Human Rights

ABA will receive United Nations Human Rights Prize for environmental advocacy

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The ABA and other members of a global coalition have received the 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize for their role in advocating for the U.N. General Assembly’s recognition of the right to a healthy environment in 2022.

Last year, members of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice helped promote Resolution 48/13—a measure adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council that for the first time recognizes having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right. After most of the U.N. council’s 47 member states passed the resolution, it went to the U.N. General Assembly for further consideration.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the resolution in July 2022.

“The American Bar Association is proud to stand alongside a global coalition of partners and share in the honor of the U.N. Human Rights Prize,” ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross said in a press release. “This acknowledgement highlights our shared dedication to environmental justice, the upholding of human dignity and the support of each person’s right to a clean and healthy environment.”

The U.N. Human Rights Prize is awarded once every five years, typically to five recipients at a time. This year, for the first time the prize was granted to a coalition—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.

As part of the coalition, the ABA’s other efforts to elevate the right to a healthy environment included the ABA president’s direct outreach to the White House Council for Environmental Quality and a coordinated campaign to gain support from the White House and U.S. Department of State; the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and Section of Environment, Energy and Resources’ work to garner support of the Environmental Justice Act; and the creation of an association-wide Environmental Justice Task Force to advance related causes.

The U.N. Human Rights Prize will be presented in New York on Dec. 10, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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