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This article is written by Parmeet Singh from Amity Law School, Delhi. The article analyses the Stockholm Declaration which was the first conference hosted by the United Nations on the Global Environmental Issues.


The United Nations hosted the very first conference on the Human Environment which was held in 1972 in Stockholm (Sweden), and officially it is known as the Stockholm Declaration of 1972. The conference was held for a basic common outlook on how to address the challenge of conserving and enhancing the human environment. 

In 1968-1969, by resolutions 2398 and 2581, the general assembly decided to conduct the conference in Stockholm in 1972 on a global level where all countries could take part in. The main principle of the Stockholm declaration was “to serve as a practical means to encourage and to provide guidelines to protect and improve the human environment and to remedy and prevent its impairment”. The conference’s preparatory committee had worked on the declaration in 1971 with the actual drafting of the text allocated to an intergovernmental working group. At the request of China, the special working committee reviewed the text and reduced it to 21 principles and brought up 4 new principles. Brazil objected for the same, then the working committee was removed for reviewing the text and the work was referred to the general assembly for further consideration, a draft principle on “Prior Information”.

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Stockholm conference

The Stockholm Conference was the first conference conducted by the United Nations Conference on Human Environment that focused on Environmental Issues at the International level. This conference was organised in Stockholm (Sweden) from 5th to 16th June 1972 and it was the very first conference which communicated the Environmental Issues at the International level and tried to find a way to tackle the air, land and water pollution by working together as a unit to safeguard the human environment for a better tomorrow. The Stockholm Conference also led the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in December 1972 to coordinate the global efforts to safeguard our natural human environment.

The proposal of the Stockholm Conference was made in 1968 in Sweden and contended that the United Nation must hold an International conference to examine environmental issues that required International cooperation to solve the problems related to environmental pollution. The Stockholm Conference was attended by 114 government delegations. At the time of the Stockholm Declaration, 26 principles were broadly declared to recognize the human impact on the environment, and that was for the first time in history that the environmental issues had been recognised publicly on a global scale. The conference came up with several frameworks for environmental actions, an action plan containing 109 recommendations related to human settlements, development, natural resource management, educational and social aspects of the environment, pollution and International organizations.

Stockholm declaration

The Stockholm Declaration of 1972 broadly recognizes global issues and has eventually come up with 26 principles and with some frameworks as well to bind all the countries together to deal with these environmental issues. The conference has created history in the world by addressing environmental issues at the global level. The Stockholm Declaration accentuated the needs of the nations to design development plans with the combination of science and technology in order to lessen air, land and water pollution and human impact on the environment. The main purpose of the Stockholm Declaration was to save the world from all the evils that were destroying the environment, to preserve natural resources, to control the pollution and to protect from several other environmental issues. In other words, we could say that the main purpose was to save the earth, there even is a slogan of the Stockholm Declaration, 1972 i.e., “Only One Earth”. 

The Declaration urges every country to create regulations for protecting wildlife and natural resources that are available in that country and suggests that every country create national population policies since overpopulation is also one of the major causes why we are left with limited natural resources today.

Important Provisions

The Stockholm Declaration, 1972 comprises the proclamation of 26 principles and several other submissions of recommendations. Every principle which is laid down in the Stockholm declaration is an important provision of the declaration. These 26 principles are as follows:

Principle 1: Right to Protect Environment 

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which talks about Right to life includes Right to a healthy environment as well, It is the human right of a man to live in a healthy environment and to protect the environment and the human can take any legal action against the one who is destroying the environment, as the right to a healthy environment is a fundamental right of a person. 

Principle 2: Management of Natural Resources 

The human must manage the natural resources available on earth and it applies to all the natural resources which include air, water, land and samples of the natural ecosystem so that the upcoming generations would also be able to enjoy the natural resources. But this requires accurate planning and management and this would happen only if we safeguard our natural resources today, only then we could achieve our goals and save the natural resources for future generation. 

Principle 3: Management of Renewable Resources 

In the war of saving our resources, the human community needs to come up as one unit to maintain the capacity of the earth to produce vital renewable resources.

Principle 4: Conservation of Wildlife 

The humans shall take it as a responsibility to safeguard and manage the heritage of wildlife and its habitat, which are now in danger because of the acts done by them. Everyone has to come up as one unit for working effectively to protect our nature including wildlife and must understand the importance of nature in planning for economic development.

Principle 5: Management of Non-Renewable Resources

As we all are aware of the fact that we are today left with very limited non-renewable resources, we must contribute in order to save our non-renewable resources which are available on earth and must employ them in a way to guard against the danger of their future exhaustion and must ensure their benefits are shared with the whole mankind. 

Principle 6: Pollution Control

The main causes of pollution are the gases, liquid substances, toxic substances or other substances which industries or mills discharge and such quantities of harmful substances pollute the environment in which we live. Every person should put their possible efforts and should protect the environment from pollution. Everyone has to struggle a bit to control the pollution on the earth so that everyone enjoys nature without pollution. 

Principle 7: Prevention of Pollution of Seas

The State government shall take some major actions to protect the seas from pollution, especially from the industries that are polluting the rivers by discharging hazardous chemicals in it and from the tourists who throw plastic in rivers and other substances that are hazardous to human health and to living resources as well. 

Principle 8: Economic and Social Development

Economic and Social development is essential for ensuring a comfortable living but the act done by humans shall not affect the environment. The working environment of men is necessary for the improvement of the quality of life but the act shall be in such a way that our environment does not suffer due to that and we would be able to live in a pollution-free environment. 

Principle 9: Underdevelopment and Natural Disaster 

Environmental deficiencies generated by the conditions of underdevelopment and natural disasters can best be remedied by investing in substantial amounts of financial and technological assistance.

Principle 10: Stability of Prices of Primary Commodities

The stability of prices and adequate earnings for primary commodities and raw materials are essential for environmental management in the developing countries.
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Principle 11: Environmental Policies

The government should introduce some environmental policies for controlling pollution and for the development of countries so that pollution does not affect the present and future generations. The State should adopt an integrated and coordinated approach to developing such plans. 

Principle 12: Environment Protection Education

Humans need to be educated about environmental protection to make them much aware about the issue. It is essential and it should be communicated to humans by conducting skits or through media or any other medium to make people aware of the environmental crisis so that people would work effectively to control the pollution by putting their efforts. 

Principle 13: Rational Management of Resources

It is essential for every State to adopt an integrated and coordinated approach for the development of the country and every plan must work in an effective way. The purpose behind is to achieve the rational management of resources. 

Principle 14: Rational Planning

Rational planning is an essential tool for confirming any clashes between the needs of development and the need to protect and improve the environment.

Principle 15: Human Settlement

The settlement of the human community must be planned and organised well for the purpose of avoiding the effects on the environment.

Principle 16: Human Population

The government has to introduce some policies for controlling the population and must work according to such policies, with the view for controlling the population on the earth as it is one of the major issues of the earth and we should work effectively to control it. Today most of the countries have a large population and increasing population growth has adverse effects on the environment. 

Principle 17: Setting of Environmental Pollution Control Agencies at National Level

For the purpose of saving the environment, the government must establish Environmental Pollution Agencies at national level and shall grant them the power to control the pollution at the national level. The agency must be established with proper planning and management to control the pollution and protect the resources. 

Principle 18: Use of Science and Technology

In this generation Science and technology have developed completely and it is suggested that the government should take some help of science and technology to control the pollution and save the environment for a better tomorrow. Science and technology must work in a manner to control environmental problems and must come up with new research and innovations.

Principle 19: Education in Environmental Matters 

The earth is suffering from pollution and it is essential to educate humans about environmental matters to make people aware of the issues of the environment, so that every individual, enterprise and community could put their joint efforts for protecting and improving the environment in its full human dimension. 

Principle 20: Further Scientific Research 

The government must promote new scientific research and innovations for the development in the context of environmental problems in all the countries, especially in the developing countries.

Principle 21: Rights and Responsibility of Sovereign Nation

It is the right of the Sovereign Nations to exploit their own resources in pursuit of their own environmental policies. The sovereign nations must look towards the activities of their nation and must take care that it would not affect the environment in their jurisdiction and shall not cause damage to the environment of other states or areas beyond the limits of their national jurisdiction. 

Principle 22: Development of International Law

It is important that every State should cooperate to develop International law regarding liability and compensation for the ones who are polluting our environment, as we all have to fight as one unit to protect our environment against the pollution. 

Principle 23: Implementation of Agenda by Every Country 

Without prejudice to such criteria as may be agreed upon by the international community, or to standards which will have to be determined nationally, it will be essential in all cases to consider the system of values prevailing in each country, and the context of the applicability of standards which are valid for the most advanced countries but which may be inappropriate and of unwarranted social cost for the developing countries. 

Principle 24: International Cooperation

Every country on the earth should contribute on an equal level towards the International law for protecting our environment and our natural resources. For the improvement of the environment it must be handled in a cooperative spirit by all the countries as a union. 

Principle 25: Coordinated and Dynamic Role 

The International organisations play an efficient and dynamic role for safeguarding and improving the environment and every state must ensure that to every human. 

Principle 26: Ban on Nuclear Weapons

No country should use the nuclear weapon against any country, nuclear weapons must be eliminated by every country. 


The Stockholm Declaration had created history in the world as it was the very first conference held by the United Nations on the subject of Environmental issues at the global level. The Declaration proclaims that the human are both the creature as well as the moulder of the environment and it gives them physical sustenance and affords the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. The purpose behind holding this Stockholm declaration was to emphasize various nations and to make the citizens of nations aware of the environmental issues which affect the well-being of people and economic development throughout the world. It is the responsibility of every nation and every person to come up with some necessary measures for management and planning in order to save our environment which is badly polluted today because of the acts we do in our daily routines which are harming our environment. To achieve such a goal of a pollution free environment, every citizen of every country must contribute towards it by putting their common efforts. Humans should know their responsibilities towards nature and must act accordingly.


Lastly, I want to conclude the article by saying that the Stockholm Declaration had created history in the world as it was the first conference which was hosted by the United Nations on environmental issues at the global level. The conference emphasizes various nations to come up with innovative plans in order to lower the air, water and land pollution. 114 other countries had also attended the conference. The declaration was made to achieve environmental goals, to live in a pollution-free environment, save the earth from every type of abuse against the environment and the slogan of the declaration was also “Only One Earth”.

The declaration proclaims that humans are both the creature and the moulder of the environment and we are only responsible for the situation we are suffering from today. Every individual should know their responsibilities and must perform some acts for the protection of the environment and earth for a better tomorrow. At the time of the conference, 26 principles were declared and the principles assert that the government has to take necessary steps to protect the nature or environment such as, for the Management of the natural resources- If we save natural resources today only then we could save them for the next generation also, Conservation of wildlife- Protecting forests for the animals, Controlling pollution- Closing industries that are discharging toxic chemicals in water and closing industries that are polluting the air in which we breathe, Environment protection education- Making people aware of the environmental issues by the medium of media or any other mediums, by these things the citizens would be much aware of the fact and shall contribute their best for the protection of the environment.

According to the research, most of the environmental problems in developing countries are caused by underdeveloped countries. The purpose of the declaration was to work together and fight together against environmental issues so that every country would contribute their common efforts and every country would come up with innovative plans with the help of science and technology and tackle this environmental issue as a whole. 


  • PDF on Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
  • PDF on The Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment by Locis B. Sohn.

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