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Human rights provisions, particularly constitutional environmental rights, are essential to promoting environmental justice. They provide the basis upon which citizens may challenge and thereby limit government’s potential to abuse its powers to deny the citizenry’s fundamental freedoms, which in the contemporary world we live in includes environmental rights. While an increasing number of national constitutions now recognize the importance of integrating environmental concerns, many do not adopt a rights-based approach. The paper argues that although constitutional recognition is important, there are other factors that may promote or limit environmental justice (particularly in developing countries) such as the reliance on resource revenues for national income, sociopolitical history, judicial activism, and ethnic considerations. These arguments are highlighted by the experiences drawn from four case study countries—Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Papua New Guinea. Although these countries share common political history, hence certain shared values, including respect for human rights, they recognize environmental rights at different levels, arguably as a result of the factors listed above. Adopting a comparative analysis of relevant constitutional provisions that form the basis for the recognition of environmental rights in these four countries, the paper highlights how these provisions contribute to the attainment of environmental (in)justice. While adopting the position and concluding that constitutional (environmental) human rights provisions are important to the promotion and attainment of environmental justice in developing countries, the paper posits that it is essential to draw specific attention to other issues that influence the dynamics of environmental justice in such countries.
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Koen De Feyter, ‘Sites of Rights Resistance’ in Koen De Feyter, Stephan Parmentier, Christiane Timmerman and George Ulrich (eds), The Local Relevance of Human Rights (CUP 2011) 11-39.
Jack Donnelly, ‘The Social Construction of international Human Rights’ in Tim Dunne and Nicholas Wheeler (eds), Human Rights in Global Politics (CUP 1999).
Seigfried Van Duffel, ‘Moral Philosophy’ in Dinah Shelton (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Human Rights Law (OUP 2013) 32-53.
Dan Tarlock, ‘City versus Countryside: Environmental Equity in Context’ ( 1994) 21 (4) Fordham Urb L J 461-494.
Charles Lee, ‘Developing the Vision of Environmental Justice: A Paradigm for Achieving Healthy and Sustainable Communities’ ( 1995) 14 (4) Va Envtl L J 571-578.
Rhuks Ako, Environmental Justice in Developing Countries: Perspectives from Africa and the Asia-Pacific (Routledge 2013).
Gordon Walker, Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics (Routledge 2012) 10.
John Rawls, ‘Justice as Fairness’ ( 1958) 67 (2) Philosophical Review 164-194.
Miller D, Principles of Social Justice (CUP 1999).
Jouni Paavola, ‘Environmental Conflicts and Institutions as Conceptual Cornerstones of Environmental Governance Research’ (Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) Working Paper EDM 05-01 ( 2005)).
Iris Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference (PUP 1990).
Nancy Fraser, ‘Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition and Participation’ in Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth (eds), Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange (Verso 2003) 7-109.
Geoff Boucher, ‘The Struggle for Recognition’ (Lecture delivered at the Hegel and Ethical Politics Summer School ( 2004)).
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 6.
Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logic of Transnationality (DUP 1999) quoted in Boucher (n 12).
William Shutkin, ‘The Concept of Environmental Justice and a Reconception of Democracy’ ( 1995) 14 (4) Va Envtl L J 579-588.
David Schlosberg, ‘Reconceiving Environmental Justice: Global Movements and Political Theories’ ( 2004) 13 (3) Environ Polit 517–540.
Axel Honneth, ‘Redistribution as Recognition: A Response to Nancy Fraser’ in Fraser Nancy and Honneth Axel (eds), Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange (Verso 2003) 110-197.
Schlosberg (n 19).
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 7.
Honneth (n 20).
Jeff Romm, ‘The Coincidental Order of Environmental Justice’ in Kathryn Mutz, Gary Bryner and Douglas Kenney (eds), Justice and Natural Resource (Island Press 2002).
See Luke Cole, ‘Expanding Civil Rights Protections in Contested Terrain: Using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’ in Kathryn Mutz, Gary Bryner and Douglas Kenney (eds), Justice and Natural Resource (Island Press 2002) 187-208; Luke Cole and Sheila Foster, From the Ground up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (NYU Press 2001).
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 10.
Peter Leon, ‘Whither the South African Mining Industry?’ ( 2012) 30 (1) J En & Nat Res L 5-27.
Justin Rose, ‘Country Report: Papua New Guinea’ ( 2011) 1 (1) IUCN Academy of Environmental Law e-Journal 171-181.
Freda Talao, ‘Papua New Guinea: Country Report on Human Rights’ ( 2010) 40 (1) Victoria U Wellington L R 1-24.
Ebrima Faal, ‘Growth and Productivity in Papua New Guinea’ (IMF Working Paper WP/06/113 2006), http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2006/wp06113.pdf accessed 24 May 2016.
See Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, ‘Ownership of Extractive Resources in PNG: Position Paper - February 2012’ ( 2012) http://pngchamberminpet.com.pg/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/We12-05-ChamberPositionPaperOnResourceOwnershipFeb2012.pdf accessed 24 May 2016.
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, section 20.
See Margaret Fubara-Okorodudu, ‘Commentary on the Enduring Democracy and Federalism in a Democratic Nigeria’ (Paper delivered by Hon. Justice Kayode Eso, at the commemoration of Chief F.R.A Williams, CFR, SAN: 60 th Year in Active Legal Practice, February 2004; Olubayo Oluduro, Oil Exploitation and Human Rights Violations In Nigeria's Oil Producing Communities (Intersentia 2014).
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 of 2004.
Suit No: FHC/B/C/153/05 in the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Benin Division.
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 27.
Kotzé L and Du Plessis A, ‘Some Observations on Fifteen Years of Environmental Rights Jurisprudence in South Africa’ ( 2010) 3 (1) J Ct Innovation 157-176.
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 42.
Kotzé and Du Plessis ( 2010) (n 43) 166.
Jan Glazewski, ‘The Rule of Law: Opportunities for Environmental Justice in the New Democratic Order’ in D McDonald (eds), Environmental Justice in South Africa, (OUP 2002) 171-198.
Ako ( 2013) (n 6) 45.
Government of the Republic of South Africa and Others v Grootboom and Others 2001 (1) SA 46 (CC).
(133/98)  ZASCA 9;  2 All SA 381 (A) (12 March 1999).
Kotzé and Du Plessis (n 43) 169.
(1989) AIR 594.
See also Subhash Kumar v State of Bihar (1991) AIR SC 420.
(1988) AIR HP 4.
Andrea Lollini, Constitutionalism and Transitional Justice in South Africa (Berghahn Books 2011).
Act 107 of 1998.
Glazewski (n 47).
(2001) 7 BCLR 652 (CC).
Case CCT 67/06  ZACC 13.
Michael Anderson, ‘Individual Rights to Environmental Protection in India’ in Michael Anderson and Alan Boyle (eds), Human Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection (OUP 1996) 199-226.
Cyril Obi, ‘Globalization and Local Resistance: The Case of the Ogoni versus Shell’ ( 1997) 2 (1) New Polit Econ 137-148.
Rhuks Ako, ‘Environmental Justice in Nigeria’s Oil Industry: Recognizing and Embracing Contemporary Legal Developments’ in Global Environmental Law at A Crossroads R Percival, J Lin and W Piermattei (eds), (Edward Elgar 2014) 160-176.
Gbemre (n 40).
Rhuks Ako, ‘The Judicial Recognition and Enforcement of the Right to Environment: Differing Perspectives from Nigeria and India’ ( 2010) 3 (1) NUJS Law Review 423-445; Eferiekosa Ukala, ‘Gas Flaring in Nigeria’s Niger Delta: Failed Promises and Reviving Community Voices’ ( 2011) 2 Wash & Lee Journal of Energy, Climate, & Env't 98-126.
Kaniye Ebeku, ‘Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment and Human Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection in Nigeria: Gbemre v Shell Revisited’ ( 2007) 16 (3) RECIEL 199–208.
Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/518/2005. The case with facts similar to Gbemre’s case, was held to be procedurally defective on the grounds (among others) that the rights created by the African Charter were beyond the definition ascribed to ‘fundamental rights’ as contemplated by section 46 CFRN and so cannot be enforced by means of FREP Rules.
Suit No W/89/91, Warri HC/26/11/73.
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Honneth A (2003) Redistribution as recognition: A response to Nancy Fraser. In: Fraser N, Honneth A (eds) Redistribution or recognition? A political-philosophical exchange. Verso, London
Kotzé L, Du Plessis A (2010) Some observations on fifteen years of environmental rights jurisprudence in South Africa. J Court Innov 3(1):157–176
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Lollini A (2011) Constitutionalism and transitional justice in South Africa. Berghahn Books, New York
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Obi C (1997) Globalization and local resistance: the case of the Ogoni versus Shell. New Polit Econ 2(1):137–148 CrossRef
Oluduro O (2014) Oil exploitation and human rights violations in Nigeria's oil producing communities. Intersentia, Belgium
Ong A (1999) Flexible citizenship: the cultural logic of transnationality. Duke University Press, Duke
Paavola J (2005) Environmental conflicts and institutions as conceptual cornerstones of environmental governance research. Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) Working Paper EDM 05-01.
Rawls J (1958) Justice as fairness. Philos Rev 67(2):164–194 CrossRef
Romm J (2002) The coincidental order of environmental justice. In: Mutz K, Bryner G, Kenney K (eds) Justice and natural resource. Island Press, Washington
Rose J (2011) Country report: Papua New Guinea. IUCN Acad Environ Law e-J 1(1):171–181
Schlosberg D (2004) Reconceiving environmental justice: global movements and political theories. Environ Polit 13(3):517–540 CrossRef
Shutkin W (1995) The concept of environmental justice and a reconception of democracy. Va Environ Law J 14(4):579–588
Talao F (2010) Papua New Guinea: country report on human rights. Vic Univ Wellington Law Rev 40(1):1–24
Tarlock D (1994) City versus countryside: environmental equity in context. Fordham Urb Law J 21(4):461–494
Ukala E (2011) Gas flaring in Nigeria’s Niger Delta: failed promises and reviving community voices. Wash Lee J Energy Climate Environ 2(1):98–126
Walker G (2012) Environmental justice: concepts, evidence and politics. Routledge, Oxon
Young I (1990) Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton University Press, Princeton
- Mainstreaming Environmental Justice in Developing Countries: Thinking Beyond Constitutional Environmental Rights
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