Tag Archives: democracy

Is Access to Environmental Information a Fundamental Human Right? (S. Kravchenko)

Author(s)

Svitlana Kravchenko

Keywords

environmental information, human rights, right of access to information, democracy, disclosure, decision-making

Abstract

Can access to information held by the State be seen as a fundamental right of the individual and a crucial component of democracy? What about access to environmental information? This Article attempts to answer these questions by exploring international treaties and agreements, national constitutions, and national information laws. The Article starts by providing some background and history on the issue of public access to government records. It analyzes the extent of the right of access to information, restrictions on access to information, procedures for obtaining information from governmental agencies, and remedies for violating the right of access to information. It also identifies problems that frequently arise in the field of public access to information and makes recommendations for promoting public access to environmental information, based on examples where such practices are already in place. Access to information allows the public to be aware of governmental decisions that can impact the environment and individual lives. It also allows the public to participate in criticizing, and thereby improving governmental decision-making. This ultimately can help to prevent harmful activities that can cause significant damage to the health of people and the environment. The Article contends that meaningful access to information must include these key principles:

• Maximum disclosure and transparency of governmental files should exist;

• Any exceptions for access to information should be narrowly drawn, with only limited and justifiable exemptions;

• Information should be provided free of charge or at reasonable cost; and

• Administrative or judicial remedies for denial of access to information should be available.

Citation

(2009) 11 Oregon Review of International Law 227

Paper

Is Access to Environmental Information a Fundamental Human Right? 

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Which direction for international environmental law? (Anderson)

Author

Paul Anderson

Keywords

Sustainability, governance, neoclassical economics, distributive justice, democracy, commons

Abstract

An enduring challenge to international environmental law is to facilitate the resolution of environmental problems faster than they are being caused. Prominent among potential foundations for substantive international environmental law to this end are (a) neoclassical economic theory (NET) and (b) distributive justice and deliberative democratic theories. Building upon existing critique, this paper makes two broad arguments. The first is that despite the influence of NET’s market-based prescriptions, solutions lie not in introducing and extending the privatization and pricing of nature, but instead in subsuming markets within an expanded and enriched public sphere that is characterized inter alia by decentralized, deliberative democratic decision-making. This contention suggests a need to reform substantive environmental law that is informed by NET. The second argument made is that limitations, in particular, of the deliberative democratic approach to environmental problems (e.g., prospects of achieving consensus on natural resource use and the efficacy of any consensus that might be reached) may be overcome by combining it with common key resource control – to put it crudely, by combining meaningful political with economic democracy. This revised foundation would offer a potentially viable foundation for IEL. It also offers guidance for incipient efforts to democratize environmental regulation.

Citation

(2105) 1 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 98-126

Publication

Which direction for international environmental law?

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Explaining the emergence of constitutional environmental rights: a global quantitative analysis (Gellers)

Author

Joshua C Gellers

Keywords

Constitutions, democracy, environmental rights, human rights, international relations, survival analysis

Abstract

While the growing trend towards constitutional enactment of environmental rights has mainly been discussed in normative and descriptive terms, few scholars have endeavoured to explain the phenomenon in a systematic fashion and none have approached the subject from the perspective of international relations (IR). In this article, I seek to correct for this theoretical gap and augment the existing understanding of this global development in constitutional design. Using survival analysis, I examine normative, rationalist-materialist, and domestic politics explanations for the phenomenon observed. I find that the adoption of constitutional environmental rights is significantly associated with international civil society influence, human rights legacy, and level of democracy, and best explained by theories of domestic politics and norm socialization. This research suggests that the emergence of constitutional environmental rights signals a major shift in the international normative arena.

Citation

(2015) 1 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 75-97

Publication

Explaining the emergence of constitutional environmental rights: a global quantitative analysis

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Liberal Democracy and the Rights of Nature: The Struggle for Inclusion (R. Eckersley)

Author(s)

Robyn Eckersley

Keywords

econcentricism, democracy, rights of nature, liberal democracy, liberalism

Abstract

Is there a necessary, in‐principle connection between ecocentric values and democracy or is the relationship merely contingent? Is it possible to incorporate the interests of the non‐human community into the ground rules of democracy? Through an immanent ecological critique of the regulative ideals and institutions of liberal democracy, it is suggested that ecocentric values and democracy can be connected to some extent ‐ at least in the same way that liberalism and democracy are connected ‐ through an extension of the principle of autonomy and the rights discourse to include ecological interests. However, the move from autonomy, to rights, to an ecologically grounded democracy encounters a number of hazards, not all of which can be successfully negotiated owing to the individualistic premises of the rights discourse. While the rights discourse may be extended to include human environmental rights and animal rights in relation to captive and domesticated species, it becomes considerably strained and unworkable (ontologically, politically and legally) in relation to the remaining constituents of the biotic community.

Citation

(2007) 4 Environmental Politics 169

Paper

Liberal Democracy and the Rights of Nature: The Struggle for Inclusion

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Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases that Changed the World (O. Houck)

Author

Oliver Houck

Keywords

Environmental justice, democracy, people

Abstract

Taking Back Eden is the gripping tale of an idea—that ordinary people have the right to go to court to defend their environment—told through the stories of lawsuits brought in eight countries around the world. Starting in the United States in the l960’s, this idea is now traveling the planet, with impacts not just on imperiled environments but on systems of justice and democracy. It has brought people back into the question of governing the quality of their lives. Author Oliver Houck describes the sites under contention in their place and time, the people who rose up, their lawyers, strategies, obstacles, setbacks and victories.

Written for general readers, students, and lawyers alike, Taking Back Eden tells the stories of a lone fisherman intent on protecting the Hudson River, a Philippine lawyer boarding illegal logging ships from the air, the Cree Indian Nation battling for its hunting grounds, and a civil rights attorney who set out to save the Taj Mahal. The cases turn on Shinto and Hindu religions, dictatorships in Greece and Chile, regime changes in Russia, and on a remarkable set of judges who saw a crisis and stepped up to meet it in similar ways. Spontaneously, without communication among each other, their protagonists created a new brand of law and hope for a more sustainable world.

Citation

Oliver Houck, Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases that Changed the World (Island Press, 2009)

Book

Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases that Changed the World

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