1st Edition

Human Rights and the Environment Key Issues

By Sumudu Atapattu, Andrea Schapper Copyright 2019
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    384 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The field of human rights and the environment has grown phenomenally during the last few years and this textbook will be one of the first to encourage students to think critically about how many environmental issues lead to a violation of existing rights.

    Taking a socio-legal approach, this book will provide a good understanding of both human rights and environmental issues, as well as the limitations of each regime, and will explore the ways in which human rights law and institutions can be used to obtain relief for the victims of environmental degradation or of adverse effects of environmental policies. In addition, it will place an emphasis on climate change and climate policies to highlight the pros and cons of using a human rights framework and to underscore its importance in the context of climate change. As well as identifying emerging issues and areas for further research, each chapter will be rich in pedagogical features, including web links to further research and discussion questions for beyond the classroom.

    Combining their specialisms in law and politics, Atapattu and Schapper have developed a truly inter-disciplinary resource that will be essential for students of human rights, environmental studies, international law, international relations, politics, and philosophy.

    Part I: Introduction and Evolution 

    1. Human Rights and Environmental Protection: Framing the Issues 

    2. Emergence of a Human Right to a Healthy Environment 

    3. Pros and Cons of a Human Rights-Based Approach to Environmental Protection 

    4. Regional Developments 

    Part II: Human Rights of special relevance to Environmental Protection 

    5. Substantive Right 

    6. Procedural Right 

    7. Constitutional Developments 

    8. Selected National Cases 

    Part III: Climate Change and Human Rights 

    9. From UNFCCC to Paris Agreement: A Human Rights Assessment  

    10. Social Movements and Civil Society 

    11. Vulnerability and Climate Change 

    12. Mitigation, Adaptation, and Loss and Damage 

    Part IV: Emerging issues related to environmental rights 

    13. Extraterritorial Application of Environmental Rights 

    14. Business, Human Rights and the Environment 

    15. Intergenerational Rights, Animal rights, and the rights of Nature and Ecosystems 

    16. Human Rights and Environment: Square Pegs in Round Holes?


    Sumudu Atapattu is the Director of Research Centers and International Programs at the University of Wisconsin Law School, USA. She teaches seminar classes on "International Environmental Law" and "Climate Change, Human Rights and the Environment." She is affiliated with UW-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Center for South Asia and is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Program. She serves as the Lead Counsel for Human Rights at the Center for International Sustainable Development Law, Montreal, and is affiliated faculty at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights, Sweden. Her publications include Emerging Principles of International Environmental Law (2006), Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities (2016), International Environmental Law and the Global South (2015), and The Cambridge Handbook on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development (forthcoming).

    Andrea Schapper is a Lecturer in International Politics and Programme Director of the MSc International Conflict and Cooperation at the University of Stirling, UK. She is the Co-Director of the Centre for Policy, Conflict and Cooperation and member of the Human Security, Conflict and Cooperation interdisciplinary research group at Stirling. She coordinates and teaches modules on "Human Rights in International Politics", "The United Nations in a Globalized World", "International Organizations" and "Political Concepts and Ideas." Previously, when she worked at the University of Darmstadt in Germany, Andrea also taught a seminar on "Climate Change and Human Rights." Her publications include, among others, a monograph titled From the Global to the Local: How International Rights Reach Bangladesh’s Children (2014) and the special journal issue Human Rights and Climate Change: Mapping Institutional Interlinkages (2014). Her journal articles have been published in, among others, International Relations, Human Rights Quarterly, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, and the Journal of International Relations and Development.

    "In a world besieged by pollution, climate change, and declining biodiversity, it is vital to assess whether human rights can help address these challenges. This comprehensive new book by leading experts Sumudu Atapattu and Andrea Schapper offers a clear and timely assessment." -- David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment & Associate Professor, Law, Policy, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Canada

    "Environmental degradation and human rights violations are intrinsically intertwined.  In this textbook, leading experts Sumudu Atapattu and Andrea Schapper discuss their relationship comprehensively." -- Judge Navanethem Pillay, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    "This clear, accessible, student-friendly and comprehensive treatment of human rights and the environment is both timely and welcome. The book addresses, with expertise and clarity, the foundational aspects of the field, offering students a solid understanding of its key institutional and conceptual characteristics. The book also introduces students to important critical themes and provides helpful questions for reflection and discussion. This textbook is likely to prove a most valuable resource for anyone teaching or studying the increasingly important nexus between human rights and the environment." -- Anna Grear, Professor of Law and Theory, School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University, UK

    "Climate change and environmental destruction are the biggest threats to all species living on the globe. Combined they constitute the worst global and intergenerational injustice. This textbook contributes an exceptional insight to what law brings to addressing the injustices as well as the limitations of the legal regime. In a pedagogical and highly sophisticated manner, the authors combine human rights and environmental justice framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This textbook is not only important to stimulate curiosity and critical reflection for students, it will also be highly inspiring reading for all to whom the survival of the earth is a major concern." -- Morten Kjaerum, Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Sweden

    "In 2012, the current United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, David Boyd, suggested we are witnessing an "environmental rights revolution". In their new book, Professors Sumudu Atapattu and Andrea Schapper, both prominent scholars in the areas of environmental justice, sustainable development and environmental law, make a timely and important contribution to this "revolution". They provide: a comprehensive survey that frames the issues surrounding human rights and environmental protection; a historical perspective on the emergence of environmental human rights; the advantages and disadvantages associated with the rights-based approach; and a description of regional developments. The book also usefully focuses on specific human rights that are critical for environmental protection, while it discusses climate change and human rights and emerging, but critically important, issues that remain at the periphery of State concern, such as rights of nature and the extraterritorial application of environmental rights." Louis J. Kotzé, Research Professor, North-West University, South Africa

    "Atapattu and Schapper rigorously dissect the recognition of environmental rights across legal systems and jurisdictions. Focusing on the positive force for good of environmental rights as well as the inherent limitations of the environmental rights agenda, this book is an indispensable resource for students and scholars of this emerging legal phenomenon." -- Ole W Pedersen, Reader in Environmental Law, Newcastle Law School, UK

    "As the thematic boundaries of the environmental rights landscape continues to expand, the need for a comprehensive exploration of the topic is ever more needed. The authors masterfully situate cutting-edge normative developments within a solid conceptual framework that illuminates the interaction of human rights and the environment." -- Marcos Orellana, Director, Environment and Human Rights Division Human Rights Watch and Adjunct Associate Professor, George Washington University School of Law, USA

    "In this book, Atapattu and Schapper provide an insightful, interdisciplinary introduction to this new and growing field. The text provides an excellent blend of theory and practice—engaging students in the conceptual, doctrinal, socio-political and practical challenges of using human rights law for environmental protection and sustainable development. The case study on climate change is an effective approach that focusses the student on the details of the most complex and critical environmental challenge. The relationship between climate change and human rights is important enough to warrant this attention in its own right. The case study also allows students to gain a deeper appreciation of the complexities of a rights-based approach to environmental protection than would a text that surveys all environmental issues." -- David Hunter, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law, USA