Constitutional Environmental Rights

By Tim Hayward | Go to book overview

2 Constitutionalizing the Right to an Adequate Environment: Challenges of Principle

The claim of this chapter is that any state which is constitutionally committed to the implementation and protection of human rights ought to constitutionalize a right to an adequate environment. There are two ways this could be argued.

One would be along the following lines: all human rights ought to be constitutionalized; the right to an adequate environment is a human right; therefore the right to an adequate environment ought to be constitutionalized. As I show in the first section, though, while there is something to be said for this argument, it is nonetheless vulnerable to the objection, directed against its major premise, that there is no reason why all (or even any) human rights ought necessarily to be constitutionalized. I show that this objection can be met, but only by delimiting the category of 'all human rights' so that it includes only those already recognized as such by states in international agreements, which means that the right to an adequate environment no longer falls unequivocally under it. I also emphasize, though, that the argument advanced on this basis is problematized rather than completely defeated, since circumstances can be envisaged under which the right to an adequate environment did receive the requisite recognition.

Nevertheless, to make a case with more immediate applicability, the rest of the chapter relies on a different supporting argument for its central claim, namely, that regardless of what reasons

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