Dr Stefan Theil’s recently published book argues for the recognition of a comprehensive framework that addresses the relationship between human rights and environmental harm. Stefan joins Sidney as a Thornely Fellow and Director of Studies in Law.
In Stefan's recently published book, Towards the Environmental Minimum (Cambridge University Press, 2021), he explores the implications of environmental degradation and pollution for domestic and international human rights and demonstrates how such a human rights-based approach can strengthen environmental protection without requiring radical departures from established protection regimes and legal principles.
The core objective of the book is to address the gap between rhetorical commitments to a healthy environment and the reality and limitations of existing environmental regulations. The book rejects the fashionable critique that tackling environmental harm necessitates a radical departure from established legal categories and principles. Instead, the environmental minimum provides an attractive and practically viable framework that permits a principled and consistent application of human rights to environmental harm: whether in a domestic or international legal context.
The argument is bolstered through a comprehensive dataset of the environmental judgments under the European Convention on Human Rights and other regional and international human rights regimes: the dataset is freely available for research and educational purposes on Stefan’s ResearchGate profile.
Stefan commented, “Serious environmental pollution presents a fundamental challenge to any commitments to human rights because their meaningful enjoyment ultimately presupposes basic environmental guarantees. This is true regardless of whether one assigns an instrumental (economical) or an intrinsic (moral) value to the natural environment: it is abundantly clear that the current levels of pollution and degradation cannot continue without jeopardising the long-term survival of humankind.”
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