Rio Declaration Legally Binding

The Rio Declaration, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, is widely known as the Earth Summit. The Rio de Janeiro Conference was a follow-up United Nations conference on the human environment held in Stockholm in 1972. The Earth Summit was an important global event. It was the largest gathering of world leaders in history. The aim was to reconcile environmental protection and economic development. The Summit approved and opened for signature several legally binding agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The conference also established the Commission on Sustainable Development. In 1968/69, the General Assembly, by its resolutions 2398 (XXIII) and 2581 (XXIV), decided to convene a world conference in Stockholm in 1972, the main purpose of which was “to serve as a practical tool and guidelines . to protect, improve, remedy and prevent the human environment” (General Assembly resolution 2581 (XXVI)). One of the main objectives of the conference was therefore a declaration on the human environment, a “document of fundamental principles”, the basic idea of which was based on a proposal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that the conference should elaborate a “Universal Declaration on the Protection and Preservation of the Human Environment”. Work on the Declaration began in 1971 by the Preparatory Committee for the Conference, with the actual preparation of the text entrusted to an intergovernmental working group.

Although it was generally agreed that the Declaration would not be formulated in legally binding language, progress on the Declaration had been slow because of differences of opinion among States on the degree of specificity of the principles and guidelines of the Declaration and on whether the Declaration would “recognize the fundamental need of the individual for a satisfactory environment” (A/CONF.48/C.9). or whether and how it would enumerate general principles setting out the rights and obligations of States in environmental matters. In January 1972, however, the Working Group succeeded in preparing a draft declaration, which it considered to be the subject of further work. However, the Preparatory Committee refused to upset the “delicate balance” of the compromise text, refrained from any substantive consideration and sent the Conference a draft declaration consisting of a preamble and 23 principles, on the understanding that delegations in Stockholm would be free to reopen the text. The phrase “common but distinct responsibilities” appears in the second sentence of Rio Principle 7, which states: “Given the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but different responsibilities.” The United States interprets references to common but distinct responsibilities in the Plan of Implementation in this way. During the conference, the Chairman of the Main Committee stated that the Contact Group had the “collective agreement” on means of implementation, that paragraph 49 of the Plan of Implementation on corporate responsibility and accountability referred to existing intergovernmental agreements and international initiatives, and that this interpretation should be reflected in the final report of the Conference. The United States agrees with this statement and notes that this interpretation is essential to the proper understanding and application of paragraph 49. The United States, while supporting the consensus on the Plan of Implementation, reserves its position on paragraph 44 (o). This paragraph provides for the negotiation “within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking into account the Bonn Guidelines, of an international regime to promote and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources”. During the final negotiations on this paragraph, at the request of many delegations, the words “legally binding” were deleted from the word “regime”. Given the history of these negotiations, the United States considers that the obligation in this paragraph would not imply the development of a legally binding instrument.

The United States also sees this paragraph as an invitation to States to explore non-binding instruments to better implement the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Bonn Guidelines, the latter having been adopted in April of this year. The United States believes that all initiatives in this area must ensure unrestricted access to genetic resources and respect the rights and obligations of international law. The United States understands that no language in the Plan of Implementation, including references to health, “sexual and reproductive health,” “essential health services” and “health services,” or references to rights or freedoms, can be interpreted in any way to include or promote abortion or the use of abortifacients. Similarly, the United States does not consider any reference in the document to United Nations conferences or summits, including the World Summit for Children, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Summit for Social Development, and the Fourth World Conference on Women. and their follow-up, such as approving or encouraging abortion. However, the United States supports the treatment of injuries or illnesses caused by illegal or legal abortion, including, for example, compassionate follow-up. Official development assistanceThe United States reiterates its disacceptance of international assistance targets based on percentages of donors` gross national product. The United States believes that assistance should be increased to developing countries that have demonstrated a commitment to equitable governance, investment in their own people, and the promotion of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship. The United States emphasizes the importance of the Plan of Implementation and the Johannesburg Declaration, noting that these documents, like other such declarations and related documents, contain important policy objectives and coordinated action plans, but do not create legally binding obligations under international law for States. The fourth and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee was held from 6 to 10 March 1972. The Preparatory Committee agreed on a draft preamble and principles for a declaration on the human environment submitted by an intergovernmental working group (A/CONF.48/PC/16) and further decided to submit the draft declaration to the Conference for its consideration (A/CONF.48/PC/17). Perhaps the most important provision common to both declarations concerns the prevention of environmental damage.

Part II of Stockholm Principle 21 and Rio Principle 2 establishes the responsibility of a State to ensure that activities carried out in the course of its activity or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or to areas beyond national jurisdiction or control. This obligation is counterbalanced by the fact that the declarations in Part I of the respective principles recognize the sovereign right of a State to “exploit” its natural resources in accordance with its “environmental” (Stockholm) and “environment and development” (Rio) policies.