Warming

BBC Climate Change