Environmental obligations of States in reducing environmental hazards

Document Type : Applied Article


1 Professor, PhD of International Relations, Faculty of law and Political Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Master of International Law, Azad University, Central Tehran branch


The corona virus, scientifically named Covid 19, has become a threat to world health and human activities in 2020. Since the virus targets the right to life, it is important to review international legal solutions that address and reduce such risks. The most important human rights obligation of States is to guarantee the right to life, which is the highest human right, without which other rights would be meaningless, so it must be respected in all circumstances and even in emergencies.
The purpose of this study is to identify the obligations of States in reducing environmental hazards, and also to examine the relationship between corona and environmental hazards, as well as biosafety, in order to examine the fact that despite existing rules and regulations to protect the environment against the developed genetically recombinant organisms that are contagious to viruses, including the corona virus is one of the main objectives of this research
Research Method
The aim of this study is to increase understanding and knowledge in the field of international obligations of States in dealing with environmental hazards and in particular climate change and to present the results in order to promote international cooperation in implementing the principles of international environmental law, and it is practical. In this study, using library research to examine the interaction between climate change and corona as two mutual environmental hazards as well as quarantine and necessary closure of communities to prevent the risk of spreading the corona virus, and the commitments of governments in this regard are described and analyzed. Thus, the present article is divided into two parts. The first part includes the effects of climate change and corona and the second part includes the obligations and duties of governments in the system of international environmental law in relation to climate change and corona virus.
Occurrence of environmental hazards such as corona virus is one of the most serious threats to human life. The study results show that, as many infectious diseases such as AIDS, SARS and Ebola, which have been transmitted from animals to human beings, it is clear that the corona virus has been transmitted in the same way [20]. The corona virus pandemic is a prime example of the molecular interconnectedness of the universe, and because a transmissible virus mutates between wildlife and humans and is pathogenic, it is reminiscent of a butterfly effect. On the other hand, neglecting the warnings of scholars and not paying attention to climate change and ecosystems has led to the emergence and spread of diseases transmitted from wildlife to humans. Given the increasing trend of climate change and its effects on ecosystems, the prevalence of many known or unknown types of corona virus in the International Committee for the Classification of Viruses as well as similar corona diseases of animal origin is not unexpected. Studies show that the spread of coronavirus is increasing in more infected areas and cities [4]. Also, the coronavirus epidemic is a problem caused by governments' disregard for the environment and environmental commitments before it targets human health. The Stockholm Declaration of Principles includes the commitment of governments to use science and technology to identify, avoid and control environmental hazards and to address environmental issues in the public interest, which has been a biological problem since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Environment highlights this principle as a fundamental obligation for States [36]. Given recent findings and the fact that the corona virus is a living microorganism that exists in the bat body and in some ecosystems, it seems to have been defined in Article 2 of the Convention and in accordance with Article 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Ecosystems and the Preservation of this Microorganism and other similar living organisms in their original place are among the obligations of states. Also, under Article 3 of the Convention, States are committed to using their resources to ensure that activities carried out in the territory or in areas under their control do not cause damages to the environment of other countries or areas outside the territory [37].
To assess the crisis caused by the outbreak of coronavirus in the field of environment, various aspects of the issue should be considered, including environmental hazards and the interaction of these two phenomena with each other. Although with the corona outbreak, according to statistical data collected by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Global Carbon Project, the weather has temporarily improved during the Corona Pandemic, environmental quality, water quality, and noise pollution in quarantine due to reduced use of transportation, halting or reduction of industrial activities and electricity demand, emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have been significantly reduced. On the other hand, the emergence of the corona virus as one of the consequences of not paying attention to the environment and especially climate change, environmental protection in the post-corona period is a serious concern that should be imposed by enforcing international rules for States to ensure sustainable development and prevent environmental hazards and climate change, which can be implemented only through cooperation and solidarity between developed and developing States.


[1]. Frederick W. Lipfert and Ronald E. Wyzga, COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis Environment, MDPI.
[2]. Muhammad UsmanMudassir HusnainAimon RiazAreej Riaz & Yameen Ali, ,2021, Climate change during the COVID-19 outbreak: scoping future perspectives, Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
[3]. The convention on biological diversity, United nations, 1992.
[4]. United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, Sweden, June 5–16 in 1972.