For more information about CIEL's Human Rights & Environment Program, contact Marcos Orellana.

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About the Human Rights & Environment Program

CIEL’s Human Rights and Environment (HRE) Program aims to reinforce the existence of the linkage between human rights and environmental protection and establish a robust and effective substantive content of that linkage.

A related objective is to strengthen human rights law as a whole by elaborating its environmental dimensions. This includes:

  • Achieving recognition of new rights, such as the right to a safe and sustaining environment
  • Identifying and elaborating particular connections between human rights and environmental issues; and
  • Strengthening the tools and institutions for accountability, including the HRE jurisprudence of international human rights tribunals and monitoring bodies.

More broadly, CIEL seeks to ensure that all international dispute mechanisms involving human rights and environmental issues respect the right to access to information, an effort that inevitably involves protecting this right in disputes regarding other issues. CIEL also aims to utilize human rights law to ensure environmental protection and respect for communities.

Finally, at the institutional level, we include human rights considerations in all our program areas, to ensure that the rights of individuals and communities, particularly those dependent on natural resources or affected by environmental degradation, are respected and that their voices are heard and their views respected.

Program Goals

The Human Rights and environment Program has the following goals.

  • To reduce specific human rights and environmental abuses on the ground.
  • To strengthen the human rights and environment movement though
    • Training
    • Skill sharing
    • Developing HRE advocacy guidelines
    • Building strategic strategic alliances.
  • To build the conceptual framework for using human rights in protecting the environment. This includes:
    • Furthering the develpment of substantive human rights and sustainable development norms,
    • and to strengthen the procedural and institutional framework for promoting HRE.


To meet these goals, we utilize the following strategies:

  • Bring human rights and environment cases to regional human rights courts and provide legal and technical supports for human rights and environment advocates in cases that have high potential for both helping local communities and developing the law in this area.

    We particularly focus on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, but we engage other forums as well.

  • Develop and test new mechanisms for highlighting and addressing the human rights and environment linkage.

    CIEL has been a leader in strengthening the human rights and environment policy framework at international economic institutions, such as the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions.

    The World Trade Organization and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes are other forums in which we have worked to strengthen the human rights and environment linkage in relation to economic activities.

  • Develop and strengthen legal capacities for promoting environmental justice, especially in the Global South and in international law, including support for effective human rights and environment institutions and advocates at local community levels.

  • Provide urgent response to important human rights and environment cases that arise. CIEL is frequently approached by NGOs from around the world that need our legal and policy expertise on human rights and environment issues.


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Latest Human Rights & Environment Program News

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CIEL (UNITED STATES) | 1350 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, NW SUITE #1100 | WASHINGTON, DC 20036| PHONE: (202) 785-8700 FAX: (202) 785-8701 | E-MAIL:
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