The Right to a Satisfactory Environment and the Africa Commission (K. Ebeku)


Kaniye Ebeku


Human Rights, Right to a Healthy Environment, Comparative Law, Common Law, Islamic Law, Constitutional Law, Africa, Nigeria, Oil


This article emphasises that the right to a satisfactory, healthy or clean environment is enshrined in over 60 constitutions from all regions of the world. Moreover, it is suggested that there is an increasing trend by victims of environmental damage to invoke human rights for protection and redress. National courts and global and regional human rights monitoring bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission, have addressed this issue. It is encouraging that the African Commission recently decided a case concerning the impact of oil operations in the Niger Delta, concluding that the African Charter recognises the importance of a clean and safe environment. The decision recognises a nexus between socio-economic rights and the right to environment to the extent that the environment affects the quality of life and safety of individuals and groups. In finding Nigeria in violation of the Charter, the Commission stated that the right to a satisfactory environment ‘requires the state to take reasonable and other measures to prevent pollution and ecological degradation, to promote conservation, and to secure an ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources’.


(2003) 3 African Human Rights Law Journal 150