Category Archives: Human Rights

Conscience and Interest: Law, Rights, and Politics in the Struggle to Confront Climate Change and the New Poverty (P.L. Joffe)

Author

Paul L. Joffe

Keywords

Global warming, sustainable development, international community, global public goods, politics, public interest, climate change, norms and morality

Abstract

In this article, I first explain how global warming has transformed the struggle to end global poverty and to achieve sustainable development. I suggest that the new situation creates special challenges due to the heightened need for global collective action to produce global public goods, namely unpolluted air and sustainable development.

I then address how the international community determines whether global collective action should be taken and what should be done, focusing in particular on the new poverty and global warming. This includes the history and role of treaties, policy initiatives, and human rights. To illuminate the nature of these and how they are related, I look back at some examples of thinking about rights and law during the seminal period of World War II and its aftermath.

Among other things, this history shows that our modern concept of human rights was heavily influenced by the desire of the United States and its allies during World War II to define the struggle in terms of the rights and freedoms for which the allies were fighting. Americans realized it is in our own national interest to recognize the rights of others. Today, in global warming, we face a new worldwide, revolutionary threat, but also opportunities, that demand unprecedented global cooperation. Unless we take prompt action, we face devastating impacts across the globe, with the poorest nations most exposed because they are less equipped to cope. On the other hand, if we undertake a far reaching transition to a clean energy future, we can reap the benefits of new technology, new sources of jobs, new markets, a cleaner and healthier environment, and stronger sustainable development worldwide.

To meet the threat and develop the opportunities, the international community has a jumble of fragmentary institutions, bits of hard law and large amounts of soft law, rights and obligations often indistinctly defined, and many policy initiatives of uncertain impact. I argue that confronting climate change presents a crisis of inadequacy for this system analogous to the crisis for international cooperation created by World War II. I urge the development of human rights law to help address the problems, but I also urge that we use treaties, policy initiatives, and human rights together to define the global public interest in confronting climate change and its impacts. The result may be a legal and policy landscape changed in some respects, but drawing on lessons of the past regarding the mobilizing force of the moral dimension of law.

Next, I look at the obstacles to collective action and the ways in which these obstacles can be overcome to achieve consensus on global warming, poverty, and sustainable development. This includes exploring how national and private interests can be adjusted to achieve the broader common good of the international community.

I argue that the effort to provide global public goods depends on a politics that creates space for the public interest. In confronting climate change, the public is discovering itself. It is discovering that, while citizens have private or group interests, they also have interests in common with everyone else. A law and politics of the public interest does not ignore narrow interests, but establishes a process to fairly accommodate both. The all-important question of how much weight to give to each and how to integrate them must take place through a democratic process. Approximating this on a global scale creates yet another great challenge.

Finally, I discuss the role of norms and morality and how they interact with interests in the effort to achieve collaboration needed to provide public goods. Increasingly, moral claims are raised on behalf of action to confront climate change. They play an important role in the field of human rights, which are based on ethical standards. Beyond modern human rights principles, however, I note that for centuries it was thought that morality was integral to the entire legal system and I suggest how we might learn from this as we try anew to address the common concerns of the international community.

Citation

(2009) 6 Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy 269

Paper

Conscience and Interest: Law, Rights, and Politics in the Struggle to Confront Climate Change and the New Poverty

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Human rights in the market place: The exploitation of rights protection…(C. Harding et al)

Author(s)

Christopher Harding, Uta Kohl and Naomi Salmon

Keywords

Human rights; public law; environmental and commercial policy; commercial law; economic policy; corporate behaviour.

Abstract

The ideology of human rights protection has gained considerable momentum during the second half of the twentieth century at both national and international levels and appears to be an effective lever for bringing about legal change. This book analyses this strategy in environmental and commercial policy and considers the use of the ‘public law’ discourse of basic human rights protection and its transportation and use in the ‘commercial law’ context of economic policy, business activity and corporate behaviour.

Citation

Human rights in the market place: The exploitation of rights protection by economic actors(Aldershot: Ashgate Press, 2008)

Book

Human rights in the market place: The exploitation of rights protection by economic actors.

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Judicial Protection of the Right to a Clean & Healthy Environment in Uganda (B.K. Twinomugisha)

Author

Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha

Keywords

Accountability, environment, healthy, judicial protection, private actors, rights, state, Uganda.

Abstract

In Uganda there has been significant progress in the field of environmental protection through various legal and policy strategies. The Constitution of Uganda and the National Environment Act contain novel provisions, including the right to a clean and healthy environment. The judiciary in Uganda has decided a number of cases concerning violations of this right. Against this background, this article reflects on the extent to which the judiciary has protected the right. The article finds that through a creative application of the right, the judiciary has to some extent held the state, its agencies and private actors accountable. The article concludes that there are still challenges facing judicial protection of the right. For an enhanced judicial protection of the right, the article recommends a more expanded application of relevant constitutional provisions. Environmental and human rights activists should not only educate the public on the right to a clean and healthy environment and its enforcement but also adduce necessary scientific and technical evidence in court.

Citation

(2007) 3(3) Law, Environment and Development Journal 244

Paper

Some Reflections on Judicial Protection of the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment in Uganda

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Human Rights in Natural Resource Development (D.M. Zillman, et al)

Editor(s)

Donald M. Zillman (University of Maine , USA)
Alastair Lucas (University of Calgary, Canada )
George (Rock) Pring (University of Denver, USA)

Keywords

Public participation, human right, rights of indigenous peoples, resource development, endangered species, biological diversity, Aarhus Convention, natural resources, energy, public rights, private development, mining, petroleum, sustainable development, European Community, US, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Central and Eastern Europe, Nigeria, Argentina, Columbia, Peru, Mexico, Central America, Asia, the Pacific, newly independent states

Abstract

The first comprehensive examination and explanation of the new human right of public participation in government decision-making in natural resource development
With the great increase in both human rights and resource development this subject is set to assume fundamental importance in the coming years
Combines an international overview with chapters which show the contrasting scope of these rights in the developed and developing world

A new human right of public participation by those affected by natural resource development is set to define major economic developments in the twenty-first century. It is a fundamental part of the international norm of ‘sustainable development’, designed to harmonize economic betterment and environmental-cultural-social protection for this and succeeding generations. A recognized human right since the 1940s, public participation today is assuming many different legal and political forms – citizen involvement, indigenous peoples’ rights, local community rights, sustainable development agreements, public hearings, consultation, advisory councils, right to information, right to justice, decisional transfers, benefits sharing, and more. The right to be heard is a fundamental principle of public law in most of the world’s legal systems, but in practice ranges from being deeply ingrained in some cultures to non-existent in others.

Understanding this new human dimension in law and development is now essential not only for lawyers but also for companies, governments, international agencies, NGOs, IGOs, and citizens. This book, authored by international resources law experts from all over the world, provides the theoretical and practical guidance essential to understanding and dealing with this new development. Its first section lays out the basics of what is becoming known as public participation law – its origins, history, theories, modern sources, and future directions. The second section presents the international legal authorities. The third section analyzes the current experience and future trends in over a dozen nations and regions of critical resource development interest, from Africa, Australasia, Southeast Asia and China to Europe and North, Central, and South America.

Citation

Donald M. Zillman, Alastair Lucas, and George (Rock) Pring (eds), Human Rights in Natural Resource Development: Public Participation in the Sustainable Development of Mining and Energy Resources (OUP, USA 2002)

Book

Human Rights in Natural Resource Development: Public Participation in the Sustainable Development of Mining and Energy Resources

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Environment and Citizenship (M.J. Smith and P. Pangsapa)

Author(s)

Mark J. Smith and Piya Pangsapa

Keywords

Environmental and ecological citizenship, environmental justice, risks, environmental movements

Abstract

This timely book outlines the debates on environmental and ecological citizenship that have emerged out of the concern with environmental justice since the 1990s. The book demonstrates how awareness of environmental hazards, injustices and new forms of risk is only effective when it generates strategies for political change. It examines how environmental movements have become increasingly involved in governance processes at the national, regional and intergovernmental levels, in contexts such as the EU, UN and LA21 initiatives. The authors argue that while ‘rights-discourse’ has highlighted the status of specific identities, taking account of obligation prompts a consideration of social, cultural, political, economic and environmental injustices. Tackling these injustices demands a concern with both entitlements and obligations of all relevant parties and constituencies.

Using new evidence and case studies, this book explores:

– the new vocabulary of citizenship
– how successful environmental policy-making depends on the responsible actions of civil society actors as much as on governments and international treaties
– how stakeholding processes and participatory research in environmental decision-making transform deliberation processes and civic engagement
– the increased importance of transnational networks creating public-private and civil strategic partnerships between organizations

NGO activists, ministers, academics and environmental philosophers all now refer to ‘citizenship’ as a key concept for understanding environmental justice and responsibility. Using contexts as diverse as Southern Spain, the borderlands of Thailand and South Africa, this book demonstrates how ecological citizenship provides the key link between them through processes of civic engagement.

Citation

Mark J. Smith and Piya Pangsapa, Environment and Citizenship: Integrating Justice, Responsibility and Civic Engagement (Zed Books, 2008)

Book

Environment and Citizenship: Integrating Justice, Responsibility and Civic Engagement

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