IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal, Vol. 1, 2011
14 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 21, 2011
This essay provides an overview of the worldwide phenomenon of constitutional environmental rights. Since the Stockholm Convention, nearly 60 countries have constitutionally entrenched environmental rights, according their citizens basic rights to environmental quality in one form or another. The list is diverse politically, including countries with civil, common law, Islamic, and other traditions. Some of the more recent of these include Kenya in 2010, Ecuador in 2007, France in 2005, Afghanistan in 2004, and South Africa in 1996.
As a result, domestic courts and international tribunals are enforcing constitutionally enshrined environmental rights with growing frequency, reflecting basic human rights to clean water, air, land, and environmental opportunity. Courts have even read environmental rights into constitutions that do not explicitly mention them or where judicial enforcement has been nominally withdrawn. Courts in Southern Asia have led the way, inferring environmental rights from other constitutionally entrenched rights, most commonly a “right to life.” This trend has been most notable in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal where such rights have been read in tandem with directive principles aimed at promoting environmental policy to embody substantive environmental rights.
As we shall see, constitutionally embedded rights are both fairly ubiquitous in form, and fairly challenging in function.
Keywords: Environmental Law, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Environmental Rights
JEL Classification: K21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
May, James and Daly, Erin, New Directions in Earth Rights, Environmental Rights and Human Rights: Six Facets of Constitutionally Embedded Environmental Rights Worldwide (February 21, 2011). IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal, Vol. 1, 2011; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1766085