European Environmental Human Rights and Environmental Rights: A Long Time Coming?
50 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2008 Last revised: 27 Mar 2014
Date Written: December 30, 2008
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.
Keywords: Human rights, environmental rights, environment, Europe
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