Tag Archives: international human rights

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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Applying Human Rights Norms to Climate Change: The Elusive Remedy (P. Stephens)

Author

Pamela Stephens

Keywords

climate change, human rights, international human rights, jurisdiction, current and future generations, treaty law, customary international law, SU national courts, Alien Tort Statute

Excerpt

I. Introduction
 
Much has been written about the growing impact of Global Climate Change on human rights as diverse as life, health, property and culture. 2 This article addresses the broad question of the extent to which international human rights norms may be asserted to protect current and future generations from the effects of global climate change. Part II of the article will consider potentially applicable norms in both treaty law and customary international law. Part III will explore the procedures for asserting these rights in the United States’ national courts and the substantive and procedural hurdles for doing so. The principal focus of this exploration will be claims in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) 3 and under the general federal question statutory grant. 4 The possibility of raising these international human rights norms in state courts will also be considered. Finally, Part IV will discuss raising such claims in a regional or international forum, in particular the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”), addressing again the substantive and procedural hurdles for doing so.

The article concludes that while such claims may not be entirely foreclosed, they are unlikely to succeed until the international norms are clearer and more universally accepted. Standing and other justiciability issues will prove difficult to overcome in some of these cases; however, the main obstacles to overcome will be subject matter jurisdiction, the related issue of failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted in national courts, …

Citation

(2010) 21 Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy 49

Paper

Applying Human Rights Norms to Climate Change: The Elusive Remedy

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The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: An International Legal Perspective (McClymounds)

Author(s)

James T. McClymonds

Keywords

international human rights, right to a healthy environment, environmental crisis, international environmental law, state sovereignty, human values, environmental protection, development practices

Abstract

This note examines the development of the international human right to a healthy environment by both determining the extent to which the right has emerged in recent years and by outlining the scope and content of the right as it has emerged. In the first section, the mounting environmental crisis and its effects on human values are described. The second section explores the extent to which explicit recognition of the right to a healthy environment has emerged as a binding international legal principle. The emerging right to development and current developments regarding the principle of state sovereignty are explored as well. In the third section, current international environmental law is examined to glean the emerging principles that define the scope and content of the right. This note concludes in the fourth section by suggesting that although several important elements of the right have emerged under international law, other critical elements have not-particularly those relating to effective implementation and the individual’s ability to bring claims. In addition, this note argues that ultimately the countervailing right to development does not present an obstacle to the emergence of the right to a healthy environment because the growing awareness of the interrelationship between development and ecological health has already led to the incorporation of environmental-protection policies into development practices. Rather, the unwillingness of governments to concede sovereign authority presents the greatest barrier to the growth of the right. Until nation-states are willing to relinquish some measure of state sovereignty, the right to a healthy environment will remain unrealized.

Citation

(1992) 37 New York Law School Law Review 583.

Paper

The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: An International Legal Perspective

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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

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Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change (M. Limon)

Author(s)

Marc Limon

Keywords

small island developing states, climate change, international human rights, obligations, accountability, global warming, vulnerable people

Abstract

In November 2007, Small Island Developing States, meeting in the Maldives, adopted the Male’ Declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change.’ The declaration laid down a roadmap for actions within the UN system designed to explore and draw attention to the relationship between global warming and the full enjoyment of human rights. In June 2009 the various steps foreseen in the Male’ Declaration reached their conclusion when the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Council or the Human Rights Council) held a dedicated interactive panel debate on the relationship between human rights and climate change during its Eleventh Session in June 2009.

The present time, therefore, offers an important opportunity to take stock of progress achieved since the Male’ Declaration was adopted, to assess the current situation, and to consider possible next steps. This Article will offer an assessment of what has been achieved by the rapidly evolving international agenda on human rights and climate change. It will do so by looking at how the international understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationship between climate change and human rights has evolved over the past one and a half years. This will entail an analysis of the degree to which the international community, through the process launched by the Male’ Declaration, has answered three crucial questions pertaining to the human rights climate change interface:

1. Is there a relationship between climate change and human rights, and if so, what is the nature of that relationship?

2. Does climate change constitute a violation of human rights, especially the rights of vulnerable people?

3. Irrespective of whether climate change represents a human rights violation, what are states’ national-level and international-level human rights obligations pertaining to climate change?

After assessing progress in addressing these three central questions, the Article will then move to propose possible next steps, on behalf of the international community, to further clarify the issues at hand and to transpose that understanding into actual mechanisms to better promote and protect human rights in the face of climate change.

This Article will focus solely on actions undertaken within the context of the United Nations Human Rights Council and related international human rights mechanisms. Although academia and non-governmental bodies have played a crucial role in the evolution of the human rights, climate change agenda, their contribution will not be covered here. Moreover, in analyzing progress, the Article will focus on the evolution of hard and soft law in the area, and not on the broader perceptional achievements of the human rights and climate change agenda. Notwithstanding this necessary (for reasons of space) omission, it is clear that such perceptional achievements (i.e., how seeing climate change through a human rights lens has changed the nature of the international conversation on the subject) have been extremely significant (and probably more so than legal achievements).

Citation

(2010) 38 Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 543

Paper

Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change

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