In the last twenty-five years, environmentalists have sought recognition for the right to a safe environment (RSE) in national and international fora. As a result, some countries have recognized RSE in their constitutions. Nevertheless, much skepticism exists about whether RSE is a genuine human right, and advocates of RSE still need to persuade critics that this right merits national and international recognition. This paper presents a normative defense of RSE. It argues that a right to a safe environment - defined narrowly - is a genuine human right because it passes appropriate justificatory tests. Part I defends the modest use of the language of rights in expressing environmental norms. Part II offers a narrow account of the scope of RSE. Part III provides a justification for RSE as conceived in part II.
James W. Nickel,
The Human Right to a Safe Environment: Philosophical Perspectives on Its Scope and Justification,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol18/iss1/9