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July 20, 2023

American Bar Association part of coalition to receive U.N. Human Rights Prize

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2023 — The American Bar Association is part of a global coalition named the recipient of the 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize.

The Global Coalition of Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and Local Communities for the Universal Recognition of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment was awarded the prize for its essential role in advocating for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment by the U.N. General Assembly in 2022.

The award recognizes efforts that began decades ago and resulted in thousands of people from across the globe joining forces to achieve the recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. It highlights the importance of collaborating to advance the protection of our planet and fulfillment of human rights.

The prize is awarded once every five years, usually to five recipients at a time. This year, however, for the first time the prize was granted to a global coalition. It will be presented in New York on Dec. 10, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ABA efforts to elevate the U.N. Resolution for the Right to a Healthy Environment campaign included:

  • The ABA president’s direct outreach to the White House Council for Environmental Quality and a coordinated campaign to gain high-level support from the White House and Department of State.
  • The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Environmental Justice Committee also collaborated with the ABA Climate Change Subcommittee and the Section of Energy, Environment, and Resources to garner widespread support of the Environmental Justice Act. 
  • A webinar series with the Environmental Law Institute in an effort to raise awareness and participation.
  • The establishment of an Environmental Justice Task Force to further the cause.
  • The ABA Governmental Affairs Office devised a strategy for reaching out to members of Congress through a variety of channels, including congressional staff briefings, newsletters, publications and social media.

“The American Bar Association is proud to stand alongside a global coalition of partners and share in the honor of the U.N. Human Rights Prize,” said Deborah Enix-Ross, president of the ABA. “This acknowledgement highlights our shared dedication to environmental justice, the upholding of human dignity and the support of each person’s right to a clean and healthy environment.”

To view the U.N’s release click here.

Read the reactions from the members of the coalition here.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.