Edited by Jordi Jaria-Manzano and Susana Borrás
Chapter 9: A human rights framework for the Anthropocene
Calls for recognition of a human right to security from climate disruption have become more common, from both courts and scholars. But such a right has a far better chance of being effective – substantively and rhetorically – if grounded in the civil and political rights tradition, rather than the second or third-generation rights of the post-Second World War era. This chapter begins to sketch out some arguments that would situate a human right to climate security squarely in the civil and political rights tradition by connecting that new right to the fundamental values and concerns that have always animated that tradition. Whether one views those values as centrally concerned with the maintenance of individual autonomy and dignity or with protecting the integrity of the democratic process, civil and political rights are at bottom a response to power imbalance. While many twentieth century theorists have understandably focused on the power imbalance most emblematic of that century’s central moral challenge (that fuelled by prejudice), in constructing a human right for the twenty-first century, we should broaden that lens to encompass the other forms of power imbalance driving the climate crisis: between wealthy corporate interests and the poor and powerless; between us and future generations or other species; and between the functioning governments of the globe that possess the unique power to tackle this textbook collective action problem and individual citizens.
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