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28 Stan. J. Int'l L. 103 (1991-1992)
Human Rights, Environmental Rights, and the Right to Environment

handle is hein.journals/stanit28 and id is 111 raw text is: Human Rights, Environmental
Rights, and the Right to
The United Nations plans to hold a world conference on the
global environment in 1992,1 followed by a similar conference on
the promotion and protection of human rights in 1993.2 In con-
vening these meetings, the international community will confirm
its fundamental concern about both subjects. As the conference
agendas develop, the interrelationship of environmental protec-
tion and human rights moves to the forefront of international
A growing number of global and regional human rights in-
struments4 and national constitutions5 include a right to environ-
* Professor of Law, Santa Clara University; Visiting Professor of Law, Stanford
University (1991). The author wishes to acknowledge and thank Alexandre Kiss for his
generous assistance.
I The United Nations will convene the two week Conference on Environment and
Development in Brazil to coincide with World Environment Day, June 5, 1992. G.A.
Res. 228, U.N. GAOR, 44th Sess., Supp. No. 49, at 151, U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/228
2 G.A. Res. 156, U.N. GAOR, 44th Sess., Supp. No. 49, at 231, U.N. Doc. A/RES/
44/156 (1989) (providing the legal basis for calling the conference).
3 International protection of human rights is a key function of modem interna-
tional organizations. The U.N. Charter, for example, provides that one of the purposes
of the United Nations is to achieve international cooperation in solving international
problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character and in promoting
and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without
distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. U.N. CHARTER art. 1, para. 3. Major
United Nations action on environmental issues began with the organization of the first
Conference on the Human Environment, held in 1972. G.A. Res. 2398, U.N. GAOR,
23rd Sess., Supp. No. 18, at 2, U.N. Doc. A/7218 (1968).
The General Assembly is currently considering redesigning the administrative
structure of the United Nations. The proposal envisages four major departments: polit-
ical and security affairs, humanitarian and human rights issues, development and envi-
ronmental questions, and management and finance. See U.N. Considers Increasing Power of
Secretary-General, S.F. CHRON., Sept. 17, 1991, at A8.
4 See, e.g., United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25, U.N.
GAOR, 44th Sess., art. 24, U.N. Doc. A/RES/44/25 (1989), reprinted in 28 I.L.M. 1448
(1989); Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area

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