The Right to a Healthy Environment

Delineating the content (and contours) of a slippery notion

Authored by: Giovanna Adinolfi

Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Disasters

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138069916
eBook ISBN: 9781315115238
Adobe ISBN:


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Among the main issues currently discussed by international environmental lawyers is the existence and the content of a human right to a healthy environment. The overall purpose of this chapter is to place this debate within the specific context of international disaster law, in order to assess the impact of the measures adopted by States instrumental to the protection of this right on both the prevention of disasters and the granting of an adequate protection of individuals in a post-disaster situation. The analysis is focused on the case law developed under universal and regional human rights treaties, whether or not they expressly recognize environmental rights. Particular attention is given to the case law regarding States’ responsibility for the violation of human rights in the context of a natural or human-made disaster. Procedural and substantial dimensions of environmental rights will be highlighted, as well as the influence of international environmental and disaster law on the interpretation of relevant provisions under human rights regimes. The final part of the chapter assesses the advantages of an express recognition of a right of a healthy environment on the protection of basic human rights of population heavily affected by climate change and whether-related disasters.

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