Tag Archives: colonialism

Environmental Justice, Human Rights, and the Global South (C. G. Gonzalez)

Author(s)

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Keywords

human rights, right to a healthy environment, environmental justice, Third World Approaches to International Law, TWAIL, North-South divide, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, colonialism, development, transnational corporations, Maastricht principles, extraterritoriality

Abstract

From the Ogoni people devastated by oil drilling in Nigeria to the Inuit and other indigenous populations threatened by climate change, communities disparately burdened by environmental degradation are increasingly framing their demands for environmental justice in the language of environmental human rights. Domestic and international tribunals have concluded that failure to protect the environment violates a variety of human rights (including the rights to life, health, food, water, property, and privacy; the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and resources; and the right to a healthy environment).

Some scholars have questioned the utility of the human rights framework given the diminished governance capacity of many Third World states due to decades of intervention by international financial institutions and restrictions imposed by trade and investment agreements. Others have expressed doubts about the ability of human rights law to adequately articulate and advance the aspirations and resistance strategies of diverse grassroots social justice movements, and have warned about the susceptibility of human rights law and discourse to co-optation by powerful states to advance their own economic and political interests (for example, through “humanitarian intervention” in Third World states).

This article examines the promise and the peril of environmental human rights as a means of challenging environmental injustice within nations as well as the North-South dimension of environmental injustice. Drawing a distinction between human rights discourse as a tool of popular mobilization and human rights law as codified in legal instruments and enforced by international institutions, the article examines some of the limitations of human rights law as an instrument of resistance to environmental injustice and offers several strategies to enhance its emancipatory potential.

Citation

(2015) 13 Santa Clara Journal of International Law 151

Paper

Environmental Justice, Human Rights, and the Global South

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Environmental Justice and International Environmental Law (Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen G Gonzalez

Keywords

Environmental justice, sustainable development, equity, ethics, colonialism, post-colonialism, special and differential treatment, common but differentiated responsibility, ecological debt, climate change, human rights, environmental human rights, Aarhus Convention, transnational corporations

Abstract

Environmental justice lies at the heart of many environmental disputes between the global North and the global South as well as grassroots environmental struggles within nations. However, the discourse of international environmental law is often ahistorical and technocratic. It neither educates the North about its inordinate contribution to global environmental problems nor provides an adequate response to the concerns of nations and communities disproportionately burdened by poverty and environmental degradation. This article examines some of the root causes of environmental injustice among and within nations from the colonial period to the present, and discusses several strategies that can be used to integrate environmental justice into the broader corpus of international law so as to promote social and economic justice while protecting the planet’s natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Citation

Shawkat Alam, Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan, Tareq M R Chowdhury, Erika Techera (eds.),ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (Routledge, 2013); Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 12-11.

Publication

Environmental Justice and International Environmental Law

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Climate justice: the claim of the past (S.J. Humphreys)

Author

Stephen. J. Humphreys

Keywords

Climate justice, rule of law, trade law, human rights, colonialism, globalization, Walter Benjamin

Abstract

This synthetic appraisal of the collection of papers in this issue argues that historical injustice saturates the problem of climate change. Those most vulnerable to climate change today are largely those who already lack resources – who have been on the wrong end of colonial history, or who have been globalization’s losers, or who have suffered neglect, exclusion or simple rapacity at the hands of their own governments. They are those who have benefitted little or not at all from a carbon-intensive global economy, but who have long suffered its side effects – resource stripping, food price spikes, impoverishment and now the ravages of climate change. Following the other authors in this issue – and examining human rights law, trade law and the overarching ideal of the rule of law – the paper notes that the particular form taken by law in international and transnational affairs, having largely followed the historical progress of industrialism, colonialism and globalization, is peculiarly ill-suited to the task of addressing this vulnerability.

Citation

(2014) 0 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 134-148

Publication

Climate justice: the claim of the past

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Seasons of Resistance: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Cuba (C.G. Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen G. Gonzalez (Seattle University, USA)

Keywords

Sustainability, comparative law, Cuba, food security, agricultural policy, trade policy, environmental law, agricultural law, political economy, colonialism, post-colonial studies

Abstract

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Cuba embarked upon a transformation of the agricultural sector that has been hailed by some observers as a model of socially equitable and ecologically sustainable agriculture. Cuba shifted from an export-oriented, chemical-intensive agricultural development strategy to one that promoted organic agriculture and encouraged production for the domestic market.

This article places Cuba’s agricultural reforms in historical context by examining the evolution of Cuban agriculture from the colonial period until the present through the lens of food security and ecological sustainability. The article argues that Cuba, for most of its history, was food insecure and ecologically compromised as a consequence of its dependence on one agricultural commodity (sugar) to generate the bulk of foreign exchange revenues, its reliance on imports to satisfy domestic food needs, its dependence on one primary trading partner (initially Spain, subsequently the United States and the Soviet Union), and its adoption of capital-intensive, chemical-dependent agricultural production techniques. When the collapse of the socialist trading bloc in 1990 plunged the Cuba economy into a state of crisis, the Cuban government implemented as series of reforms that diversified Cuba’s economic base, diversified the range of crops cultivated, prioritized domestic food production, and promoted organic and semi-organic farming techniques. The article concludes that these reforms enhanced food security and ecological sustainability, but questions whether they will survive the lifting of the U.S. economic embargo and the reintegration of Cuba into global trade and financial institutions.

Citation

(2003) 16 Tulane Environmental Law Journal 685

Paper

Seasons of Resistance: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Cuba

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Markets, Monocultures, and Malnutrition: Agricultural Trade Policy Through an Environmental Justice Lens (C.G. Gonzalez)

Author

Carmen C. Gonzalez (Seattle University, USA)

Keywords

WTO, environmental justice, trade policy, IMF, World Bank, structural adjustment, international law, trade law, environmental law, development law, food security, agricultural law, human rights law

Abstract

The article posits that environmental justice must be understood to encompass equitable access to environmental necessities (such as food and water) as well as the minimization and equitable distribution of environmental hazards. Based upon this conception of environmental justice, the article examines the complex ways in which the rules governing international trade in agricultural products affect the fundamental human right to food. The article argues that colonialism and post-colonial trade, aid and development policies have created and institutionalized a double standard in the regulatory regime governing international agricultural trade: protectionism in wealthy, developed countries; trade liberalization in poor, developing countries. As a consequence of this double standard, agribusiness in the developed world is wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of poor farmers in the developing world by dumping agricultural products on world markets at depressed prices. “Leveling the playing field” by imposing the same free market reforms on rich and poor nations is not sufficient to address the underlying structural inequities that perpetuate poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation. The article proposes an asymmetrical set of trading rules that would require developed countries to eliminate agricultural protectionism while giving developing countries the policy flexibility to use certain protectionist instruments to promote economic development, enhance food security, and protect the environment. The article concludes with observations about the meaning of environmental justice at the international level.

Citation

(2006) 14 Michigan State University College of Law Journal of International Law 345

Paper

Markets, Monocultures, and Malnutrition: Agricultural Trade Policy Through an Environmental Justice Lens

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