GEOS5501: Human Rights and the Environment
Credit points: 6
Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Jo Gillespie
Session: Semester 2
Classes: One 1 hour lecture and one 1 hour seminar per week
Assessment: 3000 word essay (70%), Seminar paper (30%)
Delivery Mode: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) Day
The global community is faced with the collision between environmental degradation and human rights, from oil spill disasters to the disproportionate impact of anthropogenic climate change in the developing world. At the same time we are witnessing an ever increasing demand to meet human rights obligations. Both these phenomena necessitate a re-think of the way environmental conditions are perceived. This unit of study addresses the diverse and complex interaction between human rights and the environment, and examines whether human rights can be secured in degraded or polluted environments. Initially this course explores the role of human rights instruments in addressing environmental issues while also looking at the incorporation of human rights concerns within multi-lateral environmental agreements. The role of a rights based approach in addressing human rights and environmental issues is explored while the tensions inherent in development, conservation and human rights dialogues are considered. Through a series of themed lectures the course explore links between human rights and the environment in terms of development projects including large infrastructure programmes such as dams or resource use such as mining. The implications of a right to water are examined while the complicated issues associated with human rights and climate changes are investigated. The concept of an environmental refugee is studied with reference to vulnerable populations in the Asia-Pacific region. Consideration is also given to the urban environment; especially relevant to participatory or procedural human rights. Links between indigenous groups, the environment and human rights are explored. This course also probes connections between human rights dialogues and forestry; and potential implications of the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) scheme. The course deals with the human rights - environment nexus through a series of lectures and seminars.