2023 UN Human Rights Prize awarded to civil society and Indigenous Peoples Global Coalition for the right to a healthy environment!

Today, the United Nations announced that the Global Coalition of Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and Local Communities for the Universal Recognition of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment will be one of the recipients of the prestigious award bestowed every five years to celebrate the outstanding contribution to select individuals and human rights organizations.

“At a time when billions of people are already suffering the devastating and life-threatening impacts of the triple planetary crisis — namely, climate change; biodiversity and ecosystem destruction; and waste and pollution — this prize is a well-deserved recognition of the massive mobilization and great collective efforts of big and small civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations, locally and globally. It also serves to show decision-makers internationally that we fought for a vital and just cause, one that can no longer be ignored or minimized,“ says Sandra Epal-Ratjen, ICJ’s UN Representative and Senior Legal Adviser and Coalition member.

The International Commission of Jurists is one of more than 1350 signatories of the Global Call, launched in 2020, to urge States to recognize the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right.

The massive mobilization of big and small civil society organizations, Indigenous Peoples and social movements in support of the Global Call and advocacy at the local, national and international levels eventually led to the adoption of two ground-breaking UN resolutions, one by the Human Rights Council in October 2021 and one in July 2022 by the General Assembly, both of which recognized the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right.

The award ceremony will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 10 December 2023, which also marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“I could not think of a better way to mark this anniversary and to reaffirm the relevance of the Declaration’s vision and values 75 years after its adoption than through celebrating the work of environmental human rights defenders. Human rights are instrumental to environmental and climate justice that is an existential issue of our times”, concludes Sandra Epal-Ratjen.

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