But one right is missing: Article 31 - our right to a healthy, natural environment

The Birdlife Partnership calls on the United Nations to amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Birdlife Partnership calls on the United Nations to amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the first time in over 70 years to add a new human right: the right to a healthy natural environment.

Sign the petition now


From the ashes of the Second World War, one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history, rose one of humankind’s greatest accomplishments: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Forged by experts from various cultures and backgrounds, and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, this sacred document maps out, in its 30 articles, the fundamental human rights that must be protected.

These rights protect us from slavery and torture, and empower us to enjoy freedom of movement and thought. They have stood the test of time, and after 70 years, remain as relevant as ever.

But one right is missing: Article 31 – our right to a healthy, natural environment, and this is a critical gap. In the 70 years since the UDHR was formed, our society has wreaked havoc on the natural world. From the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to the earth in which we grow much of our food, our environment impacts our health in many ways.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be linked to illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of natural habitats – human activities which dramatically increase the risk of new diseases emerging. The science is clear: human health and the environment are closely linked, and we can already see how our lack of care for the planet infringes other established universal human rights, such as the right to life, liberty and security.

In our letter to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, BirdLife calls on the UN to:

  • Include the right to a healthy natural environment – potentially an Article 31 – on the Agenda of the UN General Assembly and the UN Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020
  • Include the right to a healthy natural environment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Achieve this by December 2023 to mark the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration by the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations must show leadership by recognising a healthy natural environment as a human right as part of their response to the coronavirus crisis. We know adding a new human right is a sacred act. Our planet is equally sacred. There has perhaps never been a more important moment to enshrine a human right that would oblige us to respect it, for the benefit of all.

We appreciate your interest in securing this essential right for humankind. We hope that you, as an individual, as another NGO, environmental or otherwise, a company or a governmental agency, are ready to join us and mobilize the planet’s citizens, across all continents, seas and oceans, to back such a vital call. We welcome the opportunity to share your institution’s support on this website.


Read our full letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres:


Sign our petition to make a healthy environment a universal human right


We invite organisations from around the world to join us.


BirdLife Partners supporting this campaign:


Argentina – Aves Argentinas

Australia – BirdLife Australia

Austria – BirdLife Austria

Bahamas – Bahamas National Trust

Belarus – BirdLife Belarus

Belgium – Natuurpunt

Belize – Belize Audubon Society

Bhutan – Royal Society for the Protection of Nature

Bolivia – Associacion Armonia

Botswana – BirdLife Botswana

Brazil – SAVE Brazil

Bulgaria – Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds

Burkina Faso – NATURAMA

Canada – Birds Canada

Canada – Nature Canada

Chile – Comité Nacional Pro Defensa de la Flora y Fauna

China (Hong Kong) – Hong Kong Birdwatching Society

Chinese Taiwan – Chinese Wild Bird Federation

Colombia – Asociación Calidris

Cook Islands – Te Ipukarea Society

Croatia – Association BIOM

Cyprus – BirdLife Cyprus

Czechia – Czech Society for Ornithology

Denmark – Sansk Ornitologisk Forening

Djibouti – Djibouti Nature

Dominican Republic – Grupo Jaragua




Ecuador – Aves y Conservación

Egypt – Nature Conservation Egypt

El Salvador – SalvaNATURA

Ethiopa – Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society

Faroe Islands – Faroese Ornithological Society

Fiji – NatureFiji-MareqetiViti

France – Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux

French Polynesia – Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie

Georgia – Society for Nature Conservation

Germany – Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union

Ghana – Ghana Wildlife Society

Greece – Hellenic Ornitholgical Society

Hungary – Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület

India – Bombay Natural History Society

Indonesia – Burung Indonesia

Iraq – Nature Iraq

Ireland – BirdWatch Ireland

Italy – Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli

Japan – World Bird Society of Japan

Jordan – Jordan Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature

Kazakhstan – Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan

Kuwait – Environment Protection Society





Latvia – Latvian Ornithological Society

Lebanon – Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon

Liechtenstein – Botanisch-Zoologische Gesellschaft

Luxembourg – natur&ëmwelt

Madagascar – Asity Madagascar

Malawi – Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi

Malaysia – Malaysian Nature Society

Mauritius – The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Mexico – Pronatura

Montenegro – Center for Protection and Research of birds of Montenegro

Morocco– GREPOM

Myanmar – Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association

Nepal – Bird Conservation Nepal

Netherlands – Society for the Protection of Birds

New Caledonia (to France) – Société Calédonienne d’Ornithologie

New Zealand – Forest & Bird

Nigeria – Nigerian Conservation Foundation

North Macedonia – Macedonian Ecological Society

Palau – Palau Conservation Society

Panama – Panama Audubon Society

Paraguay – Guyra

Philippines – Haribon Foundation

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