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The Right to a Clean Environment Under Human Rights Law

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As the world confronts the human dimensions occasioned bythe effects of greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps this is anauspicious moment for once again testing the idea of solidifying aright—aspirational or otherwise—to a healthy environment. If,as many anthropologists tell us, we are now in a newAnthropocene era when human society directs, rather thanresponds, to nature, it seems reasonable to engage in ameaningful conversation about an environmental right.

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Environmental protection and human rights were viewed as separate areas by governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations alike at both national and international levels

The environmental issues in different regions of the world are now being accepted as having major human rights implications by the global society with growing globalization. The correlation between the expansion of science and technology and human rights has already been on the program of diverse United Nations bodies for decades. The central foundation of the modern notion of human rights is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the many human rights documents and treaties that have followed it. According to the Stockholm proclamation – “Humans have the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations”. In spite of the obvious connection between environment and human rights international human rights law which contemplates environmental damage as a infringement of human rights has only lately begin to materialize and lucid definitions of environmental human rights have yet to be formulated.

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The first milestone reflecting an international consensus on the nature and scope of the environment challenge confronting world community was the Stockholm Conference

The declaration does not provide for the definition of environment. The main gist of the declaration is the “man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well being and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generation.” (S.C. Shastri). The conference takes into account the fact that the environment may challenge the very existence of mankind as it has an immense impact on the life of human kind and sustainable modification or harm. The principle of ‘sustainable development’ came to be recognised in this declaration which says that there must be a balance between development and ecology. “Economic development without environmental considerations can cause serious environmental damage affecting the quality of life of the population, both present and future.” (Indrajit Dube). Therefore, there is an urgent need to maintain a balance between the demands of development and the levels of environmental protection in order to ensure sustainable development.

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Generlly speaking, It shall promote understanding tolerance and friendship among all nations social orreligious groups and shall further the activities of the United Nations for themaintenance of peace. Historically, education is an instrument of developmentand an important factor for social change

In this view, Human Rights educationis / has to be an integral part of the right to education. Of late, it is recognizedas a Human Right in itself.The knowledge of the rights and freedoms, of oneself as much as of the others.

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Mahendra P. Singh, V.N. Shukla’s “Constitution of India”, 11th Edition, Eastern Book Company.

S.C. Shastri, “Environmental Law”, 3rd Edition, Eastern Book Company.

Indrajit Dube, “Environmental Jurisprudence: Polluter’s Liability”, Lexis Nexis Butterworths.

Mishra S.K. 1998. Saving Lives or Causing Deaths? – The Workers of Polluting Industries. Labour File (Jan.-April 1998). (Pp. 26-6)

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