Transformative capacity building around a right to a healthy environment: what role for dignity as a human rights value?

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Abstract

For decades, scholars have explored the potential merits and risks of a formal, self-standing human right to a healthy environment. While some have advocated this right in a way that may be perceived as too 'thin' to connect to local experiences, others have critiqued it in a way that may be perceived as too disconnected from the benefits of human rights processes. In this article we discuss ongoing experiences in Scotland, where a new national human rights framework is being developed. Drawing on this experience, we highlight methods of capacity building as a different channel for thinking about the potential merits of new articulations of a right to a healthy environment, and for developing understandings of this right's substance applied to specific contexts. Specifically, we reflect on the potential role of the foundational human rights value of respect for dignity as an anchor in capacity building around the right to a healthy environment. We explore an idea of capacity building which facilitates local-level ownership over international human rights law and underpinning values and is focused on implementation. We suggest that this kind of ethos as part of mutual learning and alliance building should be further explored as a means of creating lasting, positive engagement with a rights-based perspective on environmental protection.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
JournalGriffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • human rights
  • right to a healthy environment
  • dignity
  • capacity building
  • Scotland

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