Definition (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
In 1968, the notion of holding an international conference on the environment was brought to the fore by the United Nations Economic and Social Council at its forty-fifth session. A council resolution underscored the immediate need for intensified action at the national and the international levels to contain and, if possible, halt the continuous deterioration of the human environment. The U.N. General Assembly, at its twenty-third session, endorsed the council’s recommendations. As a result, the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment was convened on June 5-16, 1972, in Stockholm, Sweden. The importance of the Stockholm conference was threefold: It was the first global conference on the human environment; it was the predecessor of the first U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992; and it acknowledged the need to articulate “third generation human rights,” those that go beyond the merely civil and social. Such rights are legally difficult to enact, but the conference endorsed them in the Stockholm Declaration, which recognized a human right to a “healthy environment.”
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Summary of Provisions (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The framers of the Stockholm Declararios considered the need for a common outlook and shared principles for various international environmental issues, including human rights as proclaimed in the first article, “[b]oth aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights, the right to life itself.” The first Principle of the Declaration echoes this sentiment: Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.
Principle 8 focuses on economic and social development as being “essential for a favorable working environment …necessary for the improvement of the quality of life.” Principle 9 declares Environmental deficiencies generated by the conditions of underdevelopment and natural disasters …can best be remedied by accelerated development through the transfer of financial and technical assistance as a supplement to the …developing countries and such timely assistance as may be required.
The twenty-first of the Declaration Principles is the best known, and it is believed by many international legal scholars to be the foundation for much of the environmental diplomacy that has occurred since Stockholm because it...
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Significance for Climate Change (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
The first international conference of its kind, the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment focused attention on the need for global collaboration to decrease general and marine pollution, and created environmental monitoring networks both regional and global, providing the framework for future environmental collaboration that led to the establishment of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) for which Canadian Maurice F. Strong served as the first executive director. UNEP continues to coordinate U.N. environmental activities, helping developing countries implement environmentally sound policies by encouraging sustainable environmental practices. Importantly, the Stockholm Conference and the scientific conferences on the environment that it preceded significantly influenced the environmental policies of the European Community, later the European Union.
As an example, in 1973, the European Union established the Environmental and Consumer Protection Directorate and the first Environmental Action Program. The Stockholm Conference was the predecessor of the first U.N. Earth Summit, which specifically focused on the environment alongside development, and put forth the notion of sustainability as a necessary component of climate change. Importantly, UNCED produced the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a most significant treaty with a mission of stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a...
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Warming)
Bhatt, S. The UN Stockholm Declaration of 1972 on the Human Environment: A Global and Federal View of Environmental Protection. New Delhi: Hamdard University, 1999. Covers such topics as conservation of the environment, global environmental politics, and the need to educate the public on the environment.
Nordquist, M., J. N. Moore, and S. Mahmoudi, eds. The Stockholm Declaration and Law of the Marine Environment. Amsterdam: Martinus Nijhoff, 2003. Collection of essays commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration of 1972, including a presentation by Dr. Hans Blix, primary author of the Declaration.
Van Ginkel, H., B. Barrett, J. Court, and J. Velasquez. Challenges for the United Nations in the New Millennium. New York: New York University Press, 2002. Topics include congresses on human ecology, social problems, and the United Nations.
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