Integrate a healthy and clean environment as a fundamental right

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A clean and healthy environment – a fundamental right – little escapes by franzisko hauser / Flickr

The Association for Community and Dialogue welcomes a new United Nations Human Rights Council resolution which recognizes access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental right.

These resolutions are long overdue, due to various questions about what constitutes a clean and healthy environment. This might involve seeing things in a broader perspective that might challenge common notions and actions related to special interests.

The vote on the fundamental right to a clean environment received overwhelming support, despite upstream criticism from some countries, notably the United States and the United Kingdom.

One wonders what these criticisms were about, because these countries preached to others on climate change.

It is interesting to note that the small nations took the initiative for this resolution. The text of a resolution proposed by Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland was adopted with 43 votes in favor and four abstentions by Russia, India, China and Japan.

Obviously, some large countries that oppose, criticize, or abstain might be of the view that a clean and healthy environment as a basic human right could open up environmental perception to a larger variable of environmental justice.

For example, it would cover pollution caused by military expeditions such as the bombing of territory during a war or the sale of weapons to proxies in a geopolitical war that pollutes the environment. The people who live in these territories have every right to a clean and healthy environment.

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In addition to this, there are also economic factors: the big multinational oil companies of these nations pollute the environment of the poorest countries, with little responsibility.

Malaysia, for its part, should heed this resolution and enshrine the right to a healthy environment in the Constitution. We have yet to produce research reports on deaths caused by air pollution in the country.

If we really take the Sustainable Development Goals that were incorporated into Malaysia’s 12th Plan seriously, it is time for a broad bipartisan vote to incorporate the right to a clean and healthy environment into the Constitution.

This would guide and inspire the younger generation to pay more attention to environmental justice that serves the common good of all Malaysians. – New times of the straits

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