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Human Rights, Environmental Justice, and the North-South Divide

RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT (Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotze, eds.) Edward Elgar, 2015

Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 16-18

41 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2016 Last revised: 4 Oct 2016

Carmen G. Gonzalez

Seattle University School of Law

Abstract

Communities disparately burdened by environmental degradation are increasingly framing their demands for environmental justice in the language of environmental human rights. However, some scholars have expressed skepticism about the environmental human rights project. First, they remind us that the human rights governance capacity of many states in the global South has been compromised by the neoliberal economic reforms imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as well as by trade and investment agreements. Second, they question the ability of human rights law to adequately articulate and advance the aspirations and resistance strategies of diverse grassroots social justice movements, and warn us about the susceptibility of human rights law to co-optation by powerful Northern states. This chapter examines the promise and the peril of environmental human rights as a means of challenging environmental injustice within nations and the North-South dimension of environmental injustice.

Keywords: human rights, right to a healthy environment, environmental justice, Third World Approaches to International Law, TWAIL, North-South divide, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, colonialism, development, transnational corporations, Maastricht principles, extraterritoriality

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K190, N05, O13, O19, Q01, Q56

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Carmen G., Human Rights, Environmental Justice, and the North-South Divide. RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT (Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotze, eds.) Edward Elgar, 2015; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 16-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2723460 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2723460

Carmen Gonzalez (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

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