IUCN recognizes that, without a peaceful, safe, and respectful setting where human lives are valued, and without livelihood security - i.e. security of tenure and access to lands, natural resources, and other basic assets, no conservation commitment can be expected from local people. This concept, which calls for full respect for human rights, is connected with the right to a decent quality of life and to other related rights recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Further, in conditions of political oppression and marginalization, as frequently occurs with indigenous peoples and local communities, their active participation in, and support to, the development and enforcement of environmental laws and policies becomes impossible. The more people live in security and have their rights respected, the more they will be willing to engage in biodiversity conservation and care for their lands and resources.
IUCN, as an organization of member governments who have adhered to the International Bill of Human Rights and other human rights instruments, and of civil society organizations who have championed the cause of human rights worldwide, is fully aware of its commitment to contribute to the full and universal respect of human rights in all their dimensions.
Further, the evolution of the international environmental doctrine in the last decade seems to point to the recognition that environmental issues are founded on, or intimately linked to, the environmental human rights, i.e. the rights of present and future generations to enjoy a healthy life in a healthy environment. Thus, also from this perspective human rights issues are increasingly at the core of the preoccupations of the environmental movement.
It is interesting to note that not less than sixty national constitutions in the world include concepts related to the protection of the environment articulated as a human right, or as a provision by which the state is required to protect the environment and citizens are entitled to demand compliance with it – therefore with a perspective of environmental justice. Practically every national constitution that has undergone reform since 1970 includes this concept, and it is reasonable to expect this pattern to continue and even to be strengthened. Given recent history, it is difficult to imagine any nation from this point forward reforming its constitution without explicitly recognizing the right of its inhabitants to a healthy environment, in one way or another.