Category Archives: United Nations

The Right to a Satisfactory Environment and the Africa Commission (K. Ebeku)

Author

Kaniye Ebeku

Keywords

Human Rights, Right to a Healthy Environment, Comparative Law, Common Law, Islamic Law, Constitutional Law, Africa, Nigeria, Oil

Extract

Summary
This article emphasises that the right to a satisfactory, healthy or clean environment is enshrined in over 60 constitutions from all regions of the world. Moreover, it is suggested that there is an increasing trend by victims of environmental damage to invoke human rights for protection and redress. National courts and global and regional human rights monitoring bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission, have addressed this issue. It is encouraging that the African Commission recently decided a case concerning the impact of oil operations in the Niger Delta, concluding that the African Charter recognises the importance of a clean and safe environment. The decision recognises a nexus between socio-economic rights and the right to environment to the extent that the environment affects the quality of life and safety of individuals and groups. In finding Nigeria in violation of the Charter, the Commission stated that the right to a satisfactory environment ‘requires the state to take reasonable and other measures to prevent pollution and ecological degradation, to promote conservation, and to secure an ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources’.

Citation

(2003) 3 African Human Rights Law Journal 150

Paper

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Environmental and Developmental Rights in the Southern African Development Community With Specific Reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa (K. Bindu)

Author

Kihangi Bindu

Keywords

Environmental rights, International Law, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Development, United Nations

Extract

Summary
This study examines the effectiveness of environmental and developmental rights within the SADC region, especially the status of their implementation and enforcement in the DRC and the RSA. The SADC Treaty recognizes implicitly the rights to environment and to development. Unfortunately, the unequivocal commitment to deal with human rights within the region is not translated with equal force into the normative framework established by the Treaty or into SADC’s programmed activities. No institution has been established with the specific mandate to deal with human rights issues, neither are there any protocols or sectors especially entrusted with human rights protection and promotion. The SADC member States do not share the same understanding or agenda on matters pertaining to the respect for, and the promotion, protection
and the fulfilment, of human rights at the regional level. The inception of environmental and developmental rights within the Constitution of the DRC is still in its infancy compared to the situation in South Africa. Implementation and enforcement remain poor and need important support from all organs of state and from the Congolese citizens. A strong regulatory framework pertaining to human rights (environmental and developmental rights) remains an urgent issue. Guidance may be found in the South African model for the implementation and enforcement of human rights, although the realization of the right to environment in South Africa is hampered by a number of factors that cause the degradation of the environment. Against South Africa’s socio-economic and political background, the constitutionalization of the right to development remains of critical concern to a sustainable future for all. The Congolese and South African peoples need to be made aware of their constitutional rights, especially their environmental and development rights, and the institutions and the mechanisms available to enforce them. They need to be empowered to demand justice as a right not as an act of charity. It is patently clear that the authorities will not protect the environment or tackle the development agenda unless there is a strong people’s movement to challenge the State and other role players over environmental and development issues and ethics.

Citation

(2010) submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Laws at the University of South Africa

Paper

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Greening the International Human Rights Sphere? Environmental Rights and the Draft Declaration of Principles of Human Rights and the Environment (K. Wolfe)

Author(s)

Karrie Wolfe

Keywords

natural environment, human rights, basic rights, natural ecosystems, environmental rights, United Nations, Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment

Abstract

Introduction

A vital connection exists between the natural environment and fundamental human rights. Basic survival of the human species is inherently linked to the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems, from which the essential components of daily life are directly and indirectly derived. The linkage between the environment and human rights has been recognized internationally in numerous human rights instruments. It formed the basis of a United Nations (“UN”) sub-commission study on human rights and the environment in the early 1990s. The UN Special Rapporteur submitted her final report in 1994. Appended to her report was a Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment (“the Draft Declaration”).

Despite these efforts, and seemingly widespread recognition of the connection between human rights and the environment, formal recognition of “environmental rights” on a global level remains elusive. While the concept still generates occasional debate in international legal and political spheres, the Draft Declaration, which was designed to comprehensively address the environmental dimensions of human rights, has all but disappeared from the human rights agenda. The reasons for this are unclear.

This examination begins with a contextual overview of environmental rights. The paper continues with an outline of the history and current status of the Draft Declaration, followed by a general analysis of the document. The paper explores arguments advanced by both supporters and critics of the rights-based approach, and briefly discusses two …

Citation

(2003) 9 Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform 45

Paper

Greening the International Human Rights Sphere? Environmental Rights and the Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment

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The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific (S. Tully)

Author(s)

Stephen Tully

Keywords

Climate Change, Human Rights, Climate Impacts, United Nations, Pacific Islands, Resettlement, International Humanitarian Law, International Environmental Law, Environmental Refugees

Abstract

The adverse impacts of climate change include temperature variations, lost biodiversity and more frequent extreme weather events. In particular, low-lying Pacific Island countries and territories will be inundated if predicted sea level rises eventuate. These impacts threaten the continued enjoyment by Pacific Islanders of their fundamental human rights. Rising sea levels threatens their personal safety, continued good health, secure access to proper means of subsistence including food and water and the habitability of coastal settlements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change encourages developed states to adopt measures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and financially support adaptation activity undertaken by developing countries. However, several states lack the requisite political will, financial support is inadequate, adaptation measures are limited and small island developing states are becoming increasingly vulnerable. This article provides an overview of climate change impacts within the Pacific region in human rights terms. It argues that the strategy of adaptation, although consistent with the sustainable development agenda, is limited as an effective long-term response to sea level rise. It proposes an international framework that ensures, in the worst-case scenario, that affected individuals are relocated and resettled within other states. It draws upon existing and emergent legal regimes with respect to humanitarian assistance, natural disasters, maritime law concerning search and rescue, internally displaced persons, the environmental refugee concept and the obligations of interstate cooperation arising under international environmental law in the event of transboundary harm. This framework will be most effective if underpinned by the many positive contributions to be made by the paradigm for the protection of human rights.

Citation

(2007) 5 New Zealand Journal of Public International Law 175

Paper

The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific

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Establishing a Right to Environment (M. Thorme)

Author

Melissa Thorme

Keywords

Human Rights, International Law, United Nations, Human Rights Commission, Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities

Excerpt

A. Statement of Purpose
[…]

For over two decades, scholars have debated the existence of a human right to environment. These debates have varied from generalized notions of what to include within the term “environment” to actual proposals for amendments to multinational human rights conventions. Unfortunately, the attention given to this subject over the years has not resulted in any substantial headway toward a legal recognition of the right.

This paper proposes a new avenue for establishing this international right, namely, by resolutions and actions, by the United Nations Sub- Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (Sub-Commission) and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Human Rights Commission). Establishing environment as a human right will make the right to environment as justiciable as other previously defined human rights. It will make human rights forums able, and more willing, to hear claims by individuals and non-governmental organizations. Claims alleging gross violations of this human right may then be brought whenever environmental degradation affecting human life, health, or well-being occurs. […]

Citation

(1990-1991) 19 Denver Journal on International Law and Policy 301

Paper

Establishing a Right to Environment

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