Tag Archives: poverty

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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Integrated Justice: Human Rights, Climate Change, and Poverty (S. L. Kass)

Author(s)

Stephen L. Kass

Keywords

human rights, climate change, poverty, justice, economic rights, civil rights, political rights, social rights, cultural rights

Abstract

The human rights community in the United States has remained largely silent on the human rights implications of climate change, the most far-reaching change in the Earth’s environment since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. 1 Many U.S. human rights organizations have also ignored or treated as background the growing numbers of people living or dying in extreme poverty in the developing world. Yet climate change is certain to exacerbate the severe environmental and economic conditions already faced by billions of people. These conditions contribute to widespread violations of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights that are the central concern of human rights organizations.

This Article outlines a role that human rights organizations in the United States and elsewhere can play in linking environmentally irresponsible conduct by governments and corporations to the violation of basic human rights. In addition, this Article identifies rights-based remedies for those violations. The goal is neither to assert a new right to a clean (or cooler) environment nor to prescribe specific climate change policies to governments or others. However, climate change and related environmental decisions made by governmental and corporate authorities must now take into account both procedural and substantive human rights and the impact of those decisions on the world’s poor. For the same reason, organizations committed to overcoming poverty, defending the environment, and protecting human rights should revise their tendency to view challenges, in developing nations and elsewhere, through a single lens and should pursue, either together …

Citation

(2009) 18 Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems 115.

Paper

Integrated Justice: Human Rights, Climate Change, and Poverty

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Avoiding Adaptation Apartheid: Climate Change Adaptation and Human Rights Law (M. J. Hall and D. C. Weiss)

Author(s)

Margaux J. Hall and David C. Weiss

Keywords

developing countries, United Nations, global warming, impacts of climate change, poverty, adaptation, climate consequences, human rights law, culpability

Abstract

There is now little doubt that humans will be forced to adapt to the impacts of a warming world. There is also little doubt that the poorest people in the poorest countries will bear most of the burden of adapting to climate consequences they had almost no role in creating. As the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has explained, “In the Netherlands, people are investing in homes that can float on water. The Swiss Alpine ski industry is investing in artificial snow-making machines,” but “[i]n the Horn of Africa, ‘adaptation’ means that women and young girls walk further to collect water.” In the Ganges and Mekong Deltas, “people are erecting bamboo flood shelters on stilts” and “planting mangroves to protect themselves against storm surges.” A final adaptation strategy in the Mekong? “[W]omen and children are being taught to swim.”

Despite these sobering realities, the question of whether climate change implicates human rights law at all has been relatively unexplored until recently. In 2007, for example, the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the primary report from the United Nations-chartered body responsible for reviewing and assessing information on climate change—scarcely mentioned human rights in nearly 3,000 pages of analysis. However, multiple actors have begun to close this analytical gap: small island states and indigenous populations have claimed in a variety of international fora that climate change has threatened the human rights of their people; an increasing number of academic commentators have worked to explain how climate change issues implicate human rights law; and in 2009, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued the first UN report addressing the links between climate change and human rights.

The increasing incorporation of human rights law in climate change analysis is important, and the efforts to link climate change and human rights law have shifted from asking whether there is such a connection to examining the implications of the relationship. This recognition that climate change implicates human rights is significant because it provides a tangible legal framework for analyzing state actions that lead to climate change. Indeed, because the primary blame for climate change lies with the developed states that have caused the problem, and because human rights analyses are typically centered on state action, human rights provides a lens through which to analyze developed countries’ culpability.

Citation

(2012) 37 Yale Journal of International Law 309.

Paper

Avoiding Adaptation Apartheid: Climate Change Adaptation and Human Rights Law

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Human Rights, Environment and Development: With Special Emphasis on Corporate Accountability (A. Dias)

Author(s)

Ayesha Dias

Keywords

human rights, environment, development, corporate accountability, policy, praxis, poverty, environmental protection, conservation, sustainable human development

Abstract

This paper is in two parts addressing interrelated topics which merit separate scrutiny as well. Part I focuses on the interrelationships between human rights, environment and development. In doing so, the paper is less motivated by philosophical and academic concerns. Rather, it is motivated by concerns of policy and praxis. Environmental degradation is all too often resulting in serious human rights violations. Poverty and failure to realize basic human rights are placing the environment under severe stress. Development can serve as a key vehicle for promoting realization of human rights and protecting the environment. However, all too often, unsustainable development practices are themselves proving to be a main source of human rights violations and environmental degradation. Hence the paper strives to enhance the complementary relationship between promoting and protecting human rights; conserving, protecting and rehabilitating the environment; and achieving sustainable human development.

Citation

Ayesha Dias, Human Rights, Environment and Development: With Special Emphasis on Corporate Accountability (UNDP, 2000)

Paper

Human Rights, Environment and Development: With Special Emphasis on Corporate Accountability

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Developing Countries, Environmental Challenges, Politics and Human Rights…Poverty (F.O. Oduor)

Author

Fredrick Oduol Oduor

Keywords

Environment, Poverty, Developing Countries, Politics, Human Rights

Abstract

Developing countries have been struggling to deconstruct the ‘right to poverty’ which they have found themselves mired in for decades. However the issue of climate change has further obfuscated their desire to utilise the same methods used by developed countries in attaining their developed status. This is further exacerbated by trade protectionism at times guised as environmentalism especially with the debut of the global environmental enterprise. Human rights are now a primal concept increasingly accepted in most developing countries albeit begrudgingly. However governments find themselves constrained by development and environmental concerns which often clash with various fundamental humanrights. Environmental considerations are increasingly affecting political careers, with developing countries that have made fragile yet astute political gains in good governance at great risk. The discourse first addresses human rights and environmental protection. It then addresses global disparities noting the structures that reinforce poverty. This includes the impact of international law on the environment and human rights in developed and developing countries, popularly referred to as the North and South respectively. The last part addresses how developing nations can still attempt to deconstruct the ‘right to poverty’ amidst environmental challenges taking into account utilitarianism as the backbone of such attempts.

Citation

(8 March 2010) Working Paper Series

Paper

Developing Countries, Environmental Challenges, Politics and HumanRights: Another Conundrum in the Quest to Deconstruct the ‘Right to Poverty

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