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Geneva Academy Training Course: The Protection of Human Rights and the Environment

27/02/2017 (All day) - 03/03/2017 (All day)


Can we promote environmental protection through existing human rights (HR) mechanisms? What protection does international law afford to ‘climate refugees’? What are the synergies and tensions between the legal protection of HR and the environment?

From the contamination of water bodies to the effects of climate change, the relationship between the protection of HR and environmental conservation is one of the most pressing issues in contemporary international law.

This training course provides participants with a deep understanding of the international legal framework for the protection of HR and the environment as well as in-depth knowledge of how to promote environmental protection through existing HR mechanisms.


The training course covers the following issues:

  • The main international HR and environmental law instruments and mechanisms
  • The nature of state obligations under the two legal regimes – international HR law and environmental law – as well as the entitlements and responsibilities of individuals, groups and other private actors
  • Rights to information and participation in environment-related decision-making and the right to remedy in the case of environmental nuisance
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • The rights of indigenous peoples and traditional local communities; the concept of environmental refugees; gender-related rights; the protection of the HR of environmental defenders
  • The HR dimension of environmental protection in land and water management, biodiversity, climate change and UNESCO nominated natural sites
  • The use of international HR mechanisms to litigate and advocate for environmental protection
  • Synergies and tensions in the promotion of HR and the protection of the environment
  • A visit to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council to attend the presentation of the annual report of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment


At the end of this course, participants will be:

  • Familiar with the major international legal instruments for the promotion of HR and the conservation of the environment (e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on Biological Diversity and Protocols, Aarhus Convention, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNESCO World Heritage Convention)
  • Knowledgeable about the different UN mechanisms mandated to protect and promote human rights and the conservation of the environment, and how the agendas of the specialized agencies intersect
  • Conversant with the role of civil society, national and international environmental and HR institutions, governments and non-state actors in relation to the protection of human rights and the environment
  • Able to identify and effectively describe synergies and tensions in the realization of HR and the protection of the environment, to re-think their advocacy plans and devise new strategies for making better use of the UN HR mechanisms


Lecturers include Geneva Academy experts, renowned academic scholars, as well as senior professionals from international organizations and NGOs. The training course includes a special session with John Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.


The course is interactive and participants are encouraged to share their own experiences and visions on the subject. The training sessions include lectures and expert panels, as well as practical examples and case studies. Sessions are designed to enhance knowledge exchange with peers and facilitators.


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


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


Applications must be submitted via the online application form.





Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, Geneva