Human Dignity and Environmental Outcomes in Pakistan
Pakistan Law Review, v. 10, 2019
28 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2020
Date Written: 2019
Pakistan is one of the few countries worldwide whose Constitution does not explicitly address the environment. The higher courts have filled the vacuum by turning to the constitutional right to dignity, which the Constitution says is ‘inviolable’, as the basis for improving environmental outcomes to water, sanitation, and a stable climate, to name a few. This paper hazards an explanation as to the judicial reasoning behind this development. It posits that Pakistan takes the idea of dignity under law so seriously as to embrace environmental matters. In recent years, the courts have increasingly recognised the links between environmental protection and the enjoyment of human rights, including in particular, the human right to dignity. This article maintains that this is a positive development. As a conceptual matter, attention to human dignity foregrounds the impacts on human beings of environmental decisions, including decisions that contribute towards addressing climate change issues. It requires courts to address the ways in which those decisions diminish the ability of people to manage their own lives, often in ways that disproportionately affect those who are already the most vulnerable and marginalised.
Keywords: environmental law, right to dignity, constitutional law, human rights, environmental protection, Pakistan
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation