Protection of the environment in international courts: recent decisions open new avenues for mass claim processes

2 janvier 2018

Two significant jurisprudential developments published last month have shed light on important questions relating to the protection of the environment in international law. They are of particular interest to States, businesses and civil society groups since they open up a range of possibilities when it comes to assessing environmental damages in inter-State disputes, expanding the scope of human rights obligations to extraterritorial situations, and deriving procedural rights from existing human rights instruments, among other matters.

On 7 February 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the “IACtHR”) published a landmark advisory opinion (OC-23/17 of 17 November 2017) recognizing for the first time that environmental degradation affects the effective enjoyment of human rights.
The advisory opinion was rendered in response to a request made by Colombia. It examined two main issues (1) the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction to environmental obligations and (2) the relationship between human rights and environmental harm.

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