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Protecting Environmental Rights Through the Bilateral Agreements of the European Union: Mapping the Field

20 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2013  

Elisa Morgera

Strathclyde Law School; University of Edinburgh

Date Written: June 2, 2013


The present paper aims to map existing and future opportunities for utilizing EU bilateral agreements to promote the protection of environmental rights, as well as available legal avenues to address missed opportunities and possible risks that EU environmental action abroad may negatively impact on environmental rights in third countries. It starts with a brief overview of the external environmental policy of the EU, including constitutional requirements to couple human rights and environmental protection in external relations and an introduction to the practice of EU bilateral agreements. The chapter will then provide a snapshot of the environment-and-human-rights connection in EU law from an internal perspective, to demonstrate the political sensitivity of the issue. Against this background, the central part of the paper will identify six thematic areas in which entry points for the protection of environmental rights exist in the framework of EU bilateral agreements. The final section will offer a preliminary reflection of the human rights risks of current environmental external relations of the Union and possible avenues to tackle these risks in EU and international law.

Keywords: EU external relations, EU environmental policy, environmental rights, EU agreements, climate change, biodiversity, forest, traditional knowledge, corporate accountability

Suggested Citation

Morgera, Elisa, Protecting Environmental Rights Through the Bilateral Agreements of the European Union: Mapping the Field (June 2, 2013). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2013/23. Available at SSRN: or

Elisa Morgera (Contact Author)

Strathclyde Law School ( email )

Lord Hope Building
141 St James Rd
Glasgow 1XQ, Scotland
United Kingdom


University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom


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