Category Archives: Social Movements

The Roots of Influence: Nongovernmental Organizations and the Relationship Between Human Rights and the Environment (C. Tracy)

Author

Christopher Tracy

Keywords

NGOs, non-governmental organisations, human rights, environment, dignity, future generations, indigenous right, environmental protection, Rio, legitimacy, international relations

Extract

“Part I of this Article will address the history and development of NGOs. Particular attention will be given to the rationale espoused by various NGOs for their participation in certain global concerns or activities. The connections between human rights and environment NGOs will be discussed, as will the reason for this connection – namely, a “dignity” concern for living human beings, the living plant, those yet to be born and the future of this world. This connection between human rights and environmental organizations is most evident in the protection of indigenous peoples and their traditional lands.

Part II will continue the discussion by examining links between human rights and the environmental in international instruments. Although, there have been numerous connections made in previous human rights and environmental documents, the focus here will be on the developments made in Rio.

Part III will examine the tensions arising out of attempts to prioritize when human rights and environment concerns are to be addressed […]

Part IV will suggest that the NGOs’ diverse participation should continue well into the future before any major prioritization will have to occur. […]

This discussion will conclude with the suggestion that NGO involvement in the international regime will continue to grow and, as it does, a balance must be sought between legitimacy in action and vitality in mission” (pp. 24-25)

Citation

(1994) Journal of International Law and Practice 3 pp. 21-46

Paper

The Roots of Influence: Nongovernmental Organizations and the Relationship Between Human Rights and the Environment

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Environmental Justice, Human Rights, and the Global South (C. G. Gonzalez)

Author(s)

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Keywords

human rights, right to a healthy environment, environmental justice, Third World Approaches to International Law, TWAIL, North-South divide, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, colonialism, development, transnational corporations, Maastricht principles, extraterritoriality

Abstract

From the Ogoni people devastated by oil drilling in Nigeria to the Inuit and other indigenous populations threatened by climate change, communities disparately burdened by environmental degradation are increasingly framing their demands for environmental justice in the language of environmental human rights. Domestic and international tribunals have concluded that failure to protect the environment violates a variety of human rights (including the rights to life, health, food, water, property, and privacy; the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and resources; and the right to a healthy environment).

Some scholars have questioned the utility of the human rights framework given the diminished governance capacity of many Third World states due to decades of intervention by international financial institutions and restrictions imposed by trade and investment agreements. Others have expressed doubts about the ability of human rights law to adequately articulate and advance the aspirations and resistance strategies of diverse grassroots social justice movements, and have warned about the susceptibility of human rights law and discourse to co-optation by powerful states to advance their own economic and political interests (for example, through “humanitarian intervention” in Third World states).

This article examines the promise and the peril of environmental human rights as a means of challenging environmental injustice within nations as well as the North-South dimension of environmental injustice. Drawing a distinction between human rights discourse as a tool of popular mobilization and human rights law as codified in legal instruments and enforced by international institutions, the article examines some of the limitations of human rights law as an instrument of resistance to environmental injustice and offers several strategies to enhance its emancipatory potential.

Citation

(2015) 13 Santa Clara Journal of International Law 151

Paper

Environmental Justice, Human Rights, and the Global South

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Human Rights, Human Development, and the Right to a Healthy Environment: An Analytical Framework (M.J. Rogge)

Author(s)

Malcom James Rogge

Keywords

Human Rights, Development, Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Public Participation,

Abstract

This paper provides a framework for understanding the profound interrelationship of human rights, human development, and the right to a healthy environment. The author argues that concerted public action in environmental affairs is necessary for true advancement in human development, and for the broad attainment of the whole range of human rights in society. Human dignity consistent with the realization of human rights is only possible where steps are taken to protect the environments on which people depend for their basic needs. The author links the normative position implied in human rights theory to the practical and prescriptive ideas of human development. In conclusion, the author argues that improving environmental conditions goes hand in hand with improving levels of human development and in promoting human rights.

Citation

(2001) 22 Canadian Journal of Development Studies 33-50

Paper

Human Rights, Human Development, and the Right to a Healthy Environment: An Analytical Framework

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Will the Confluence Between Human Rights and the Environment Continue to Flow? Threats to the Rights of Environmental Defenders to Collaborate and Speak Out (J. Gleason and E. Mitchell)

Author(s)

Jennifer Gleason and Elizabeth Mitchell

Keywords

human rights, environment, environmental defenders, collaboration, United Nations, free speech, association rights, formal and informal mechanisms

Abstract

Part I of this Article describes the defining characteristics of an environmental defender. Part II reviews the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and related regional declarations. Part III examines examples of domestic laws that directly contradict the free speech and association rights of environmental advocates. Part IV briefly discusses the formal and informal mechanisms that defenders use to overcome these obstacles.

Citation

(2009)11 Oregon Review of International Law 267

Paper

Will the Confluence Between Human Rights and
the Environment Continue to Flow? Threats to the Rights of Environmental Defenders to
Collaborate and Speak Out

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Eco-justice: linking human rights and the environment (A. Sachs and JA Peterson)

Author/s

A Sachs and JA Peterson

Keywords

Grassroots movement, environment, human rights, environmental information, confrontations, dumping, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, environmental justice

Abstract

This Worldwatch report affirms that the grassroots movement to improve the environment and human rights should be operable at the regional and international levels. Grassroots groups have demonstrated the success of empowering people and of the protection of civil liberties in environmental preservation. The author’s stance is that “potential polluters and profligate consumers” would not be able to treat vulnerable populations as expendable and would be forced to seek other alternatives to polluting activities and overconsumption, under certain conditions. All vulnerable members of society must have access to environmental information, exercise their rights of free speech, and have a role in determining their access to resources. Prevention is considered less costly by reducing production of hazardous wastes than by increasing the number of dump sites. The preventive lesson learned from human rights activists is that confrontation is necessary between the “dumpers and the dumped on” in order to secure the health and well-being of future generations. Although countries may never agree on a definition of environmental justice, there is global agreement on protecting the basic human rights that make achieving environmental justice possible. Justice is viewed as unattainable without citizen participation in key decisions. The environmental movement has been successful in development of scientific solutions to environmental degradation. Joining forces with human rights activists gives impetus to the movement to get environmental reforms implemented. Irresponsibility concerning protection of the environment is expected to stop when the elites themselves become aware that all humankind is affected by global warming and the survival of all mankind is at stake. This short volume addresses the following topics: how Greenpeace and Amnesty International are learning from each other; the human rights focus on individuals; environmental issues that cross national borders; a human rights framework for sustainable development; and environmental justice.

Citation

Washington, D.C., Worldwatch Institute, 1995 Dec. 68 (Worldwatch Paper 127)

Publication

Eco-justice: linking human rights and the environment.

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