Medjunarodni problemi 2003 Volume 55, Issue 1, Pages: 89-103
doi:10.2298/MEDJP0301089V
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International legal regulation of the right to adequate environment

Vukasović Vid

The article deals with some key issues concerning the evolution of the concept of the right to adequate environment. The evolution took several decades to reach the present state in which it is obvious that the right has been accepted as one of the so called third generation human rights by both doctrine and practice, in international environmental law as well as in national environmental legislation of a number of countries. In the first phase of development only some elements of the right existed within the “classical” human rights (the right to life, the right to health etc.) of so called first and second generation. The turning point was the UN Stockholm 1972 Conference on the environment. The right was inserted in the first principle, of the Declaration accepted by the conference, and already had most of its main elements: the right to adequate living conditions in an environment with the quality that not only guarantees healthy life but a life in dignity and well-being. After the Stockholm Conference, the right was embraced by a part of the doctrine, and increasingly mentioned and discussed within the frame of the UNEP, the relevant UN specialized agencies, as well as by some other international organizations active in the field of environmental protection. The result of this acceptance was an increasing insertion of the right in international treaties as well as in various declaratory documents, on both universal and regional levels. The author devotes a part of his article to the development in Europe, and especially to the work of the Council of Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the EU. The author believes that most important development in Europe occurred within the “Environment for Europe Process“, under the aegis of the UNECE. The result of it was signing of the Aarhus Convention (1998), one of most important international treaties signed until now. First of all, it regulates two important fields - protection of human rights and protection of environment. In it not only the right to adequate environment is explicitly mentioned in the Art. 1, but the main elements of the right are regulated in detail. The three “pillars” of the Convention are devoted to the right to environmental information, the right of citizens to participate in environmental matters and the right to access to justice in matters concerning the environmental protection. It should be added that the Aarhus Convention has become a part of the EU legislation. Due to that, the whole process of implementation of the convention has become unavoidable for all candidate countries, as a proof of their intent to apply in practice environmental legislation and to democratise their societies.

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