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 17: The interaction between human rights and the environment in the European ‘Aarhus space’

Ellen Hey


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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