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3 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. 85 (1990)
The Legal Obligation of the International Community to Guarantee a Pure and Decent Environment: The Expansion of Human Rights Norms

handle is hein.journals/gintenlr3 and id is 89 raw text is: The Legal Obligation of the International
Community to Guarantee a Pure and Decent
Environment: The Expansion of Human Rights
Norms
W. PAUL GORMLEY*
I. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT: BHOPAL,
CHERNOBYL, VALDEZ
The right of private individuals to be guaranteed a decent and safe envi-
ronment is one of the newer rubrics of human rights law that has been recog-
nized since the 1970s. Beginning with the Conservation Year Observances
by the Council of Europe,1 and culminating with the Stockholm Declaration
in 1972,2 it became apparent that legal entities had acquired environmental
rights that were in desperate need of implementation.3 Regardless of the sta-
tus of specific rights deemed to be erga omnes,4 the recent tragedies at Bho-
pal, Chernobyl, and Valdez demonstrate that law does in fact exist without
an effective remedy. But, regrettably, the law and standards applicable to
* A.B. San Jose State University; M.A. University of Southern California; Ph.D. University of
Denver; J.D., LL.M. George Washington University; M.Int.-Comp.L., D.Jur. Free University of
Brussels; LL.D. Victoria University of Manchester. Member of the District of Columbia and
United States Supreme Court bars. Formerly, Leverhulme and Simon Fellows, University of
Manchester, England.
1. THE MANAGEMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN TOMORROW'S EUROPE: EUROPEAN CONSER-
VATION YEAR 1970: PROCEEDINGS OF THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATION CONFERENCE, Stras-
bourg, Feb. 1-2, 1970 (1971) [hereinafter EUROPEAN CONSERVATION YEAR]. See W. GORMLEY,
THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO BE GUARANTEED A PURE, CLEAN AND DECENT ENVIRONMENT:
FUTURE PROGRAMS OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE, 1975/I LEGAL ISSUES OF EUROPEAN INTE-
GRATION 23-65 (1975). Subsequently the European Communities perfected sophisticated environ-
mental regulations, particularly concerning air and water pollution. See also Dauses, The Protection
of Fundamental Rights in the Community Legal Order, 10 EUR. L. REV. 398 (1985). See generally,
B. Ramcharan, The Role of Regional, National and Local Institutions Future Perspectives in
Human Rights, in THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION 233-48 (B. Ramcharan
ed. 1979).
2. Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, U.N. Doc. A/C.48/14,
and Corr. 1 (1972) [hereinafter UN Conference on the Human Environment]. See generally, Mc-
Dougal, Lasswell & Chen, Environmental Factors, in HUMAN RIGHTS AND WORLD PUBLIC OR-
DER 38-44 (1980). See also, Symposium: Ten Years after Stockholm - International Environmental
Law, AM. SOC'Y INT'L L. PROC. 411-35 (1983).
3. This fundamental theme was advanced in W. GORMLEY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND ENVIRON-
MENT: THE NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION (1976) [hereinafter W. GORMLEY,
HUMAN RIGHTS]; accord T. VAN BOVEN, PEOPLE MATTER: VIEWS ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN
RIGHTS POLICY (1982).
4. Discussed in THE RIGHT TO LIFE IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (B. Ramcharan ed. 1985) [herein-
after RIGHT TO LIFE].

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