Research Handbook on International Environmental Law
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Research Handbook on International Environmental Law

Edited by Malgosia Fitzmaurice, David M. Ong and Panos Merkouris

This wide-ranging and comprehensive Handbook examines recent developments in international environmental law (IEL) and the crossover effects of this expansion on other areas of international law, such as trade law and the law of the sea.
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Chapter 14: Human Rights to a Clean Environment: Procedural Rights

Jona Razzaque


Jona Razzaque Introduction This chapter aims to provide an overview of the development of procedural environmental rights, and review the current interpretation, approaches and techniques of procedural rights in international and national laws. Procedural rights deal with the process through which a decision (administrative or judicial) is taken and typically encompass public consultation, information provision and access to the courts (Ebbesson, 1997: 70–5). The core issues involved are procedural fairness, allowing people to be part of the process, and community empowerment, enabling people to take an active role in decisions affecting their lives. Substantive and procedural rights are often connected: for example, a substantive right to a clean environment usually requires procedural rights to be heard in decisions that might affect those substantive rights (Ebbesson, 1997: 63–9). Access to information, public participation, and access to justice improve the credibility, effectiveness, and accountability of governmental decision-making processes (Petkova et al., 2002: 121–32). Involving people at the early stage of the decision-making process creates greater trust in the process and decreases the possibility of later conflict. The right to participation allows people to be part of the decision-making process through consultation and comments, and to have their opinions heard. Participation enables the participating communities to hold public authorities accountable for implementation and improves the efficiency and credibility to government processes. Commonly used participatory tools include public hearings, notice and consultation, citizen ombudsmen and judicial review mechanisms (Dannemaier, 1997: 13–14). The right to participation needs to be supported by...

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