Category Archives: Ethics

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions (Neil A. F. Popovic)

Author

Neil A.F. Popovic

Keywords

environmental justice, environmental rights, international human rights, state constitution, environmental racism, environmental degradation, poverty, social rights, environmental hazards, inequality, civil rights

Extract

I. Introduction

Notwithstanding the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law, environmental racism thrives in the United States. Its manifestations include toxic waste dumps on indigenous lands, hazardous industrial facilities in communities of color, lead paint in decrepit housing projects, and use of dangerous pesticides in industrial agriculture. Environmental racism feeds on and perpetuates the social, economic and political marginalization of low-income communities and communities of color. As such, environmental racism in the United States represents a serious blight on the country’s human rights record.

Discriminatory siting decisions for environmentally hazardous facilities and uneven enforcement decisions do not necessarily result from consciously racist policy choices. More likely, they issue from a political and social system that marginalizes the participation and concern of communities of color, often through ostensibly neutral criteria. The effect, however, is no less racist than overt discrimination.

The United States has a substantial body of both environmental and civil rights laws, but none of these laws addresses the link between racism and environmental quality. 2 At best, environmental laws can enhance protection of the environment while civil rights laws can facilitate the rectification of overt racial discrimination. Neither body of law, however, addresses the impact of environmental degradation on human communities, and neither deals specifically with environmental racism.

Citation

(1996) 15 Stanford Environmental Law Journal 338 pp. 344-47

Paper

Pursuing Environmental Justice with International Human Rights and State Constitutions

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Should or Must?: Nature of the Obligation of States to Use Trade Instruments for the Advancement of Environmental, Labour, and Other Human Rights (S. J. Powell)

Author

Stephen J. Powell

Keywords

human rights, ethical obligations, legal quality, power, global harm principle, international law, accountability, human rights violations, transnational corporations, U.S. Alien Tort Statute

Abstract

This article examines whether customs, treaties, and historical facts have caused the ethical human rights obligations of economically powerful states to assume a legal quality. The author argues that the legal quality of these obligations may arise from the global harm principle of international law and human rights obligations found in treaties. As a consequence, states may be held accountable for the human rights violations of transnational corporations. Further, the author examines the possibility of pursuing claims under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute for torts committed in violation of international treaties as another avenue for enforcing human rights obligations.

Citation

(2007) Alberta Law Review 45 (2) pp. 443-56

Paper

Should or Must?: Nature of the Obligation of States to Use Trade Instruments for the Advancement of Environmental, Labour, and Other Human Rights

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The Right to Know and the Duty to Disclose: Pathways to Effective Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification Within the Constitutionalism of Climate Justice (T. Thorp)

Author

Teresa Thorp

Keywords

Right to Information, Human Rights, Environmental Law, Equity, International Law

Abstract

The Article is in two parts. Part one examines the dynamic interactions between the right to information, human rights, and environmental law from an objective perspective. It situates monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) within a new architecture of human rights as “people’s rights.” Part two then delves into how international human rights and environmental law may inform a “subjective” test of equity by mobilizing the “right to information” in international climate law. In doing so, it shows how a new approach to international legal architecture, one based on “people’s rights,” may help to improve the effectiveness of MRV in terms of multi-nodal and multi-level governance.

Citation

(2012) 30 Pace Environmental Law Review 140

Paper

The Right to Know and the Duty to Disclose: Pathways to Effective Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification Within the Constitutionalism of Climate Justice

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From Environmental to Ecological Human Rights: A New Dynamic in International Law (P.E. Taylor)

Author

Prudence E. Taylor

Keywords

International Law, Environmental Law, Ethics, Ecological Rights

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

One of the most interesting developments in international environmental law in recent years has been the attempt to create links between the ethics debate and law reform. These attempts began with the recognition that philosophical discussions concerning the relationship between humanity and nature, and the moral worth of nature, were not only relevant to understanding the limitations inherent within current law, they were also fundamental to creating new legal obligations. As a consequence the language of philosophers began to emerge in the context of legal discourse. Phrases such as the “intrinsic value” of nature, “respect for nature,” “responsibility for nature,” and “future generational equity” have often found a place in dialogue and writings concerning traditional and new environmental legal obligations. At the municipal level this trend can be traced back to the late 1970s, while developments at the international level occurred more slowly. Nevertheless, by 1991 one of the first texts on international environmental law acknowledged that “ethical and philosophical concepts are crucial in understanding the actual nature of environmental law and the challenge it poses to international law.” 1

The task of this article is to consider a link between environmental ethics and human rights law in the form of “ecological rights.” The phrase “ecological rights” is used here to describe human rights which are subject to certain limitations. These limitations recognize that individual freedoms are exercised in an ecological context, in addition to a social context. In comparison, “environmental rights” …

Citation

(1998) 10 Georgetown Environmental Law Review 309

Paper

From Environmental to Ecological Human Rights: A New Dynamic in International Law

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Human Rights, Climate Change and The Trillionth Ton (H. Shue)

Author

Henry Shue

Keywords

Right to Life, Right to Health, Right to Subsistence, Framework Convention of Climate Change

Excerpt

The desultory, almost leisurely approach of most of the world’s national states to climate change reflects no detectable sense of urgency. My question is what, if anything, is wrong with this persistent lack of urgency. My answer is that everything is wrong with it and, in particular, that it constitutes a violation of basic rights as well as a failure to seize a golden opportunity to protect rights. I criticized the outcome of the initial climate conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, for establishing “no dates and no dollars: no dates are specified by which emissions are to be reduced by the wealthy states and no dollars are specified with which the wealthy states will assist the poor states to avoid an environmentally dirty development like our own. The convention is toothless.” The general response to such criticisms was that the convention outcome was a good start.
[…]
One question naturally is: Which rights of the people to come are
threatened by climate change, and in which particular ways? Fortunately, a strong contribution to answering this question in detail has been made by Simon Caney, who has carefully shown how climate change will specifically threaten at least three rights, the right to life, the right to health, and the right to subsistence. Here I shall simply rely on Caney’s arguments about which rights so that I can focus on two other questions as they arise in the context of climate change: Which features do rights-protecting institutions need to have and what specifically are the tasks that need to be performed to protect rights against the threat of rapid climate change?

Citation

in (2011) The Ethics of Global Climate Change 292, D.G. Arnold (Ed.) (CUP: Cambridge)

Paper

Human Rights, Climate Change and the Trillionth Ton

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