2013-02-26 Ecological justice and rights.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2137
Cameron Harrington

Ecological justice and rights February 26, 2013 “New wrongs, unimagined by our founding fathers, must generate new rights capable of preventing the recurrence of those wrongs.” – Alan Dershowitz, Rights from Wrongs -our preliminary rights are always changing -our interpretation of what our rights are change over time -2013: we talk about the most pressing issues -we must talk about it in terms of rights -there are systemic wrongs being felt -our job is try to overcome those wrongs -whether or not it’s appropriate to talk about rights in terms of the environment Island Nations are already being swallowed up by the sea “It is not an exaggeration to say that climate change is, for us, a matter of life and death." - Sprent Dabwido, President of Nauru -e.g. Climate change -our understanding of climate change: wrongs felt disproportionately by the developing world (Global South) -they are under enormous pressure to support rapidly growing population and they are going to be the one going to feel the impact -Global South aren’t the ones – they didn’t contribute as much as the North -the North created the drive towards globalization -no more stark reality that the islands in the Pacific felt -seas rising = entire countries will be wiped off the map -unless something is done rapidly, then those countries will cease to exist -these countries work together to create a bloc in UN (Pacific states) -more significant action must be done -they are doing it under legal threat -they want international court of justice to intervene: whether countries who pollute have legal responsibility of other countries -ecological damage is a violation of international law -bringing in concept of legal rights -quote: raising stakes of issue to highest possible.... -implications -it’s a matter of human rights that we deal with this issue -human rights violation happen everyday, everywhere -many of them are publicized and received condemnation from countries and organizations -e.g. Mass deportations, ethnic cleansing – spark international tension -some more insidious – human rights ignored, may not resonate with our visual world -environment* - effects of environmental change not visible in day-to-day ; unlike genocide, ethnic cleansing etc. -issue of environment and rights are becoming more intertwined -can they be wrapped up in concrete policy? Possible or desirable to talk about environmental policy in connection with rights? Justice and Rights “Why justice?”  Referring to “justice” is different than labeling something as “good” or “bad”  Using justice brings in additional dimension of fundamental fairness.  It also denotes responsibility/obligation to uphold fundamental rights.  How far do these rights extend?  To future humans?  To non-humans? -we label things good and bad all the time -but what does it mean when we bring up the word, justice? -bringing in word justice doesn’t mean characterizing something as good or bad, right or wrong -but is it unjust? -justice: involves pre-existing relationship -entitlement between two or more people; when that relationship breaks or is violated, that is when justice comes in -appeal to fundamental fairness -there has to have been a pre-existing relationship* -when it’s broken = then it’s unjust -justice: highest level we can appeal to -justice denotes obligation -when we invoke justice, it means those..... -there’s a moral obligation to do so -inaction/failure to act = unjust, then they are held more accountable -they failed to do what they must do -moral and potentially legal obligation -applying a justice standard, we are investing to recipients a fundamental right -concept of rights and justice meet -appeal to justice = appealing to justice of rights -whether or not the person has right to claim that right doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist?? -all humans have rights – even infants are given rights -justice and environment -Earth has rights – where does obligation lie? -people? States?... -strengthens accountability and responsibility of states, corporations, NGOs -appeals to moral obligation -moral obligation to act nice -e.g. If you’re not a nice person, it doesn’t make it unjust -you have legal responsibility to not act – moral obligation is not enough -you need to reach a higher level -is it possible to extend rights to the future generations? -they can reap the rewards and use environment -we are extending rights to future generations -non-humans: animal rights, mother Earth -is it desirable to extend human rights to unborn? -are rights justified....or are they something else? -rights innate, built in -rights exist, they don’t hurt you or nor benefit you History of International Environmental Justice  Human rights trace their roots to specific historical wrongs. (no specific mention of environment)  UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948)  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)  International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966) -progression of human rights discourse -our attention to it – been around a few decades -most people bring up history of human rights by listing historical wrongs committed -human rights brought up after WWII -Declaration of Human Rights -International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -rapid growing awareness of appreciation and expansion on the topic of rights -no specific mention of the environment in any of those documents -only implicit level; not explicit -”everyone has the right to a standard of living, adequate for the health....including food...” -doesn’t state we have right to a healthy environment -what if the document didn’t have the right to standard of living? History of International Environmental Justice  First mention of human right to healthy environment – Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring” 1962 “If the Bill of Rights contains no guarantees that a citizen shall be secure against lethal poisons distributed either by private individuals or by public officials, it is surely only because our forefathers, despite their considerable wisdom and foresight, could conceive of no such problem.” -first written suggestion of human right to healthy environment – Rachel Carson -the problem is that we didn’t know about the right to healthy environment at the time when the Bill of Rights was drafted -we implicitly knew about it, but we just didn’t think about it History of International Environmental Justice 1972 Stockholm Declaration: Principle 1 Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. Principle 2 The natural resources of the earth including the air, water, land, flora and fauna and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate. -first and second environmental conference in Stockholm -accorded the right to healthy environment -accompanying responsibility of upholding that right -our ideas of good conditions of life cannot be achieved without a healthy environment -it’s necessary to build human rights -ndportant connection made first time – extending to future generations 2 Principle -representative samples of ecosystem -we have a responsibility to uphold quality and quantity of water, flora, fauna, etc. -we have a responsibility to act and protect -reaction: positive – first time connections to environment being made (explicit) -negative: it’s not legally binding History of International Environmental Justice  1972  1987  1992  2002  2012 All should be familiar dates by now -1972 - -1987 - Sustainable Development -another step towards rights and environment brought together -1992 – Rio Summit -2002 – Rio +10 -2012 – Rio +20 -landmark environmental conferences – pushing human rights and environment Environmental Justice - Categories 1. Narrow Environmental Justice (Intra/Inter generational + Global/N-S) 2. Broad Environmental Justice (Intra/Inter generational + Global/N-S) 3. Ecological Justice (Intra/Inter generational + Global/N-S) -narrow environmental justice -broad environmental justice -ecological justice Narrow Environmental Justice (Liberal View)  Shares much with liberal approaches to politics/economics:  Focus on distributive justice  Central unit of concern is the individual  Support democratic structures  Free market and autonomous global economic relations  Current system should be expanded – it works, and it is unlikely that systemic change will come anytime soon anyway. -narrow environmental justice -arguing that we need to privilege human needs, wa
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