Liberté Égalité Fraternité pour l'Environnement is fast becoming the global cry of environmental activism emanating from France. Led by newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron, France is gleefully wresting the world’s mantle of environmental leadership away from the US. Last May, President Macron employed social media to offer a safe haven invitation for US climate scientists after the Trump Administration abruptly quit the Paris Climate Change Accords.
In June President Macron raised the bar by hosting a summit of world leaders including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to propose an ambitious draft “Global Pact for the Environment.”
This legal Pact for the Environment will serve as a basis for a new UN treaty to define fundamental environmental rights for humanity. The goal is to create an umbrella covenant structure for protection of environmental rights within the UN legal framework. Such covenants exist for social, economic and cultural rights of humanity and can be applied within legal proceedings in UN member nation states as is the case with the UN Human Rights Accords.
“There are over 500 international treaties dealing with the environment, with varying degrees of enforcement. This proposal to the UN will bring greater coherence to international environment laws, and set out clear obligations for nations and individuals to protect the environment,” says Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Environmental Law.
This new legal Pact synthesizes fundamental and common principles of environmental law, including the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the 1982 World Charter for Nature, and the 1992 Rio Declaration. It sets out principles which compel UN member nations and other legal persons to protect the environment, promote sustainable development and intergenerational equity, and ensure the right of access to information and environmental justice.
The draft treaty will be presented to the UN General Assembly by President Macron this September and enter a period of consultation and refinement. Should the treaty be adopted at the United Nations, it will be the first time environmental rights will have comprehensive legal standing such as human rights at national and international levels. Vive l'environnement!