Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment

Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé

Bringing together leading international scholars in the field, this Research Handbook interrogates, from various angles and positions, the fractious relationship between human rights and the environment and between human rights and environmental law. The Handbook provides researchers and students with a fertile source of reflection and engagement with this most important of contemporary legal relationships. Law’s complex role in the mediation of the relationship between humanity and the living order is richly reflected in this timely and authoritative collection.
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Chapter 9: Human rights and the environment through an environmental constitutionalism lens

Louis J. Kotzé


The gradual rise of ‘environmental constitutionalism’ in scholarly debates suggests a deliberate, albeit (still) hesitant, attempt to view anew the human rights–environment debate through a constitutional lens. While this reignited interest seems to depart from a more environment-focused and tailor-made constitutional approach (i.e., environmental constitutionalism), one has to ask: is environmental constitutionalism merely a new label for an old phenomenon (i.e., constitutionalism); or does it actually bring something new to the table? More importantly: is this new scholarly term of art useful to the human rights–environment debate? In an effort to contribute to the young but evolving discourse on environmental constitutionalism, this Chapter seeks to commence a normative-conceptual enquiry focused on answering these questions.

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