HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISM: TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
[Vol 1/ Issue 3/ Oct 2015] [ISSN 2394-9295]
Dr. Meenu Gupta
Amity Law School, Noida
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Right from the birth, one should get unpolluted air to breath, uncontaminated water to drink, nutritious food to eat, and hygienic place to live in. These parts are essential for the growth of the human development. In spite of knowing this, man hardly ever put an effort to protect the environment or to conserve the same; either because of lack of ability to improve or change it or because of his ignorance towards it. The government organization too, had paid the stinginess regard for it. Through this paper the author has tried to establish the link between the human rights and environment which is necessary for a basic human growth. As civilizations progressed, the utilization and exploitations of natural resources for development purposes has been increased. In the name of development and progress environment is being adversely affected day by day. However, such developments have been adversely affecting the world‟s natural resources and environment. These actions have placed humans in center and overlooked the principles of preservation, protection and conservation of the natural environment. The situation is further getting worse by technological and industrial developments, economic progress and over-population. This paper focuses on the relationship between environmental degradation and human rights abuses, on the evolution and recognition of the human right to a healthy environment. Moreover, the concept of sustainable development which has been largely ignored until now is coming into the arena in order to protect the environment and thus, human right. This would certainly lead us beyond the conflict of human rights and protection of environment.
Keywords: Human Rights, Environmental Law, Pollution, Natural Resources, Environmental Degradation.
“It is our collective and individual responsibility…to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live.”
– Dalai Lama XIV
Environmental pollution is one of the serious threats before the world Degradation of environment. Deprivation in environment has been considered as a wide range of problems before the mankind. Areas of human inhabitation as well as the without human inhabitant are facing the same problem.
The number of problem emerging out from the environmental pollution has been increasing with time. Human beings are the biggest factors in damaging the environment which ultimately results in a violation of human rights.
Pollution has caused more than a million death and many diseases. Around the world people are facing declining of ecosystem which includes, natural disaster due to deforestation, shortage of water and unsafe management, fisheries depletion and. All these are attributed to the pollution only. Chloro-floro carbons from refrigerated products has also led in emerging the green house effect and ozone layer depletions and human beings are directly exposed to harmful ultra violet radiations and ultimately results in the climate change. It also gives an indirect impact on the new born child and to the fetus. Emissions from factories and cars are affecting people destructively. The need of industry is causing depletion of forest and humans to suffer. Emission of toxic waste goes directly into river thus polluting the natural water of the world. Waste and garbage disposal from homes have created a big problem and creating the water pollution. Over-grazing of land is causing soil erosion. These facts articulately shows that the effect of the environment degradation on human health, which results in enjoyment of human rights in a limited sense.
Thus, Human being is facing constant struggle to live every day. The disputes which have arisen largely related to the over population, increased consumerism, inadequate planning and over utilization of natural resources reducing their regenerative ability.
In such a situation, the rights of a human will definitely get volatile. To overcome from this problem, international and national organizations have incorporated fundamental rights and basic human rights and granted a mechanism of Judiciary through which these rights can be implemented. Surprisingly, the disputes which are coming to the courts have involved the major conflict between the person‘s fundamental right to life, freedom of business and trade , property and the environment. The main reason behind the environmental degradation is the development in every country. As a result, there has been a growing need for recognition of environmental human rights in many cases.
Legal regimes have fallen short of creating any environmental rights. A very less has been done till date in reference to the protecting environment but beginning has been made as certain aspirations have taken a legislative and constitutional form. But we still need to cover miles in making realizing the world the importance of conserving the environment for the sake of humanity. Although the human rights to a healthy environment has been promoted internationally for over twenty-five years now but it is not binding on the states. Only few of them have given it in a shape of legislation in their country. To put forward right to environment in all over the world is still too far but this eco-centric approach will bring the solution of the debate i.e. human being‘s right to development and a right to environment.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
All human beings depend upon the environment in which we live. The right to live in a clean safe and sustainable environment is always linked with the enjoyment of the wide range of human rights. A healthy environment which is essential for the well being of the human being is an essential ingredient of right to life. Environmental law is conceptualized as giving a protection that would help to ensure the well-being of future generations as well as survival of those who depends immediately upon natural resources for their livelihood. There has been increase of legal claims for both the human rights and environmental protection which clearly shows us the link between the human right and Importance of relationship between two spheres.
Traditionally speaking, human rights and environment law have been considered as two distinct entities. However, in recent years the recognition of the links between the human rights and the environment has been greatly increased. There are number of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions and academic studies which give us the reflection of the clear linkage between the environment and the human rights. After 1970‘s people have started linking between the human rights and the environment.
LINKING HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
International concern for the protection, preservation and improvement of environment became pronounced only in past several decades. In the context of transnational world, where economic globalization is expanding, any act or omission by one country will adversely affect the national environment of another country and in consequence impinge on the global environment. The problem of environmental pollution has created a terror in all the nations which let the nations to shed their attitudes and become conscious about the dangers of further avoidance of environment. Prior to the year 1972 the world has not faced any commotion about the protection of environment, balanced ecology and the prevention of pollution. However, the concern regarding these matters alarmed the world when it realized that the over industrialization is cursing the environment. The treasures of nature having been depleted day in day out, apprehensions became enlarged that human life was being in degrees cut short by the filth the people were being put to inhale and ingest. This issue doesn t have any national, frontier and racial boundaries but it‘s a worldwide concern. All the international leaders consented that the if issues of disarmament, peace and economic equations can be argued and settled at the international level so why the world could not come together on the damage which is being done to the environment. They also alerted that the all countries should take appropriate measures at their own level to protect the environment. Earlier, there was no major international effort to tackle the environmental problem. Although there were several international legislations, agencies and specialized organs in the worldwide dealing with environmental issues which are still in operation. Some of these are:
- The Nuclear Weapons Tests Ban Treaty of 1963.
- The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America of 1967.
- The Treaty Laying Down the Principle Governing Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space Including the Moon and Celestial Bodies of 1976
- The Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1968
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons on the Seabed, Ocean Floor and Subsoil thereof 1971.
Often these have seemed to develop in isolation from one another. Yet one can see the relations between the human rights and environment protection from the first international conference held in 1972, in Stockholm.
THE STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE, 1972
Indeed, health is the prime concern in both the fields i.e. environmental protection and human rights. The Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm from 5th June to 16th June considered the need to inspire and channel the people all over the world to conserve and improve the human environment. The 1972 Stockholm conference had the effect of initiating worldwide participation and participating in creating the awareness to preserve the environment from further damage. It proclaims that:
―Man is both creature and moulder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, man has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. Both aspects of man‘s environment, the natural and the manmade, are essential to his wellbeing and to the enjoyment of basic human rights to right to life itself.
Therefore, it called upon the government and common people from all over the world to put the efforts on the preservation and improvement of the natural environment. The Right to Healthy Environment has been clearly mentioned in this international environmental law documentation. The declaration of the conference was divided into two parts besides the preamble. The first part had declared the seven truths about the man in relation of the environment and the second part had laid down the twenty-six principles which are known as the Magna Carta on human environment. The following principles out of the twenty-six are significant:
- Man has the fundamental right to live in a good quality of environment that permits a life of dignity and well being, and bear a responsibility and improve the environment for present and future generations.
- Natural resources of the earth including air, water, land, flora and fauna must be safeguarded through proper management and implementations of policies for the present and future generations.
- State shall take all possible steps to prevent the water pollution especially pollution of seas by substance that are danger to the human and marine life.
- State have the sovereign right to exploit their own environmental policies and the responsibility to ensure that the activities within their jurisdictions do not cause any damage to the environment of the other state or of areas beyond the limits of natural jurisdiction.
- State shall co operate to develop the international law regarding the liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damages caused by the activities within the jurisdiction or control such states to areas beyond the jurisdiction.
The Stockholm Conference is significant for one thing, i.e. it was active in focusing world‘s attention on the environmental crises and also in giving impetus to international cooperation. The Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment has set out the global strategies for environment protection.
These principles are even relevant today as they were in 1972.
THE RIO CONFERENCE, 1992
The second landmark event in the process of the evolution of the development of international concern for global environment was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held at Rio (Brazil) from 3 to 14 June 1992 to confront the twin problem of environment and development. The conference is known as Rio Summit. 178 nations were involved to save the planet earth from the environmental degradation. In terms of numbers, it was one of the largest meetings ever held. The Conference was of great importance for its fivefold contribution to the international efforts to combat global environmental problems. The conference resulted in the conclusion of treaty of climate change and curbing the green house gases. There was the most important ―Rio Declaration , a nonbinding set of 27 principles that deals with the rights and responsibilities of nation of the earth relating environment and development. The Rio Declaration embodies guidelines for the political agenda of both developed and developing countries.
Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration says that the focus should be on human beings, they are entitled to live human life with dignity of concern for sustainable development. These declarations and principles are based on the right-based approach which is new in the context of international environmental law. This approach is directly link to the Stockholm Declaration that for the exercise of the international- guaranteed human rights like the right to life and heath, environmental protection is necessary. Human lives are endangered by the continuous exposures to deforestation, toxic chemicals, hazardous waste, contaminated drinking water and the list is endless. Level of environmental degradation helps the country to find out the scope which people enjoy their basic rights to life, health, hygienic food, uncontaminated water, and housing and exercise the culture. Once the environment get polluted beyond the reach of repairing it then it will be very difficult to bring back to its original position again. Thus, abuse of human rights. Those who pollute and destroy the environment, are not just committing a crime against nature, but are violating human rights as well.
The second rights-based approach focuses on human rights as an essential element to achieving environmental protection instead of considering environmental protection as an essential of human right. So this approach is other war round to the first approach. It made a link between human rights and environment in procedural terms. Principle 10 says that a public participation, judicial and administrative proceeding, redress and remedy public participation, should be guaranteed because environmental issues can be best solved when there is large number of public contribution. Thus this approach is in procedural terms for better environmental-decision and enforcement. Most of the treaties explicitly say about healthy, safe and clean environment which establish a clear link between environmental protection and human health.
Thus, Rio earth summit focused on the well being of the human being and harmony with the nature. It came to the common point that the countries should forget about its national boundaries and try to tackle the problem as a one because ultimately it will harm the world as a whole and not just few individuals or one part of the world.
The meeting of experts on human rights and the environment(14-15 janury,2002) preparatory to the seminar ( 16 january,2002) held at Geneva to assess the progress since the 1992 conference, concluded that the developments indicate the close linkage between the protection of the Human right and environmental protection in the context of sustainable development , the growing inter- relationship between the approaches to each of them, as well all the synergies that have developed between the previously distinct fields.
In 2009, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) jointly organized a High Level Expert Meeting, the New Future of Human Rights and the Environment: Moving the Global Agenda Forward. The meeting provided a forum to discuss the series of resolutions adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on the relationship between a safe and healthy environment and the enjoyment of human rights. The diverse range of legal and environmental policy experts who participated agreed that the time was ripe ―to deepen understanding of the direct and indirect links between the protection of the environment and the enjoyment of human rights. One of their proposals was to produce a review of law dealing with human rights and environmental linkages.
OTHER PROVISIONS LINKING HUMAN RIGHT, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
Most human rights treaties were drafted and adopted before environmental protection became a matter of international concern. As a result, there are few references to environmental matters in international human rights instrument, although e right to life and health are certainly included and some formulation s of the latter right makes references to environmental issues.
Global Treaties and Legal Provisions Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Although the UDHR has its non-binding status but many of its provisions still there in many international legal documents. The declaration does not refer to the environment directly. However article 25 states that:
Everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well -being of himself and of his family ,including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment , sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the social protection.
The enjoyment of right to standard of living requires that everyone get the subsistence rights i.e. adequate amount of nutritious food, clothing and housing. However in order to enjoy these above rights, the citizens should also get the economic rights. These are Right to Property; which is not easily available in worldwide, in fact in India, it has been removed from the fundamental rights (44th Amendment), Right to Work and the Right to Social Security. By implementation of these rights, Right to a standard of living can be achieved.
The second part of the article 25 has been included in the spirit of protecting the vulnerable groups i.e. mother and child. There is a link of the health of mother and child. Mother needs a good care and assistance for the adequate development of child. They both need to live in good environment for the overall development.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
This Covenant did not give much importance on the right to environment but it mainly focused on the right to life which also indirectly links to the right to healthy environment. Article 6(1) declares that:
―Every human right has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by the law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life .
Right to environment and right to life are closely related because person‘s right to life can be infringed when he does not get healthy environment to live. In India, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Article 21 of the constitution and explicitly states that citizens have a right to clean and healthy environment.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
Article 7(b) states, ―All the workers are entitled to safe and healthy working conditions. Article 10(3) states, ―Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of percentage or their conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitations. Their employment in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development should be punished by law. States should also set age limit below which the paid employment of child labour should be prohibited and punished by law. Article 12 states: ―The states parties to the present covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The steps to be taken by the states parties to the present covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
The provision for the reduction of the still-birth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
This covenant guarantees the right of safe and healthy working conditions for the workers and also directs the state to take special measures for the protection of children so that they would be secured from the economic and social exploitations. It also explicitly states about the improvement of environmental and industrial hygiene which also includes treatment and prevention of diseases and medical services for all.
Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)
Article 14(2)(h) provides , ―state parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women , that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right to enjoy adequate living conditions , particularly in relation to housing ,sanitation ,electricity and water supply
, transport and communication .
This article mentions about the duty of state to take measures to abolish the discrimination of both the genders and also guarantees right to enjoy and live in a healthy environment with adequate facilities.
Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
Environmental protection in relation to child‘s right to health has been referred in this convention. Article 24
(1) says, ―States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of
health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services. 24(2) provides,
―States parties shall pursue full implementation of this rights and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(c)To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water , taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
- To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantage of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents . This article says about the duty of the state to provide nutritious food and adequate drinking water to children and also concerns about the dangers and risks of environmental pollution.
ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1989)
Article 2, 6,7,15 includes abundant references to the lands, resources and environment of indigenous peoples. Part II of the Convention provides about land problem, including conservation of their natural resources pertaining to their land. In addition, article 25(1) mention about the duty of the government to provide adequate health services and resources. Also,
Article 30 requires that governments make known to the people concerned their rights and duties. Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, (1998)It is also known as The Aarhus Convention, The UNECE Convention on right to information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in the
Environment for Europe‘ process. The present convention
- Links environmental rights and human rights.
- Acknowledges that we owe an obligation to future generations.
- Establishes the sustainable development can be achieved only through the involvement of all stakeholders.
- Links government accountability and environmental protection.
- Focus on interactions between the public and public authorities in a democratic context.
- This convention is not only an environmental agreement but also about government accountability, transparency and responsiveness.
- Vienna Declaration on Human Rights- the Vienna Declaration and Programme for action
The Vienna 20 CSO Declaration, 25th and 26th June, 2013
The Vienna 20 CSO declaration was attended by more than 140 CSO around the world, on the occasion of 20th anniversary of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights and its Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, June 25,1993.
This conference has recognized the environment and ecological proportions of human rights in ensuring the performing and sustainability of global ecosystem. It upholds the rights of planet, earth and even values the rights of future generations.
Special procedures established under the UN human rights system have also contributed to clarifying certain aspects of the Human rights and the environment linkages, such as with respect to toxic waste, indigenous peoples rights, food, water and climate change. Further, in March 2012, during its 19th session, the UN Human Rights Council created a three-year mandate for an Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment. In addition to the work of human rights treaty bodies and special procedures, the jurisprudence of universal and regional human rights supervisory mechanisms has tackled the environmental dimension of protected human rights. Human rights supervisory mechanisms have been confronted with applications or petitions involving environmental issues submitted by victims and/or non- governmental organizations. In responding to them, they have had to ascertain whether and/or how the content of a protected right is linked with environmental issues. In this process, environmental realities have been translated into a language of rights. The result has been a robust, albeit still evolving, Human rights and the environment jurisprudence linking the content of protected rights with environmental issues.
Hearing and deciding Human rights and the environment cases has forced regional and universal supervisory mechanisms to address the Human rights and the environment linkage. At times human rights mechanisms have addressed the right to a healthy environment directly, and at other times they have addressed the environmental dimensions of the right to life, the right to culture, the right to property, the right to private life, and the right to access to information, to name a few rights directly implicated in Human rights and the environment case-law. The resulting jurisprudence represents an important contribution to the international community‘s understanding of the Human rights and the environment linkage.
REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL JUDICIAL INTERVENTIONS
The developments which have taken place in various national courts around the world; two things which we all have come across i.e. the courts have started recognizing the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental right and courts through various landmark decisions have started explaining the nature of these rights. Some of the decisions are as follows:
Antonio Mauricio Monroy Cespedes‘s case, 1993 – in Columbia, the right to the environment was integrated in 1991. In this case the court observed that ―side by side with fundamental rights such as liberty, equality and necessary conditions for people‘s life, there is a right to environment. The right to a healthy environment cannot be separated from the right to life and health of human beings. If this is so we can state that the right to the environment is a right fundamental to the existence of humanity .
Carlos Roberto Garcia Chacon, 1993– the case was regarding the use of a cliff as a waste dump. The Supreme Court of Costa Rica stated ―life is only possible when it exists in solidarity with nature, which nourishes and sustains us- not only with regard to food, but also with physical well being. It constitutes a right that all citizens possess to live in an environment free from contamination .
Guerra and Others v. Italy – the Environment Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that the state is responsible for breaching the right of the applicant‘s i.e. right to privacy and family life, which was granted in Article 8 of ECHR by not providing the essential information regarding the risk they possess in living near the chemical plant.
Powell & Rayner v. UK – it was the first case where court has identified the links between the environment and quality of life. Here the court said that the noise which is coming out from Heatthrow airport is causing nuisance and interfering with the right to live in a peaceful environment. The court has also tested out the balance between the interests of the individual against the interest of the community and to what extent state has a duty to secure the rights of the people. The court held that airport is necessary for the economic well being of the country and the state should comply with the international aviation standard to diminish the noise pollution.
Lopez Ostra v. Spain – the applicant resided near the privately owned solid and liquid waste treatment plant. She asserted that the odour and noise coming out from the plant infringing her right to live in healthy environment and freedom from torture. The court has found out that emanation surpasses the tolerable limits and stated that severe environmental pollution may affect individuals well being and it also prevents them from enjoying their private life peacefully. Eventually, Court has awarded the applicant with the four million pesetas.
The question of human rights and environment has also come up in our neighbouring countries. Some of the cases are as follows:
In Bangladesh, the constitution does not provide the right to live in a healthy environment either in fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. However, Article 31 states that every citizen has the right to protection from action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property‘. In Dr. M. Farooque v. Secretary, ministry of Communication, Government of People‘s Republic of Bangladesh and others . A public interest litigation came up to the Supreme Court in 1994. In which Supreme Court has affirmed the right to live does also extend to right to live in a healthy environment.
In Zia v. WAPDA , the question came up before the Supreme Court of Pakistan under Article 9 of the Constitution that whether citizens are allowed to get protection of law from being exposed to hazards of electro-magnetic field or any other such hazards which may be due to installations and building the grid location, power stations, etc. the court said that Article 9 of the constitution provides the protection of dignity of man and right to life, Article 14 says about the privacy of home , which is unchallengeable. If both read concurrently, question arises, whether the rights of a man get infringed if he lives without adequate proper food, house, clothing, heath care, clean atmosphere and unpolluted environment.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
In India, even without the constitutional provision, rich heritage of India emphasis the significance of environment the worship of animals, such as tiger of Goddess Durga, mouse of lord Ganesh, elephant of lord Indra, garud of lord Vishnu, cow of lord Krishna and so on and trees like Peepal and Tulsi are worshipped and a part of the composite culture and faith. The sects of Bishnoi in the state of Rajasthan has committed to protect the flora and fauna and large number of them had given their lives to save the same , the Chipkoo movement in Uttaranchal was on the same line.
Our former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi stressed upon the fact that modern man must be able to establish an unbroken link with nature and with life‘, ―He must again learn to invoke the energy of growing things and to recognize as the ancients in India centuries ago, that one can take from the earth and the atmosphere only so much as one puts back to them.
After the Stockholm Conference the Indian Parliament introduced the forty second amendment whereby Articles 48Aand 51 A(g) were added to in the Constitution in 1976. The amendment also expands the list of concurrent powers in the constitution transferring ―Forest and ―Protection of Wildlife and Birds ―from the State to Concurrent list. These major amendments and enactment of legislative measures goes to show that the nation realized that a framework of laws was necessary to deal with the environmental degradation, which affecting the citizen‘s Right to Life. Integration of the environment in the economic and social development has been the center of the development plans and has come up with the main guiding principles. This is in accord with the directive principles of state policy and the Fundamental Duties.
Article 48-A of the Constitution provides:
―The state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife of the country.
Article 51A(g) of the Constitution provides:
―It shall be the duty of every citizen of india to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and wildlife of the country.
In LK Koolwal v. State of Rajasthan , there was a demand for cleaning up the pink city,Jaipur and saving it from the unhygienic conditions. The court held that the it‘s a duty of the citizen under art 51- A(g) to approach the court for a directions to the Muncipal department to clean the city and thus maintain the sanitation, health and the environment which falls within Art.21.
Thus our Constitution includes environmental protection and conservation as one of our fundamental duties. Although the provisions for respecting, protecting and improving the environment were not in terms of human rights to environment but cast the duty upon the citizens and the state to protect and preserve.
Some other important Acts passed by the Government of India are:
- Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
- National Green Tribunal Act,2010
It is submitted that the above brief examination of the various international and national efforts, undertaken to contest the alarming global environmental challenges which are directly or indirectly links to the Human Rights as reflected in the various international and legal instruments.
From the above discussion it is clear that if we ignore and neglect the environment the quality of our life and our children and their children will be in jeopardy. All over the world people are experiencing the effects of global warming and ecosystem decline, from water shortages to fish kills to landslides and climate change. A human right approach to environmental issues elevates the entire spectrum of sustainability, conservation and environmental issues to fundamental values of society on a level equal to other rights. It creates rights and obligations and thus more environmental awareness. And from the legal perspective, it will be a strong legal tool to stop and prevent environmental degradation. Also, such frightening prospects have made our leaders both at the national and international level to think about the ways to protect the environment International law and jurisprudence has elucidated linkages between the natural environment and several different types of protected rights. Environmental conservation and protection is linked to both procedural and substantive rights; civil and political rights as well as cultural, economic and social rights; positive and negative rights; individual rights, collective rights, and rights associated with mankind as a whole; and rights held by the living and rights held by future generations.
International and National studies of human environment and law reveal that there is need to develop human environment codes. It is seen that there is no shortage at International and National level to pay the foundation of human environmental law. The International Human Rights standards serve as a guide for measures to tackle the problem of environmental pollution and to protect and promote full enjoyment of the rights given in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the core universal human rights treaties. It can be concluded that policy goals enforcement of environmental is very much present in the judicial responses. Therefore, it becomes evidently clear and certain that for the declaration of the right to healthy environment as a human right we need effective, efficient environmental laws.
It has been broadly accepted that environment protection constitutes a precondition for the effective enjoyment of human rights protection, and that human rights and the environment are interdependent and interrelated. The experts identified poverty at the centre of human rights violations and also as a major obstacle to achieving sustainable development and environmental protection. A rights based approach has been recommended to enhance the impact of policies and programmes. Environmental awaking among the people will make the environmental laws more enforceable and also lead to develop more purposeful laws in this subject. Sense of environmental rights and duties will make right to healthy environment more strengthful human right. Such changes will not occur quickly but citizens, international and national organizations should make consistent efforts for at least a gradual change.
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