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Do Children Have Rights Towards the Environment?

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

The child’s right to life, survival and development is significant and fundamental. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has identified it as one of the CRC’s four guiding principles. At the same time, the right to survival and development can only be implemented in a holistic manner, through the enforcement of all the other provisions of the Convention, including rights to health, adequate nutrition, social security, an adequate standard of living, a healthy and safe environment, education and play. 

Environmental damage adversely affects all, especially children's lives today and in the future. Failure to protect the natural environment also leads to violations of children's human rights which may threaten their rights to health, food, water, sanitation, education, culture and recreation. 

Environmental hazards have been recognised as the barriers towards the right to health and other rights through numerous reports of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The whole population is affected by environmental regulations. 

However, the Committee affirms that a greater level of protection and detailed protocols should be maintained in the decision-making process as it may have a major impact on children and their best interests should also be ensured. 

Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment, to lead a healthy life and develop positive future prospects. A healthy environment is a precondition for children’s physical and mental health.  

Water must be available to children in adequate quantities for their personal and domestic use. That generally covers water for drinking, washing and food preparation, along with water for personal and household hygiene.  

The realisation of children’s rights is primarily a domestic obligation, but at the same time states also have an international duty to give effect to children’s rights. 

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