Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 19: Human rights and the environment in the African Union context
This Chapter deals with the relationship between the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981 (Banjul Charter) and environmental protection. Article 24 of the Banjul Charter includes an environmental right that reads ‘[A]ll peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development’. The linkage between development and the environment raises several questions; especially due to the explicit recognition of a right to development (Article 22) in the same instrument. The author accordingly discusses Article 24 in the context of the relationship between the environmental right and the right to development. Subsequent to a critical analysis of the meaning and scope of Articles 22 and 24, the author argues that the potential conflict between the aforementioned rights must be reconciled via sustainable development. The Banjul Charter also provides fertile ground for an analysis of the human rights-environment relationship due to the fact that it does not include a jurisdiction clause, the lack of which opens the door for the extraterritorial application of the rights contained in it. These findings therefore affirm the important role that the regional human rights framework may play in relation to the promotion of sustainable development.
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