Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 17: The interaction between human rights and the environment in the European ‘Aarhus space’
This Chapter illustrates how the procedural environmental rights introduced by the Aarhus Convention have facilitated the shaping of an ‘Aarhus space’ in which human rights and the environment are able to interact in Europe. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union have each contributed to the shaping of this ‘Aarhus space’, in particular by using teleological means of interpretation. The Chapter suggests that within the ‘Aarhus space’ individuals and groups in society are exercising their right to protect the environment. What individuals and groups are implicitly claiming in relevant cases is that public authorities are hampering them in the exercise of this right, because authorities are not providing them with information, do not allow them to participate in decision-making or impede their access to justice. Individuals and groups then are not seeking to protect their own substantive rights, even if these may play a role in a given case, but rather the protection of the environment. The ‘Aarhus space’ thereby can be characterized as mostly eco-centric.
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