10 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. 309 (1997-1998)
From Environmental to Ecological Human Rights: A New Dynamic in International Law

handle is hein.journals/gintenlr10 and id is 317 raw text is: From Environmental to Ecological Human Rights:
A New Dynamic in International Law?*
PRUDENCE E. TAYLOR**
I. INTRODUCTION
One of the most interesting developments in international environmental law
in recent years has been the attempt to create links between the ethics debate and
law reform. These attempts began with the recognition that philosophical
discussions concerning the relationship between humanity and nature, and the
moral worth of nature, were not only relevant to understanding the limitations
inherent within current law, they were also fundamental to creating new legal
obligations. As a consequence the language of philosophers began to emerge in
the context of legal discourse. Phrases such as the intrinsic value of nature,
respect for nature, responsibility for nature, and future generational
equity have often found a place in dialogue and writings concerning traditional
and new environmental legal obligations. At the municipal level this trend can be
traced back to the late 1970s, while developments at the international level
occurred more slowly. Nevertheless, by 1991 one of the first texts on interna-
tional environmental law acknowledged that ethical and philosophical concepts
are crucial in understanding the actual nature of environmental law and the
challenge it poses to international law. 1
The task of this article is to consider a link between environmental ethics and
human rights law in the form of ecological rights. The phrase ecological
rights is used here to describe human rights which are subject to certain
limitations. These limitations recognize that individual freedoms are exercised in
an ecological context, in addition to a social context. In comparison, environ-
mental rights refers to the traditional rights approach of granting rights and
creating duties and obligations to the environment, at a level sufficient to ensure
the continued survival of present and future generations of humanity.
The issue of ecological rights encompasses the philosophical theme of the
relationship between humanity and nature, which has been the subject of
* This article is based on a contribution to a research project on ecological human rights, covering human
rights theory, German human rights law, European Union law and international law. This project was funded by
the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (Deutsche Stiftung Umwelt); project leader Associate
Professor Klaus Bosselmann, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
** Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand, LL.B., LL.M. (Honours), LL.M.
(Environmental and Energy). Author of AN ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL LAW: THE CHALLENGE OF
CLIMATE CHANGE (1998).
1. ALEXANDRE C. Kiss & DiNAH SHELTON, INTERNATIONAL ENVIROMENTAL LAw 13 (1991).

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