Contribution of the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights to Sustainable Development in Europe
W. Scholtz, J. Verschuuren (ed.), Regional Integration and Sustainable Development in a Globalised World (Edward Elgar Publishers, 2014), Forthcoming
15 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 6, 2013
This paper addresses the question in how far the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), through its case law on the human rights laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), has contributed to regional integration and sustainable development. Even without the recognition of an explicit right to environment in the ECHR, the Court rendered an impressive range of judgments in environmental cases through which it established a continent wide safety net protecting all Europeans against severe environmental pollution and through which it forces the authorities in 47 states to offer their citizens and NGOs procedural rights whenever the environment is at stake, assess the impact on the environment of their decisions, implement and enforce existing standards, and carry out domestic court rulings. The ECtHR case law did not lead to a harmonization of environmental standards across Europe, nor to the adoption of progressive environmental policies. For Europe, therefore, it seems that the EU’s approach towards sustainable development is a more promising road to travel. The EU’s impact on the environment has been far greater. Accession of more European states to the EU can, therefore, be considered a more fruitful approach to achieve sustainable development across the continent than relying on further expansion of the work of the ECtHR, for instance through the adoption of a specific right to a healthy or safe environment within the ECHR.
Keywords: human rights, access to justice, right to life, right to family life
JEL Classification: K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation