Tag Archives: united nations

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 Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Indigenous Peoples’ Participation Rights Within International Law (T. Ward)

Author(s)

Tara Ward

Keywords

Indigenous Rights, United Nations, Human Rights, International Labour Organisation, Self-Determination

Abstract

The right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) in relation to development, infrastructure, and resource extraction projects is currently being debated within international law. Particularly contentious is the question of whether the right to FPIC is an existing customary international legal principle and if so, whether this constitutes a full veto right for the affected peoples. This article examines this question by analyzing the development of FPIC within international law and applying the current international standards to two distinct case studies. The first is the Lubicon Cree in Alberta, Canada, and the second is that of the Mayan Communities of Sipakapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacan, Guatemala. Ultimately, these two cases demonstrate how similar violations of indigenous peoples rights can occur in two very different contexts.

While the most explicit expression of FPIC is found in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by examining the jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights system, International Labour Organisation Treaty system, and Inter-American Human Rights system, it is clear that the various treaty bodies are interpreting existing rights to culture, property, and non-discrimination as the right of indigenous peoples to participate in decisions that impact their lands or resources. Although it is clear that as of yet the right to full FPIC is not part of customary international law, there is a well-defined consensus that States at a minimum have an obligation to consult with indigenous peoples in good faith with regard to any projects found within their lands or which impact traditionally used resources.

Furthermore, this analysis, which consists of both of the above-mentioned case studies and international human rights jurisprudence, highlights the extent of the gap that exists between the standards being developed and current State practice. In the end, this article finds that in order to effectively implement the FPIC and other participation rights, consultations must be recognised as expressions of the right to self-determination and not merely as administrative procedures.

Citation

(2011) 10 Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights 54

Paper

The Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Indigenous Peoples’ Participation Rights Within International Law

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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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Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (A. Grear and L.J. Kotzé eds)

Editor

Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé

Keywords

Human rights, environment, epistemology, Ecological Subjectivities, natural law, United Nations, Australasia, New Zealand, environmental justice, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Aarhus, climate displacement, North-South, ecosystem services

Abstract

Bringing together leading international scholars in the field, this authoritative Handbook combines critical and doctrinal scholarship to illuminate some of the challenging tensions in the legal relationships between humans and the environment, and human rights and environment law.

The accomplished contributors provide researchers and students with a rich source of reflection and engagement with the topic. Split into five parts, the book covers epistemologies, core values and closures, constitutionalisms, universalisms and regionalisms, with a final concluding section exploring major challenges and alternative futures.

An essential resource for students and scholars of human rights law, the volume will also be of significant interest to those in the fields of environmental and constitutional law.

Citation

(2015) Edward Elgar

Book

Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment

 

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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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