Lauren A. Mowery
earth rights, human rights, international environmental rights, corporate accountability, transnational corporations
In the last fifty years, transnational corporations (“TNCs”) have dominated the global economy. Today, approximately half of the top economies worldwide belong to such corporations. 1 The gross domestic product (“GDP”) of many TNCs dwarf the GDPs of many small nations around the globe. 2 Some of these smaller, capitalstarved nations have turned to TNCs to improve their economies. 3 These countries flaunt low labor costs and meager environmental standards to attract TNCs from the United States and Western Europe to begin operations on their turf. Regrettably however, the boost to developing nations’ economies comes at a high price. 4
Topping the list of abuses cited by various advocacy groups are the exploitation of child labor and the degradation of the environment. For example, in Ecuador, TNCs that extract oil from the ground have poisoned ecosystems, thereby endangering the welfare of indigenous people who are dependent on those ecosystems. 5 These problems are of growing concern worldwide. As a result, environmental pundits are posing questions regarding the links among human rights violations, enforcement of environmental protection measures and international law. This Note addresses these issues and suggests a framework for the development of environmental protection as an international human right. The increasing relationship between one’s human rights and the state of the environment, gives rise to several theories exploring the redress of environmental damages through a human rights schema. Part I of this Note briefly outlines the history of the human rights movement. Part II describes …
(2002) 13 Fordham Environmental Law Journal 343.