Constructing the Human Right to a Healthy Environment

Posted: 19 Oct 2020

See all articles by John H. Knox

John H. Knox

Wake Forest University - School of Law

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Date Written: October 1, 2020


Despite the absence of a right to a healthy environment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or any global human rights treaty, environmental human rights law has rapidly developed over the past 25 years along three paths: (a) the widespread adoption of environmental rights in regional treaties and national constitutions; (b) the greening of other human rights, such as the rights to life and health, through their application to environmental issues; and (c) the inclusion in multilateral environmental instruments of rights of access to information, public participation, and access to justice. After describing these developments, this review assesses the possible effects of UN recognition of the human right to a healthy environment, both on the environment and on human rights law itself.

Suggested Citation

Knox, John H., Constructing the Human Right to a Healthy Environment (October 1, 2020). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 16, pp. 79-95, 2020, Available at SSRN: or

John H. Knox (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

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