Tag Archives: accountability

Should or Must?: Nature of the Obligation of States to Use Trade Instruments for the Advancement of Environmental, Labour, and Other Human Rights (S. J. Powell)

Author

Stephen J. Powell

Keywords

human rights, ethical obligations, legal quality, power, global harm principle, international law, accountability, human rights violations, transnational corporations, U.S. Alien Tort Statute

Abstract

This article examines whether customs, treaties, and historical facts have caused the ethical human rights obligations of economically powerful states to assume a legal quality. The author argues that the legal quality of these obligations may arise from the global harm principle of international law and human rights obligations found in treaties. As a consequence, states may be held accountable for the human rights violations of transnational corporations. Further, the author examines the possibility of pursuing claims under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute for torts committed in violation of international treaties as another avenue for enforcing human rights obligations.

Citation

(2007) Alberta Law Review 45 (2) pp. 443-56

Paper

Should or Must?: Nature of the Obligation of States to Use Trade Instruments for the Advancement of Environmental, Labour, and Other Human Rights

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Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change (M. Limon)

Author(s)

Marc Limon

Keywords

small island developing states, climate change, international human rights, obligations, accountability, global warming, vulnerable people

Abstract

In November 2007, Small Island Developing States, meeting in the Maldives, adopted the Male’ Declaration on the Human Dimension of Global Climate Change.’ The declaration laid down a roadmap for actions within the UN system designed to explore and draw attention to the relationship between global warming and the full enjoyment of human rights. In June 2009 the various steps foreseen in the Male’ Declaration reached their conclusion when the United Nations Human Rights Council (the Council or the Human Rights Council) held a dedicated interactive panel debate on the relationship between human rights and climate change during its Eleventh Session in June 2009.

The present time, therefore, offers an important opportunity to take stock of progress achieved since the Male’ Declaration was adopted, to assess the current situation, and to consider possible next steps. This Article will offer an assessment of what has been achieved by the rapidly evolving international agenda on human rights and climate change. It will do so by looking at how the international understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationship between climate change and human rights has evolved over the past one and a half years. This will entail an analysis of the degree to which the international community, through the process launched by the Male’ Declaration, has answered three crucial questions pertaining to the human rights climate change interface:

1. Is there a relationship between climate change and human rights, and if so, what is the nature of that relationship?

2. Does climate change constitute a violation of human rights, especially the rights of vulnerable people?

3. Irrespective of whether climate change represents a human rights violation, what are states’ national-level and international-level human rights obligations pertaining to climate change?

After assessing progress in addressing these three central questions, the Article will then move to propose possible next steps, on behalf of the international community, to further clarify the issues at hand and to transpose that understanding into actual mechanisms to better promote and protect human rights in the face of climate change.

This Article will focus solely on actions undertaken within the context of the United Nations Human Rights Council and related international human rights mechanisms. Although academia and non-governmental bodies have played a crucial role in the evolution of the human rights, climate change agenda, their contribution will not be covered here. Moreover, in analyzing progress, the Article will focus on the evolution of hard and soft law in the area, and not on the broader perceptional achievements of the human rights and climate change agenda. Notwithstanding this necessary (for reasons of space) omission, it is clear that such perceptional achievements (i.e., how seeing climate change through a human rights lens has changed the nature of the international conversation on the subject) have been extremely significant (and probably more so than legal achievements).

Citation

(2010) 38 Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law 543

Paper

Human Rights Obligations and Accountability in the Face of Change

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Human Rights and Environmental Regulation (R. M. Bratspies)

Author(s)

Rebecca M. Bratspies

Keywords

environment, regulation, BP Oil Spill, United States, US, legal obligations, participations, fairness, accountability, legitimacy

Abstract

Because environmental regulators exercise vast discretion against a background of scientific uncertainty, the background assumptions they use to guide their decisionmaking are particularly influential. This article suggests that were federal regulators to view themselves as human rights decisionmakers, we might well see a new kind of regulatory decisionmaking emerge–one not only more responsive and transparent but also more likely to enjoy the trust of the American public. Drawing from the BP Oil Spill and the United States regulatory response to climate change this article shows how human rights norms might enrich domestic regulatory processes and help environmental regulators implement their statutory mission of protecting the public welfare. It demonstrates how interpreting domestic legal obligations through the lens of human rights would enhance a commitment to participation, fairness and accountability, thereby making the domestic regulatory process not only better and fairer, but also more likely to be perceived as legitimate by the general public. The article concludes by pointing out some key obstacles the human rights approach for achieving environmental ends.

Citation

(2012) 19 New York University Environmental Law Journal 225.

Paper

Human Rights and Environmental Regulation

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The New Accountability: Environmental Responsibility Across Borders (M. Mason)

Author(s)

Michael Mason

Keywords

population, accountability, environmental protection, health, ecological sustainability, borders, international agreements, national territories, state responsibility, pollution, transnational corporations

Abstract

The growth of pollution that crosses national borders represents a significant threat to human health and ecological sustainability. Various international agreements exist between countries to reduce risks to their populations, however there is often a mismatch between national territories of state responsibility and transboundary hazards. All too often, state priorities do not correspond to the priorities of the people affected by pollution, who often have little recourse against major polluters, particularly transnational corporations operating across national boundaries. Drawing on case studies, The New Accountability provides a fresh understanding of democratic accountability for transboundary and global harm and argues that environmental responsibility should be established in open public discussions about harm and risk. Most critically it makes the case that, regardless of nationality, affected parties should be able to demand that polluters and harm producers be held accountable for their actions and if necessary provide reparations.

Citation

Michael Mason, The New Accountability: Environmental Responsibility Across Borders (Earthscan, 2005)

Book

The New Accountability: Environmental Responsibility Across Borders

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International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Environmental Security (M.A. Drumbl)

Author

Mark A. Drumbl (Washington & Lee University, USA)

Keywords

Environment, Armed conflict,International humanitarian law, International law, Criminal punishment

Abstract

Creating mechanisms to promote individual accountability has become a focal point of activity for international lawyers. This activity has, among other things, led to the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute innovates on both the procedural and substantive fronts. Along with creating an enforcement mechanism in the form of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Rome Statute also refines prior customary and conventional rules by providing a detailed list of what can prospectively be sanctioned as the “most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.” In this regard, the Rome Statute creates important linkages between human rights, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. But these linkages are far from complete. One area in which the Rome Statute is somewhat reticent relates to the environmental consequences of war and environmental crimes generally. This may in fact reflect a disjunction between international environmental law and humanitarian concerns. This gap should trouble international lawyers: just as armed conflict often creates a context in which the most serious human rights abuses occur, so too, does it create a similar context for the infliction of wanton and extensive destruction to the environment. Part II of this Article explores the insecurities caused by the environmental consequences of armed conflict. Part III examines the successes and failures of the international legal order in controlling these consequences and directs its focus on the ICC’s jurisdiction to prosecute environmental war crimes. Part IV argues that the ICC may not be particularly well-suited to sanction environmentally destructive behavior. Part V is proscriptive, sketching ways in which the promotion of environmental security can be made more effective. In the end, the effective promotion of environmental security requires a multifaceted approach that combines criminal prosecution, preventative measures, and specially tailored remedies.

Citation

(2000) 6 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 305

Paper

International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and Environmental Security: Can the International Criminal Court Bridge the Gaps?

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