Human Rights and Environmental Protection

"There is considerable recognition at the international level and in numerous countries around the world of the importance of protecting and promoting environmental rights within the human rights context" ... yet ... "Australia is the only Western democracy that does not have comprehensive legal protection of human rights"

These are extracts from the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) Discussion Paper Protection of Human Rights and Environmental Rights in Australia (PDF 230kB). EDO have also completed a thorough submission to the National Human Rights Consultation (submissions closed 15 June 2009) (Download here, PDF 430kB).

Protestors againt Gunns Pulp Mill, including the Green Party's Senator Bob Brown (centre). According to the International Association for Impact Assessment, public participation is a core principle of EIA. During the Gunns Pulp Mill process 20 environmental activists, green organisations (as well as theirindividual staff members), and members of the Greens party were sued for $6.4 million damages.

EDO's submission on human rights considers the need for direct or indirect protection of environmental rights. Amongst other things, this could help to:
  • moderate the actions of decisions made in spite of, and at the expense of, valid and serious concerns about environmental and social impacts;
  • protect the right to freedom of expression and public participation, particularly in light of a rise in litigation cases against public campaigners in some states;
  • limit opportunity for ‘special legislation’ enacted deliberately to avoid the application of existing environmental protection laws; and
  • better ensure climate change considerations are acknowledged;
Protection of human rights for environmental protection is another tool for biodiversity management that is notably absent in Australia's strategy for sustainable development. There will no doubt be opportunities to engage further on this important topic in due course.

1 comment:

salamander said...

It is not only "Protection of human rights for environmental protection" but also protection of the environment for human rights. That would ensure clean air and water would be part of our 'rights', which should ensure no 'wrongs' as we see so often when company profits take priority over everything else.

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