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Constitutional Environmental Human Rights: A Descriptive Analysis of 142 National Constitutions


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  • Christopher Jeffords

    (University of Connecticut)


This paper provides a detailed keyword analysis of the 142 out of 198 national constitutions that include at least one reference to the environment as of 2010. Out of these 142 constitutions, 125 contain provisions that are explicitly related to environmental human rights, and ten include a direct human right to water. Focusing mostly on the language of the provisions and the age of the constitutions (not the age of the provision itself), the analysis provides insight into the extent to which countries are taking environmental human rights seriously. The findings note that constitutions that reference the environment are, on average, generally younger in age than those that do not. This is also the case for developing versus developed countries, and Non-OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) versus OECD member countries. Constitutions that have a direct human right to water are, on average, even younger. The paper also develops a simple index of the legal strength of constitutional environmental human rights provisions and offers the data as an alternative, positive (versus subjective) specification to a similar set of data compiled by the Toronto Initiative for Economic and Social Rights (TIESR).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute in its series Economic Rights Working Papers with number 16.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:ecriwp:16

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Postal: University of Connecticut Thomas J. Dodd Research Center 405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205 Storrs, CT 06269-1205
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Fax: 860-486-6332
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Related research

Keywords: Constitutions; Environmental Human Rights; Human Right to Water;

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  1. Aaron Lercher, 2007. "Are There Any Environmental Rights?," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 16(3), pages 355-368, August.
  2. Richard B. Howarth, 1997. "Sustainability as Opportunity," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 73(4), pages 569-579.
  3. Barrett, Christopher B., 1996. "Fairness, stewardship and sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 11-17, October.
  4. Padilla, Emilio, 2002. "Intergenerational equity and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 69-83, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Susan Randolph & Patrick Guyer, 2011. "Tracking the Historical Evolution of States' Compliance with their Economics and Social Rights Obligations of Result: Insights from the Historical SERF Index," Economic Rights Working Papers 18, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.


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