Publication of the Committee on the Rights of the Child's general comment n°26 on children’s rights and the environmentReading time : 2 minutes
On 28 August 2023, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) published its general comment n°26 on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change.
The CRC is a United Nations treaty-based body that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties and also publishes general comments, on thematic issues, that reflect its interpretation of provisions contained in this Convention.
2/ Content of General comment n°26
In its general comment n°26 on children’s rights and the environment, the Committee recognizes that “as rights holders, children are entitled to protection from infringements of their rights stemming from environmental harm and to be recognized and fully respected as environmental actors“.
In essence, this comment “emphasizes the urgent need to address the adverse effects of environmental degradation, with a special focus on climate change, on the enjoyment of children’s rights, and clarifies the obligations of States to address environmental harm and climate change”.
Most importantly, the Committee confirms that children have a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This recognition constitutes an important victory for the protection of this right and the environment. Not only does it support the earlier recognition of the right to a healthy environment by the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council, it also showcases a growing consensus on the matter at the United Nations level.
This general comment also highlights that “States are responsible not only for protecting children’s rights from immediate harm, but also for foreseeable violations of their rights in the future” and that they can be “held accountable not only for environmental harm occurring within their borders, but also for the harmful impacts of environmental damage and climate change beyond their borders“.
The text also highlights that “States should ensure that the present general comment is widely disseminated to all relevant stakeholders, in particular children“.