Tag Archives: environmental degradation

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Humanitarian Law and the Environment (M. N. Schmitt)

Author(s)

Michael N. Schmitt

Keywords

war crime, environmental damage, environmental degradation, international humanitarian law, environmental consequences of warfare, International Criminal Court, military operations, environmental safeguarding, weapons, treaty law

Excerpt

“Introduction

When the Rome Conference adopted the Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July 1998, it included as a war crime the causation of “widespread, long term and severe damage to the natural environment.” Such “greening” of international humanitarian law promises heightened sensitivity to the environmental consequences of warfare as we enter the new millennium. The ICC Statue provision, however, is but the most recent example of a growing environmental consciousness vis-a-vis military operations that first began to surface over two decades ago.

This article catalogues those aspects of international humanitarian law that safeguard the environment during armed conflict: it is intended primarily as a primer for those new to the subject. As will become apparent, humanitarian law has focused scant attention directly on the environment. Instead, it relies on conventional and customary humanitarian law that has only recent been recognized as having environmental consequence for the bulk of its environmental play. Following a brief review of the historical context from which the law emerged, discussion turns to four types of relevant norms: 1) specific environmental provisions in humanitarian law; 2) limits on the use of particular weapons capable of causing environmental damage; 3) non-environment specific treaty law which may safeguard the environment in certain circumstances; and 4) customary humanitarian law offering environmental protection. Although the article’s tenor is primarily descriptive, in order to stimulate further reflection, the final section provides an abridged assessment of the applicable normative environment; it suggests that while the environment component of international law governing warfare is not vacuous, there is certainly room for improvement.” (265-6)

Citation

(2000) 28 Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 3 pp. 265-323

Paper

Humanitarian Law and the Environment

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

An Emerging Human Right to Security from Climate Change: The Case Against Gas Flaring in Nigeria (A. Sinden)

Author

Amy Sinden

Keywords

Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Corporations

Abstract

Most of the oil wells in Nigeria are accompanied by a raging flame that burns twenty-four hours a day, reaching hundreds of feet into the sky, killing the surrounding vegetation with searing heat, emitting a deafening roar, and belching a cocktail of smoke, soot, and toxic chemicals into the air along with a potent mixture of greenhouse gases. In 2005, the Federal High Court of Nigeria ruled that the widespread practice of gas flaring by Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta constituted a human rights violation. This may be the first court ruling anywhere in the world to suggest that there is a human right to security from climate change. Such a right is warranted. It actually fits comfortably within the principles and values that underlie some of the oldest and most venerated rights in the civil and political rights tradition. Even though that tradition was born over two hundred years ago, long before anyone could have conceived of the idea of climate change, this problem – at least in its political aspects – is exactly the kind of problem that civil and political rights are aimed at combating. It is a problem that arises fundamentally from the distortion of government decision making by power. Nor does the fact that the actions complained of here were committed by private actors take this case outside the rubric of human rights. Even under traditional doctrine, the close relationship between Shell and the Nigerian government in this case may well warrant a finding of liability against Shell for acting in concert with the State. But even in cases where no joint venture with the government can be proved, it may be appropriate to hold the multi-national corporation liable. The same concerns that animated the conceptualization of civil and political rights in the eighteenth century as rights against the State, warrant the imposition of such rights directly against multinational corporations in the twenty-first century, when such corporations wield more wealth than many countries and the power of multinationals to affect the conditions of daily existence for individuals often rivals that of government.

Citation

(2008) in Adjudicating Climate Change: State, National, and International Approaches, W.C. Burns and H.M Osofsky (Eds)

Paper

An Emerging Human Right to Security from Climate Change: The Case Against Gas Flaring in Nigeria

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Conflicts in International Environmental Law (R. Wolfrum and N. Matz)

Author(s)

Rüdiger Wolfrum, Nele Matz

Keywords

conflict, international environmental law, coordination, agreement, environmental degradation

Abstract

This volume is an important contribution to both theoretical and practical approaches to solving contradictions and conflicts between the approaches, principles, objectives and regulations of international environmental agreements. The issue of the coordination and streamlining of environmental agreements is of growing importance regarding the increasing number of international regulations on the one hand and the urgency for effective instruments in the light of continuing environmental degradation on the other. This study will become an essential reference for scholars as well as practitioners working in the field of international environmental law.

Citation

R. Wolfrum and N. Matz. 2003. Conflicts in International Environmental Law (Springer-Verlag: Berlin)

Book

Conflicts in International Environmental Law

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Exercising Environmental Human Rights and Remedies in the United Nations System (L. A. Malone)

Author(s)

Linda A. Malone

Keywords

environmental degradation, human rights violation, international human rights, United Nations, environmental human rights, jurisdiction, international law

Abstract

Whenever environmental degradation results in a human harm that violates accepted human rights norms, an international, regional or domestic human rights committee, commission, and/or court may provide a remedy that can contribute effectively to rectifying the underlying environmental
degradation as well as the human rights violation. This Article chronicles in the United Nations (“UN”) system the array of environmental human rights claims, how to determine and establish jurisdiction in the proper forum, the functions of varying fora where such claims may be filed, and newly emerging rights that have been recognized and legitimized in international law through this process.

Citation

(2002) 27 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review 365.

Paper

Exercising Environmental Human Rights and Remedies in the United Nations System

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail