Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 5: Environmental human rights: a constructive critique
This Chapter presents a constructive critique of environmental human rights. The analysis is ‘constructive’ in the sense that it seeks to reveal the underlying assumptions and preconditions upon which a discussion of environmental human rights rests. Three key critiques are advanced. The first concerns the way environmental human rights embody an anthropocentric logic that abstracts human beings from the environment and from each other. I suggest that this abstraction gets produced and re-inscribed in the political and legal discourse of human rights and in its application to particular circumstances. Second, I describe how contemporary human rights discourse represents a ‘last utopia’ in the political juncture which right wing Hegelian Francis Fukuyama termed ‘the end of history’. Drawing on Samuel Moyn’s recent revisionist history of human rights, I consider how human rights have been used as a tool for repressing ‘radical politics’ and how the language of human rights acts as a ‘colonizing space’ that subsumes other discourses or modes of action. Finally, I draw attention to critical discourses that get displaced by environmental human rights – namely anti-capitalism and other alternatives to the modern market economy that are often presented under the heading of the ‘new economy’. I argue that the egoism of environmental human rights limits their ability to combat market capitalism and that environmental human rights risk being subsumed within a capitalist economic framework.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.