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With policy and law-makers under pressure to subordinate environmental concerns to short-term economic imperatives, environmental advocates are increasingly looking to human rights as a means of reinforcing the importance of environmental protection to human welfare. This subject will give students an overview of the relationship between human rights law and environmental protection at national and international levels. It will provide insight into strategic aspects of human rights advocacy for the environment, using case studies to explore the roles of state and non-state actors in environmental protection. Alice Palmer will bring both practical and critical perspectives to this cutting-edge area of law.
Principal topics include:
- The relationship between human rights and the environment in theory and practice
- Human rights that protect the environment, including substantive rights such as the rights to privacy or health and procedural rights such as the rights to information or participation and the right to a clean and healthy environment
- Sustainable development and its relevance to human rights and the environment
- The implications of human rights law for indigenous peoples and environmental protection
- National, regional and international governance of human rights in relation to the environment
- The roles and responsibilities of non-state actors in relation to ‘environmental rights’, including environmental advocates and businesses.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have thorough knowledge of the principal instruments that protect human rights and ‘environmental rights’ and their governance structures, including their enforcement mechanisms, at national, regional and international levels
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the theoretical and practical bases for engaging human right to protect the environment
- Have an advanced understanding of ‘environmental rights’ and the relationship between human rights law and environmental protection, including recent developments at national, regional and international levels
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding contemporary issues in areas such as the rights of Indigenous Peoples with respect to environmental protection as well as the roles and responsibilities of actors other than states, such as businesses, in environmental matters that impact human rights
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the use of human rights to protect the environment
- Have the technical and communication skills to describe cases in which environmental rights have been applied and critically evaluate the decisions from theoretical perspectives to reach independent conclusions on the efficacy of a human rights approach to environmental protection.
Last updated: 30 October 2020