Washington International Law Journal


John H. Knox


In recent years, international human rights tribunals and other bodies have identified ways that environmental harm can interfere with the enjoyment of human rights, and have clarified that States have obligations to protect human rights against such interference. For example, States have duties to provide access to environmental information, to protect rights of free expression and association in relation to environmental issues, and to provide for participation in environmental decision-making. This article examines how well the draft Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) proposed by the United Nations Open Working Group reflect the human rights obligations relating to environmental protection. It concludes that the proposed SDGs include goals that would promote those obligations, but that the specific targets are often written in language that is neither concrete nor closely linked to existing human rights obligations.

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