European Court of Human Rights

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Despite the fact that, since about 1999, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has repeatedly recommended that an amendment or an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights must be made to provide the right to a healthy environment, this recommendation has consistently been rejected by the Committee of Ministers, on the basis that “the Convention system already indirectly contributes to the protection of the environment through existing Convention rights and their interpretation in the evolving case law of the European Court of Human Rights”.[1]

The European Court of Human Rights has recognized that severe environmental degradation may affect the well-being of the individual and, consequently, give rise to violations of human rights, such as the rights to life, to respect for private and family life, and to property. While there have not so far been any specific climate change decisions, a search of HUDOC, the Court’s case-law database, shows that the Strasbourg organs have to date handed down more than 300 decisions and judgments in cases raising environment-related issues.[2]