Environmental Rights: Taking the Environment Seriously?
Gearty, Conor and Tomkins, Adam, eds (1996) Understanding human rights (Mansell Publishing Limited, London)
15 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2014
Date Written: 1996
This essay addresses some of the problems posed by the attempt to take a rights-based approach to environmental protection. First, it critiques the basis of reasoning involved in two distinct approaches to environmental rights. The first approach argues for a human centred right to the environment, and the second takes a holistic approach, claiming rights on behalf of the non-human world, on behalf of animals and rocks and trees. This essay argues that neither of these views is coherent, although there may be some value in seeking to extend due process rights.
However, the essay also goes on to argue that, regardless of the internal contradictions associated with each of the views, these two different concepts of rights are in any case mutually irreconcilable and that it may be damaging to the environment to proceed on the basis of such radically different reasoning about rights. In brief, current reasoning about rights does not take the environment seriously.
Keywords: environment, environmental law, human rights, moral philosophy, jurisprudence, legal theory, international law
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