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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses the prospects and limits of human rights as ethical constructs and political mechanisms for protecting against forms of environmental harm that threaten human well-being. Advantages of a rights-based ethical framework include the linking of ethical norms of environmental protection or stewardship with international law and commitments to promoting humanitarian objectives, which provide those norms with an institutional foundation and help narrow the gap between environmental imperatives and those with global justice imperatives and development objectives. It considers the role of recognized human rights in efforts to better guard against anthropogenic environmental harm as well as specifically environmental rights that have been proposed for inclusion alongside them, and it finds rights to confer more political advantages through the social empowerment of right holders and linkage with rights-protecting institutions than philosophical ones in clarifying or motivating the obligations of individual or collective agents.

Keywords: human rights, international law, environmental harm, moral responsibility, climate ethics, Stockholm Declaration, environmental rights, Responsibility to Protect

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