Human Rights and Sustainability

To live in dignity, all human being needs a healthy environment. A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is thus integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. Increasingly, the intertwine between human rights and the environment is being acknowledged and recognised.

Routledge series of Sustainability recently publish an edited volume entitled Human Rights and Sustainability: Moral responsibilities for the future. The editors of this book, Gerhard Bos, Marcus Düwell, develop the idea of environmental obligations as long-term responsibilities in the context of human rights. The book proposes that human rights require recognition that, in the face of unsustainable conduct, future human persons are exposed and vulnerable. In doing so, the authors explore the obstacles for long-term responsibilities that human rights law provides at the level of international and national law, and scrutinise the question of whether lifestyle restrictions are enforceable in view of liberties human rights.

Some chapters that might be of interest are:

  • International Human Rights and Duties to Future Generations: The Role of an International Constitution. Stephen Riley
  • A Chain of Status: Long-term Responsibility in the Context of Human Rights. Gerhard Bos
  • Human Rights as a Normative Guideline for Climate Policy. Michael Reder and Lukas Köhler
  • On Current Food Consumption and Future Generations: Is There a Moral Need to Change our Food Consumption in Order to Safeguard the Human Rights of Future Generations? Franck L.B. Meijboom
  • The Institutional Representation of Future Generations. Sandor Fulop

On a similar subject, a recent edition of the Oslo Law Review contains a publication on Legal Pluralism, Human Rights and the Idea of Climate Justice, by Aled Dilwyn Fisher. The article can be downloaded here.

Approaching the subject from a governance perspective, a chapter published by Laura Horn entitled Human Rights and International Environmental Governance is certainly worth reading. The chapter considers the failure of the international legal system to provide adequate mechanisms for global environmental governance. It also discusses some proposals for change to environmental government from existing institutions, by focusing on a possibility for an international human rights to a healthy environment.

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