Tag Archives: environmental crisis

The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: An International Legal Perspective (McClymounds)


James T. McClymonds


international human rights, right to a healthy environment, environmental crisis, international environmental law, state sovereignty, human values, environmental protection, development practices


This note examines the development of the international human right to a healthy environment by both determining the extent to which the right has emerged in recent years and by outlining the scope and content of the right as it has emerged. In the first section, the mounting environmental crisis and its effects on human values are described. The second section explores the extent to which explicit recognition of the right to a healthy environment has emerged as a binding international legal principle. The emerging right to development and current developments regarding the principle of state sovereignty are explored as well. In the third section, current international environmental law is examined to glean the emerging principles that define the scope and content of the right. This note concludes in the fourth section by suggesting that although several important elements of the right have emerged under international law, other critical elements have not-particularly those relating to effective implementation and the individual’s ability to bring claims. In addition, this note argues that ultimately the countervailing right to development does not present an obstacle to the emergence of the right to a healthy environment because the growing awareness of the interrelationship between development and ecological health has already led to the incorporation of environmental-protection policies into development practices. Rather, the unwillingness of governments to concede sovereign authority presents the greatest barrier to the growth of the right. Until nation-states are willing to relinquish some measure of state sovereignty, the right to a healthy environment will remain unrealized.


(1992) 37 New York Law School Law Review 583.


The Human Right to a Healthy Environment: An International Legal Perspective


Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental & Social Justice (P. Hossay)


Patrick Hossay


Unsustainable, environmental crisis, human and social crisis, poverty, inequality, capitalist development, industrial growth, environmental policies, sustainable, socially just, development, free-market forces, corporate-centred globalization, international institutions, global order


Unsustainable explains the double bind in which humanity now finds itself – an excalating environmental crisis, and a worsening human and social crisis of poverty and inequality. The author explains how these twin crises share the same historical roots. Brilliantly combining a huge amount of up-to-date information, visual charts, and clear explanation, he shows step by step how a particular historical path of colonialism, capitalist development and industrial growth has got us into this mess.

He shows how current attempts to develop effective environmental policies and to promote sustainable and socially just development internationally are being stymied by free-market forces, corporate-centred globalization, and the policies and actions of key international institutions.

The very structure of our global order is unsustainable. The are no simple answers. Changing our own behaviour is important, but fundamentally inadequate. Only, Hossay argues, a fundamental restructuring of the way we do business will save us from environmental and human catastrophe. And he suggests ways in which we can work for such changes.


Patrick Hossay, Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental and Social Justice (Zed Books, 2005)


Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environmental and Social Justice