Air Pollution in a Human Rights Perspective

Report
Air Pollution in a Human
Rights Perspective
Ought Air Pollution be seen through a Human Rights Lens?
Facts: health issues and number of deaths
source: blog.thomsonreuters.com
Europe
Facts: how air is polluted, health issues and number of
deaths
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Air is polluted via the introduction of chemicals and particles into the
atmosphere, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides,
ozone and lead.
Air pollution is a significant factor in the cause of health issues including
nausea, respiratory infections, skin infections, heart disease, stroke and
lung cancer.
Air pollution is responsible for 7,000,000 deaths a year, or 1 in 8 deaths
worldwide, according to a 2014 report by the World Health Organisation.
Across the European Union, air pollution is expected to reduce life
expectancy by 9 months.
India is worst affected by air pollution, with more premature deaths
attributable to asthma than any other nation.
What are ‘Human Rights’?
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Human rights are rights held by individuals simply because
they are part of the human species.
They are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental
rights to which a person is inherently entitled”.
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Human rights are universal and egalitarian.
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They are protected in national and international law.
Air Pollution, Acid Rain and it’s transboundary effects
How could air pollution be viewed
through a Human Rights lens?
I) Explicit Human Rights to “Environmental quality”
II) “Greening” of existing Human Rights
I) Explicit Human Rights to “Environmental
quality”
1972 Stockholm Declaration - Pr.1
Uncommon
African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights
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Art. 24
Ogoniland Case
II) “Greening of existing Human Rights
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Interpretation of existing Treaty Rights
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ECHR, American Convention on Human Rights etc.
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Living instruments
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Right to life, health, private life, property
“in the light of current conditions”
Negative and positive state duties
❖ Using existing human rights to compel governments to consider
environmental rights
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Lopez-Ostra v. Spain, ECHR (1994), Series A, No. 303C
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Guerra and Others v. Italy, 1998-1 ECHR (1998)
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Taskin v. Turkey, ECHR (2004)
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Fadeyeva v. Russia, ECHR (2005)
❖ Complaint No. 30/2005 Marangopoulos v. Greece, ECSR : The explicit
recognition of the “right to a healthy environment”
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Facts : Before the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), the international non-governmental
organisation, Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (“MFHR”), maintained that Greece had failed to
comply with some Articles of the Charter because in the areas where lignite is mined, the state had not taken
sufficient account of the environmental effects or developed an appropriate strategy to prevent and combat
public health risks..
Questions before ECS: whether the pollution was a violation of the charter — specifically, of the right to health
(Art. 11 Charter) or of the right to just conditions of work (Art. 2(4) Charter) and the right to safe and healthy
working conditions (Art. 3 Charter)
Committee’s reasoning: Explicit recognition of the “ right to a healthy environment ” as embodied in the right
to health and linked to the right to life under the ECHR. In finding that Greece violated this right by failing to fi ght
air pollution, the committee relied on a wide range of internationally recognized environmental standards, such
as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 5 the Kyoto Protocol, 6 and various
provisions and EU Directives.
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
❖ First approach → Abolishment of the whole concept of linking
environmental and human rights
❖ Second approach → Adopting a specific human right to clean air
❖ Third approach → Greening of existing rights under the ECHR
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
First approach → Abolishment of the whole concept of linking
environmental and human rights
Redundancy of the linkage
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
First approach → Abolishment of the whole concept of linking
environmental and human rights
Effectiveness → Transboundary events and the
tragedy of the commons
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
Second approach → Adopting a specific human right to clean air
❖ What should a right to clean air entail?
❖ How should it be interpreted?
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
Third approach → Greening of existing rights under the ECHR
❖ Evolutionary interpretation of existing greened
rights
❖ A solution to the standing problem?
Ought air pollution be regulated through human rights?
Not the environment itself, but humans are in the center
of a human rights approach → What about future
generations then?

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