March 2024

Human Rights Council urged to promote a ‘human rights economy’

HICC Programme Assistant Anna Aguto delivers statement at the 55th Session of the Human Rights Council.

Global economic system transformation is needed to ensure businesses operate within planetary boundaries to secure a sustainable environment and protect human rights.

This was a key message from the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) at the recent 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). QUNO delivered its statement on behalf of the Friends World Committee for Consultation which represents Quakers, Soka Gakkai International, the World Council of Churches and Anglican Communion.

The 55th session included an interactive dialogue with Professor David Boyd, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Environment and Human Rights. This dialogue centred on a report, “Business, planetary boundaries, and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment”.

The report highlighted the urgent need to transform current unsustainable and inequitable economic systems that prioritise profit over planet and people, and the essential role businesses and states must play in advancing human rights-based approaches. In showcasing the failures of the ‘free market’ to internalize the cost of businesses’ harm to the environment, the report emphasizes transformation and accountability. QUNO supports the report’s recommendations, which include embracing growing calls for alternative economic systems such as sufficiency and “[phasing] out fossils fuels in a fast, full, and fair way”.

QUNO’s statement warns: “The role of unsustainable and inequitable economic systems remains the elephant in the room. In our avoidance, we feed a dangerous reliance on false solutions and ‘techno-fixes’, like large-scale carbon dioxide removal, that fail to healthily transform the root causes driving planetary crisis and instead, pose threats to human rights, Indigenous peoples’ rights, water, food, and biodiversity security.”

The report and full written statement are available for download. A link to QUNO’s statement delivery is available. QUNO’s statement begins in the video at 2h:26m.

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