Human Rights and the Evolution of Global Environmental Law

Subhram Rajkhowa and Stuti Deka, eds., Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, vol. 2. Eastern Book House, Guwahati, India, 2013

U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-66

16 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2012

See all articles by Robert V. Percival

Robert V. Percival

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Environmental problems that jeopardize the health of humans increasingly implicate concerns that have played an important role in the development of international human rights. While some have questioned the wisdom or effectiveness of focusing human rights concerns on environmental problems, it seems an inevitable response to the failure of many countries to protect their citizens adequately from harm caused by environmental degradation. This paper reviews efforts to apply human rights concerns to environmental problems. It describes how these developments illustrate the growth of a kind of “global environmental law” that blurs traditional distinctions between domestic and international law and public and private law. It explores how principles of human rights are influencing the evolution of global environmental law with particular emphasis on the emerging right of humans to access adequate supplies of safe water.

The chapter concludes that environmental standards can be expected to improve significantly in the developing world as countries devote greater effort to upgrading their legal and technological infrastructures to prevent environmental harm. Although the growing global recognition of human rights to a clean and healthy environment is encouraging, full achievement of its promise must depend for the immediate future on the development of enforceable domestic laws. Yet as governments and environmental NGOs increasingly coordinate their efforts through global networks, global environmental law will continue to evolve to promote a healthier planet with greater respect for human rights.

Keywords: environmental concerns, environmental standards, human rights, international law

Suggested Citation

Percival, Robert V., Human Rights and the Evolution of Global Environmental Law (2013). Subhram Rajkhowa and Stuti Deka, eds., Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, vol. 2. Eastern Book House, Guwahati, India, 2013; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-66. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2171845

Robert V. Percival (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

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