Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability

Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability

Kerri Woods

Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability challenges the assumed harmony between human rights norms and the demands of environmental sustainability, by addressing conceptual, normative, and political questions surrounding the interaction between the two.

Chapter 1: Globalization, Human Rights and the Environment

Kerri Woods

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy, human rights


Both aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights and the right to life itself. (United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972) 1.1 INTRODUCTION Human rights and environmental sustainability inevitably come together and impact on one another in a globalized or globalizing world. It is a necessary task for theorists of human rights and of environmental sustainability to consider the conceptual and normative issues at stake in this interaction. The globalization of human rights, we are told, has brought greater freedom everywhere. But greater economic freedom and the economic expansion attendant upon globalization has also wrought more environmental degradation. Environmental degradation has in turn, in some parts of the world, undermined human rights, and has the potential to do so globally if unsustainable practices remain unchecked. Human rights, as a global norm, have been taken up by environmental activists from a wide range of cultural and political contexts. Globalization, then, is an important variable in the tensions and connections between human rights and environmental sustainability. Globalization has been defined in a number of ways. For some it is purely economic, for others predominantly so, for others still it is a set of intrinsically linked and equally important processes of economic, political and cultural phenomena. One prominent commentator offers this definition: Fundamentally, [globalization is] the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world which has been made possible by the enormous reduction of...

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