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Human rights and environmental wrongs : achieving environmental justice through human rights law

Lewis, Bridget (2012) Human rights and environmental wrongs : achieving environmental justice through human rights law. International Journal for Crime and Justice, 1(1), pp. 65-73.

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Abstract

The numerous interconnections between the environment and human rights are well established internationally. It is understood that environmental issues such as pollution, deforestation or the misuse of resources can impact on individuals’ and communities’enjoyment of fundamental rights, including the right to health, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to self‐determination and the right to life itself. These are rights which are guaranteed under international human rights law and in relation to which governments bear certain responsibilities. Further, environmental issues can also impact on governments’ capacity to protect and fulfil the rights of their citizens. In this way human rights and environmental protection can be constructed as being mutually supportive. In addition to these links between the environment and human rights, human rights principles arguably offer a framework for identifying and addressing environmental injustice. The justice implications of environmental problems are well documented and there are many examples where pollution, deforestation or other degradation disproportionately impact upon poorer neighbourhoods or areas populated by minority groups. On the international level, environmental injustice exists between developed and developing States, as well as between present and future generations who will inherit the environmental problems we are creating today. This paper investigates the role of human rights principles, laws and mechanisms in addressing these instances of environmental injustice and argues that the framework of human rights norms provides an approach to environmental governance which can help to minimise injustice and promote the interests of those groups which are most adversely affected. Further, it suggests that the human rights enforcement mechanisms which exist at international law could be utilised to lend weight to claims for more equitable environmental policies.

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ID Code: 54518
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Environmental and Natural Resources Law (180111)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Human Rights Law (180114)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Human Rights and Justice Issues (220104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > PHILOSOPHY (220300) > Environmental Philosophy (220303)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 QUT
Deposited On: 02 Nov 2012 07:47
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2012 15:12

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