Environmental Law: Human Rights Perspective

To get daily updates, Join Team Attorneylex’s WhatsApp group

Also, check us out on Instagram and Twitter

This article is written by Apoorva Pradhan, a student of Amity Law School, Noida


Environmental protection and human rights are interrelated, interconnected, and commonly responsive as the two of them planned to the prosperity of humanity. Safe and healthy climate is the precondition for the satisfaction in fundamental human rights. The linkage between these two approaches has perceived in different international and provincial instruments, goals of the UN subsidiary association, the result documents of international conferences, and the judicial profession of tribunals, which think about the human rights framework as a successful way to accomplishing the finishes of climate protection. Regardless of the apparent connection between these two, human rights infringement and environmental degradation have been treated by most organizations, governments and even the scholarly world as unrelated issues. Environmentalists have would in general zero in basically on natural resource protection without tending to human impacts of environmental maltreatment. A condition of natural lop-sidedness has been created by numerous human-driven activities like the industrialization, urbanization and the huge scope abuse of natural resources harming the climate prompted numerous genuine repercussions on an enormous scope including Global Warming, drought, flood, environmental Refugees and migration, health issue, Ozone Depletion. Such issues includes not just environmental factors yet different factors also for example political, social, economic factors which requires the integration of the two approaches to handle the issues all the more comprehensively. The consequence of looking these two approaches independently is that the survivors of environmental degradation are unprotected by the laws and systems set up to address human rights abuses. Connecting human rights with the climate makes a rights-based way to deal with environmental protection that puts individuals hurt by environmental degradation at its centre.

Articulating the fundamental rights of people groups with regard to the climate sets out the freedom to secure those rights through human rights bodies in an international discussion just as the public tribunals.

In such manner, the commitment made by the Indian judiciary for the protection of climate and to give solutions for the casualty of environmental hurt by applying the right based way to deal with environmental protection is an unmistakable illustration of how the framework of human rights can contribute in the protection of climate and the actual presence of the humanity. The idea of sustainable development is all around served to interlink these approaches as it including three interrelated measurements: environmental, economic and social. The present examination is proposed to depict the interlink between environmental protection and human rights approaches by investigating instruments, drives taken by environmental and human rights bodies and the judicial declaration of different tribunals.

Further it additionally assesses how far the component of human rights is useful to give solutions for the casualty of environmental degradation and to give better protection to the global climate.

Keywords: Development, Environment, Human Rights, Sustainable Development


A human right, as a general rule, the rights of human creatures. Assuming the climate doesn’t exist, human won’t exist since all humans rely upon the climate which offers right to live, food, water, sanitation, air, a land so it shows that human rights are the rights of human living in a climate or in a roundabout way human right are climate rights. Life, culture, society are fundamental pieces of human and assuming climate annihilated, it additionally obliterate our culture, society. Human rights and environmental law made independently however they have an extremely close connection. Human rights as well as common, political, social, economic rights all assume a successful part in a sound climate. As they progress and development of the world increment, step by step on account of science and innovation, enterprises, nuclear power disintegrate the climate. Presently climate right asked as significant human rights and government, a non-government association both at public and international levels put every one of their endeavours to ensure the climate.

The significance of the climate to the satisfaction of human rights is broadly acknowledged at international law. What is less all around acknowledged is the recommendation that we, as humans, have rights to the climate past what is important to help our fundamental human necessities.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary characterizes Environment as the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (like environment, soil, and living things) that follow up on a living being or an ecological local area and eventually decide its structure and survival.[1]

According to section 2(a) The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the “Climate” incorporates water, air, and land and the between relationship which exists among and between water, air and land, and human creatures, other living animals, plants, microorganism, and property.[2]

Without a doubt, the Environment is significant to the presence and survival of humans. Yet, with the race of time, humans began to misuse the Environment for their own advantages, self-centeredness, and voracity. Deforestation, dumping waste into rivers or lakes, garbage on land, expanding contamination, abuse of natural resources are a few occasions showing the savagery to the Environment by humans. Notwithstanding, humans have perceived its importance with the unforgiving results of the degradation of the Environment and with time. Furthermore, accordingly, the UN made its absolute first official stride in the year 1972, where it coordinated a meeting in Stockholm (Sweden) from 5 June to 16 June. It was an uncommon and remembrance venture towards the Environment, and even presently, the world celebrates 5 June as World Environment Day.

Spotlight on Human rights, these are those basic rights of a person that he inherits from his birth till the finish of his life. These are essential and fundamental rights of an individual, not conceded by any state however perceived at the international level as mandatory rights. A portion of the conspicuous human rights are the right to life, right to work, right to training, and freedom of speech and expression, and so forth Remarkably, Human rights perceive the right to life as a critical fundamental right.

Historic Background

Man, continuing on the way of development has abandoned transformer to transformer and presently to destroyer of the environment. He is advancing constantly and fastidiously. At the same time natural environment is disintegrating. Socio-economic development of man relies upon the environment and this development impacts the environment. Humanity in this way made an intense move and held the UN Conference on Human Environments in Stockholm (Sweden) in 1972 that brought man conclusion to nature. The preamble of it states, ‘the need for a common standpoint and for common principles to rouse and guide the people groups of the world in the preservation and improvement of the human environment.[3]

The declaration makes a historic analysis of the issue of worldwide environment and human rights. It says, ‘Man is both animal and decay of his environment, which gives him physical food and manages the cost of him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and otherworldly growth. The two parts of man’s environment, the natural also, man-made, are essential to his prosperity and to the enjoyment of essential human rights even the right to life itself.[4]

Laws made by national, provincial and local government add to the rights and responsibilities that are part of the constitution and the custom-based law. These laws additionally called legislations should follow the constitution be that as it may, they can amend change the normal hand.

Environmental laws made by the government set out the rights and responsibilities of individuals relating to three overall areas, in particular land use management, pollution carnal and waste management control and natural resources. Environmental laws consequently control different activities, including who can build, what can be build and at the point when they can constructed, who can fish or mine, cut trees and shoot animals, just as when and where this can occur.

The right to work, the right to sufficient norm of living, including food, clothing and housing, the right to healthcare are the prominent human rights those are arranged by different assertions on human rights.

The protection and promotion of the basic human rights is the duty of state. Additionally to protect the environment is essential on the grounds that with the growth of commercialization also, man’s insatiability, over exploitation of environment has become a common feature. This can be checked as it were through proper legislation. So the need is to make such environmental laws those worried to protect global and public environments so that man lives in agreement with nature and achieves his objectives of an innovative and glad life.

Environment Laws As Human Right

The state needs to protect and promote human rights in that state. The official makes new legislation dependent on the requirements of individuals of the nation and their welfare. Environmental laws are those laws that build up a norm of how humans ought to connect with the environment to limit their exploitation. The essential aim of these laws is to protect the environment and aware of the majority.

Essentially, the right to life is a noticeable human right. The right to life has additionally advanced with time. These days, the right to life doesn’t just mean the presence of life, yet it incorporates carrying on with a life with full pride and prosperity, a healthy and fair environment moreover. Indeed, even Environmental rights are known as third-age rights.

These are some unmistakable laws for the Environment. The world has seen a few gatherings and meetings at the international level concerning and offering priorities to the Environment. A portion of the main meetings are;

  • Stockholm Conference, 1972
  • Brundtland Commission
  • Rio Earth Summit (Agenda 21), 1992.
  • Johannesburg Summit 2002.
  • Rio+ 20(2012)

The essential aim of these was sustainable development. Indeed, the Rio+ 20(2012) gave the three pillars of sustainable development. These were;

  • Economic Progress
  • Social Progress
  • Environmental Protection.

Provisions Of Environmental Law In India

Aside from international laws, each country has instituted laws in regards to climate protection, contamination control and so forth In India, there are a few represents climate protection that says protection of climate is the obligation of government. Likewise the reason for state is government assistance of residents and foundation of such a general public that guarantees individuals a human poise a human living lastly an equivalent and accommodating financial relationship. The intermeshing of basic liberties can be seen from the reality that nature and climate are today viewed as control focal point of an individual’s entitlement.[5]

In India a different service in particular The Department of Environment was set up in 1980 to guarantee a sound climate for the country.

Indian Constitutuion’s Stand On The Topic

The Constitution of India likewise gives certain basic rights and duties to its residents. Part III of the Constitution reveres basic rights in it, while Part IV gives major duties under article 51A.

One of the essential rights is the Right to Life and individual freedom under article 21, which has been deciphered a few times with time through the Supreme court decisions.

Article 51A (g) of the Indian Constitution gives to ensure and work on the natural climate, including woods, lakes, waterways, and untamed life, and to have empathy for living animal, as a fundamental duty of the residents.[6]

Part 3 of the Indian Constitution give crucial right which is fundamental for the development of person and without which human is separated from everyone else. Right to the climate is likewise essential for the development of person. Article 21-It expresses that “No person will be denied of his life or personal freedom besides as indicated by the procedure set up by law.” This Article deciphered in different cases by legal executive for protection of the climate. In M.C. Mehta versus union of India, Supreme court expressed that the right to live remembers living for a contamination free climate. What’s more, it is likewise liberated from infections.

Maneka Gandhi versus Union of India[7]: The Supreme Court broadened the translation of the right to life. It perceived that it doesn’t mean only animal existence, yet it is living it to the fullest and right to life implies living in a healthy and healthy environment.

M.C. Mehta versus Union of India or Oleum Gas leak case: The Supreme Court chose the case on the concept of absolute liability when industries are occupied with crafted by very dangerous nature and polluter; the said principle would be relevant even to the private manufacturing plant.[8]

There are some other landmark judgements;

  1. The ganga river case.
  2. Taj trapezium case.
  3. Delhi CNG vehicle case.
  4. Vellore citizens welfare forum vs. Union of India


The Environment is the need for humans, and they should remember this while continuing on their way of purported development. Development doesn’t mean destruction or compromise with the Environment. Individuals ought to understand their responsibilities towards the Environment, its importance for their endurance, and consequently, work on sustainable development absent a lot of abuse of their environmental factors. It is likewise the duty of the state to execute the national and international laws to the ground level in their territories. The government should keep a mind their policies every now and then and record its impact on society and the climate. They should bring new schemes, policies, and rules into their states to advance the circumstance and should zero in on awareness.

It is said that where there is a right, there is a duty and it is the right of a human to utilize climate for their motivation and it happens likewise however it is a duty additionally to work for the climate and around then human become quiet. The human right possibly is protected when our current circumstance is protected and when climate experience then human likewise endure in view of the nearby connection of both.

Interest for the without pollution climate inside the extent of human right arose as bigger degree by the nations of the south against the industrialized north nations in light of the fact that their monetary development dependent on enormous removal of waste materials in air, water and land which is a reasonable breach of the principal right of helpless nations.

Presently it is an exceptionally urgent need to make some severe move for ecological protection and to protect natural resources. Assuming we need to protect our current circumstance then we must be duty toward not right.


There are following suggestions;

  • The nature of human rights in adapted by the human being is relationship with the encompassing ecology. Threats to the climate undermine humanity’s prosperity and the full pleasure in fundamental human rights. The sort of lavish and unsustainable way of life received by created nations is additionally liable for the decay of our current circumstance. As the issue of natural pollution doesn’t perceive the political limit, the world’s poor are compelled to pay the cost for the childishness of others. The human rights approach can stop this event. By centring on equality and respect for singular dignity, an emphasis on regard for human rights has the impact of compelling all leaders to look outside their own circle, to see the human just as the global outcomes of their activities.
  • The Indigenous population frequently experiences the brunt of natural harm and have least admittance to justice and has no job in the decision making measure. This specific truth should be thought about while making policies and program for the security of the climate just as at the hour of permitting and development activities in the space of such population.
  • From the Indian point of view, the right to healthy environment ought to be fused in part III of the Constitution on the line of the suggestion made by the Commission on the survey of the working of the Constitution (National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2002)


[1] “Environment | Definition of Environment by Merriam-Webster.” 2 Oct. 2020, Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.

[2] “Section 2(a) in The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.” Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.

[3] Preamble, The UN Conference of Human Environment (held in Stockholm, Sweden), 1972

[4] Ibid

[5] Environmental Policy Making in India – TERI reports.

[6] “Article 51A(g) in The Constitution Of India 1949 – Indian Kanoon.” Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.

[7] “Maneka Gandhi vs Union Of India on 25 January, 1978.” Accessed 8 Oct. 2020

[8] “Case Analysis: M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Shriram ….” 26 May. 2018, Accessed 8 Oct. 2020.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s