Do human rights help or hinder environmental protection? (C. Gearty)


Conor Gearty (LSE, UK)


human rights, environmental protection, social movements, civil and political rights, economic and social rights


It is acknowledged that traditional approaches to human rights can have and have had a negative impact in the field of environmental protection. But the emphasis in human rights on controlling the abuse of power and its capacity to equip social movements with a language of protest and a platform for change shows the potential for mutually beneficial connections between the two fields. The use made by environmental activists of various human rights that are to be found in international and regional laws is considered, as well as the way new social movements in the environmental arena have deployed the language of rights to promote their goals. It is concluded that a mutually reciprocal relationship between the two fields is both possible and – given the threat of climate change – essential.


(2010) 1 Journal or Human Rights and the Environment 7


Do human rights help or hinder environmental protection?