An official website of the United States government

EOP on item 3: Resolution Entitled “Human Rights and the Environment.”
March 26, 2015

Item 3:  Resolution Entitled “Human Rights and the Environment.” A/HRC/28/L.19

Explanation of Position by the Delegation of the United States of America

Human Rights Council 28th Session

Geneva, March 26, 2015

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States continues to agree with other members of the Council that protection of the environment and its contribution to sustainable development, human well-being, and the enjoyment of human rights are vitally important.  In this spirit, we join consensus on this resolution.

At the same time, we remain concerned about the general approach of placing environmental concerns in a human rights context and about addressing them in fora that do not have the necessary expertise.  For related reasons, while we recognize the efforts of the Independent Expert, soon to be renamed Special Rapporteur, and UN bodies in this area, we do not agree with a number of aspects of their work.

We also note our long-standing interpretation of Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration, to the effect that the principle does not imply any diminution in the environmental responsibilities of developing countries.  We interpret this resolution’s references to the obligations of states as applicable only to the extent the State has assumed such obligations by becoming party to various human rights instruments.  In joining consensus on this resolution the United States does not recognize any change in the current state of conventional or customary international law.  Furthermore, we reiterate that states are responsible for implementing their human rights obligations.  This is true of all obligations that a state has assumed, regardless of external factors, including the availability of technical and other assistance.

Finally, we are concerned about the high costs this resolution incurs, especially the expert seminar called for in operative paragraph 8.  Accordingly, we request OHCHR to minimize additional costs by absorbing them as much as possible into existing funds.

Thank you, Mr. President.