Human rights have been a concern of the international community since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In recent years it has been clear that human rights cannot be enjoyed without a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment that has been accepted as a fundamental human right towards the right to a healthy environment.
The economic, social, and cultural rights are growing at a fast speed whereby attention was eminent by the UN towards monitoring mechanisms in the protection of these rights and this demand culminated in the 2008 adoption of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provides for economic, social, and cultural rights, referred to as second-generation rights. The ICESCR provides, amongst others, the right to health which recognises the need for environmental improvement. In 1972 the international community through the UN Stockholm Conference brought environmental issues under the international agenda, where the right to a satisfactory environment was explicitly recognized for the first time. This Conference resulted in the Stockholm Declaration, which in Principle 1 links environmental protection to human rights norms.