Tag Archives: Right to a healthy environment

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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Human Rights, Environmental Rights, and the Right to Environment (D.Shelton)

Author

Dinah Shelton

Keywords

International Human Rights Law, International Environmental Policy, Right to a Healthy Environment

Excerpt

The following discussion addresses some of the questions and problems posed by international efforts to protect both human rights and the environment. The fundamental issue is whether international human rights law can contribute to environmental protection, or conversely, whether international environmental policies can serve human rights concerns. First, this article discusses the objectives of human rights and international environmental law, revealing their different but overlapping characters. Second, the article analyzes the three alternative approaches to human rights and environmental protection […]. While each approach finds some support in international practice and has its adherents, no one approach has emerged as dominant or has even been fully articulated. Although clear trends remain difficult to identify in this new and rapidly evolving field, the recent development of a number of national and regional international texts which speak of a right to environment suggest that the third approach now plays a leading role. As it emerges, this approach should acknowledge the similarities and differences of environmental and human rights objectives, recognizing the danger that a broadly defined right to environment may ignore the very real differences which exist between the field of environmental protection and that of human rights.

In conclusion, this article will suggest that although human rights and environmental protection represent separate social values, the overlapping relationship between them can be resolved in a manner which will further both sets of objectives. A clearly and narrowly defined international human right to a safe and healthy environment, currently emerging in international law, can contribute to this goal.

Citation

(1991) 28 Stanford Journal of International Law 103

Paper

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The Human Right to the Environment as a Substantive Right (M. Pallemaerts)

Author(s)

Marc Pallemaerts

Keywords

Human Rights, Right to a Healthy Environment, International Law, European Law, Substantive Right

Excerpt

The purpose of this introductory essay is to examine to what extent the existence of an individual right to a healthy environment is recognised under international law and, in so far as it is, what is the substantive content of such a right. To this end, we shall review relevant international instruments of a global as well as regional nature, both legally binding and non-binding, which address the relationship between environmental protection and human rights.

Citation

(2002) in Human Rights and the Environment: Compendium of instruments and other international texts on individual and collective rights relating to the environment and the international and European framework, Maguelonne Déjeant-Pons and Marc Pallemaerts, 11-21 (Germany: Council of Europe Publishing)

Paper

The Human Right to the Environment as a Substantive Right

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

Author(s)

James T. McClymonds

Keywords

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

Abstract

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.

Citation

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

Paper

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

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The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment (D. Boyd)

Author(s)

David R. Boyd

Keywords

Right to a healthy environment, environmental rights, environmental protection

Abstract

The right to a healthy environment has been the subject of extensive philosophical debates that revolve around a key question: Should rights to clean air, water, and soil be entrenched in law, in the constitutions of democratic states?

In The Environmental Rights Revolution, David Boyd, one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers, answers this question by moving beyond theoretical debate to measure the practical effects of enshrining the right to a healthy environment in constitutions. His analysis of 193 constitutions and the laws and court decisions of more than 100 nations shows how the constitutional right to a healthy environment has been incorporated in legislation and is being judicially enforced in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Nations with constitutional protections have stronger environmental laws, enhanced enforcement, greater government accountability, and better access to justice, information, and public participation in decision making than nations without such provisions. As a result, they also have smaller ecological footprints, rank higher on comprehensive indices of environmental performance, and have reduced pollution faster.

This important and timely book not only demonstrates that enshrining environmental protection into national constitutions has the power to make sustainability a priority, it tells inspiring stories about the difference the right to a healthy environment is making in people’s lives.

Citation

The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment (UBC Press, 2012)

Paper

The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment

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