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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/7/09

Universal Environmental Rights

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Message Diane Perlman

Whereas in 2009, recognition the world has changed dramatically in ways not imagined, such that catastrophic climate change threatens the very rights declared in 1948, we recognize that human rights now depend on protecting our environment for the welfare of all living now and in the future, and that freedom to live in harmony with our environment is the basis for all other human rights, necessary to enjoy life, health, freedom, justice and peace.

Whereas it is essential, if humans not to be compelled to suffer effects of melting ice, rising sea levels, disappearing islands, coastlines and living space, intense storms, fires, droughts, and starvation, creating mental health problems, civil wars, and hundreds of millions of environmental refugees, that environmental "rights should be protected by the rule of law,"

Whereas it is essential to promote the pledge not just to protect, but to reverse and transform deeply ingrained destructive habits, patterns, systems, and infrastructures, to husband natural resources, and to replenish life support systems on Earth and the development of cooperation between nations,

Whereas we all live in a web of life - in habitats and climates designed to support life for humans, animals, and plants, and we can only develop fully as individuals, communities, and global citizens when we are nourished by our environment, and that the dignity, worth and rights of the person and the promotion of social progress and freedom now require affirmation of the worth of our natural environment,

Now, Therefore, we propose, as a matter of great urgency, amendments to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a critical basis for all rights and freedoms, that every person and nation is asked to support the understanding and respect for our environment and to take steps to make sure that the protection of all ecosystems and species biodiversity everywhere is recognized for all people, and all animals, plants, habitats and climates that we depend on to enjoy life.

We request Member States to pledge themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for environmental rights, by "teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."

Article 1

All beings alive today are born with rights to a clean, safe, sustainable environment, and a right to live without fear of catastrophic changes that threaten life, health and home. These are part of our Universal Human Rights to have our basic needs met.

Article 2

Future generations are entitled to the same rights as those now living. Protecting natural systems and species today is inseparable from the universal rights of future inhabitants of this planet.

Article 3

All beings have the right to breathe clean air, free from harmful pollution. No one has a right to produce harmful, toxic emissions into the air that others breathe, and on which we depend. All should work to transform industrial infrastructures and practices to reduce all kinds of pollution.

Article 4

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Visiting Scholar Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution George Mason University

Diane Perlman is a clinical and political psychologist, devoted to applying knowledge from psychology, conflict studies and social sciences to designing strategies and policies to reverse nuclear proliferation, to drastically reduce (more...)

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