Switzerland

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

In October 2021, at its 48th session, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution recognizing for the first time the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a separate human right. In addition, a number of regional human rights judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, have been dealing with environment-related cases, applying concepts such as the right to life, right to respect for private life or right to property, to a wide range of issues including pollution, man-made or natural disasters, access to environmental information and climate change. These recent developments illustrate the growing understanding that the protection of the environment and the protection of human rights are deeply interconnected.

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders. It will also address the synergies and tensions between international human rights law and international environmental law, and address the procedural dimension of environmental rights, with specific regard to access to justice and information. Furthermore, the training course will assess the use of environmental oversight mechanisms to support human rights claims and the currently growing wealth of climate change litigation before different regional and international bodies.

In Geneva and Online

This training course can be followed in Geneva or online.

Programme

The course will:

  • Explore the major international (both universal and regional) instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as their implementation and enforcement mechanisms
  • Provide full knowledge of UN human rights treaty bodies and their role in guaranteeing effective protection of human rights and environmental standards
  • Provide practical insight into the different mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council pertinent to further environmental issues and the protection of defenders
  • Explore the major international environmental principles and multilateral environmental agreements, with the relevant compliance mechanisms
  • Understand the synergies and tensions between international human rights law and international environmental law
  • Address the procedural dimension of environmental rights, with specific regard to access to justice and information
  • Identify particularly vulnerable categories of rights holders, such as indigenous people, women and migrants
  • Examine the role and responsibilities of businesses vis-à-vis the protection of human rights and the environment
  • Assess environmental litigation paths and procedural hurdles before human rights courts.

Objectives

Upon successful completion, the participants will have the knowledge and skills to:

  • Grasp the key norms, principles and enforcement mechanisms of international human rights law and environmental law
  • Understand how to resort to UN treaty bodies for human rights and environmental concerns
  • Understand how to engage with the UN Human Rights Council mechanisms on environmental issues and the situation of defenders
  • Assess the legal and policy issues relating to human rights norms that may be employed to protect the environment
  • Identify and analyze how basic international and regional human rights systems can be used to provide a measure of environmental protection
  • Apply human rights norms to an array of contemporary international and domestic environmental problems
  • Assess the litigation options for environment-related human rights cases, as well as the role of amici curiae.

Methodology

The training course will be interactive and participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences and perspectives on the issues covered. The training sessions will include lectures and discussions with a wide range of experts as well as practical examples and case studies. Sessions will be designed to enhance substantive and practical knowledge exchange with peers and facilitators.

Audience

This training course is designed for staff of NGOs, development and human rights institutions, UN bodies and other international organizations, as well as representatives of governments and members of academia.

Certification

Participants who successfully complete the training course receive a certificate of participation from the Geneva Academy.

Fee information

Attendance in Geneva

The training fee for this five-day programme is 1,530 Swiss Francs and includes tuition costs, course materials, 5 lunches, and refreshments during coffee breaks.

All participants are responsible for their own travel costs to Geneva, including Swiss visa fees and evening meals (approximately 30 Swiss Francs per meal).
Discount for Online Attendance*

The training fee for those attending the course online is 1,250 Swiss Francs.
Discount for PhD and Master Students*

There is a 30 percent discount for PhD and master students.
Payment

The fee is payable as soon as your place has been confirmed. As places on the training course are limited, participation can only be secured through the payment of the fee. In case of cancellation by the participant, CHF 200 won't be returned.

How to register

Applications must be submitted via the online application form.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us: hrsandenvironment[at]geneva-academy.ch