"European Environmental Human Rights and Environmental Rights: A Long Time Coming?"

Ole W. Pedersen, a colleague of mine here in Aberdeen has posted European Environmental Human Rights and Environmental Rights: A Long Time Coming?, forthcoming in the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review.

There is an interesting connection between on the one hand antiquities and material remains of our past and also the natural environment which gave rise to ancient cultures and civilizations. As such, there is a largely-untapped body of environmental jurisprudence which may prove of use for cultural heritage scholars. One approach may be to look to a kind of “right to culture”, however the difficulty scholars have had in creating a substantive right to the environment may pose some potential obstacles to such an approach.

Here is the abstract:

This paper deals with the area of rights and environmental law focusing on procedural environmental rights and substantive human rights to the environment in a European context. The paper asserts that while international developments in this area have generally ceased, two strong trends are emerging in Europe. First, a strong focus on procedural environmental rights (a right to access to environmental information, a right to public participation and a right to access to justice) is in place in Europe. This part of the paper is based on an analysis of a number of European legal instruments and regimes, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the case law from the European Court of Human Rights, the 1998 UNECE Aarhus Convention as well as environmental law and policy from the European Community. It is argued that the strong focus on these procedural rights in Europe have led to such norms reaching a level regional customary law with the potential to influence international legal developments. In relation to a substantive human right to the environment, which the paper argues is currently lacking on the international level, it is argued that recent tentative approaches on a European regional level to a substantive right may further add to the precarious status of a substantive right under international law. Here, European developments have the potential to add to other regional instruments in, for instance, Africa and Latin and Southern America. In addition, recent constitutional changes in domestic European law has led to a wide range of national constitutions containing provisions on a right to the environment, which again have the potential to add further weight to the development of an international right.


Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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