These are my random musings. Hopefully they will be witty, insightful, and frequently updated.
How will the future affect environmental law?
Published on September 5, 2007 By singrdave In The Environment
In the history of humanity, neither human rights nor the environment have seen such attention. Over the past fifty years, human rights on an international level have been acknowledged at unprecedented levels. The purpose of international human rights law is to protect persons and groups in the face of cruel or abusive treatment at the hands of nations, businesses, or militaries. The institutional abuse that had been a characteristic of past decades has seen a marked withdrawal in modern times. The inexorable tide of globalization has only served to accelerate the advance of international human rights and the codification of standards of treatment and conduct. Similarly, there is a strong need for comprehensive international agreement regarding environmental protection; such regimes should have both the will of nations and the force with which to back such strategies effectively. Each individual state has a responsibility to establish strong domestic environmental policies which will, in turn, bring a cleaner world for all mankind to enjoy.

Just as human rights violators complained against pressure to cease their denigration of human life, polluters similarly chafe at the restrictions placed upon them by outside forces. Nations who emit excessively are being noticed. Chinese emissions are now detectable throughout the Western Hemisphere. Industrial mercury emissions traced to China have been detected in the rivers on America’s East Coast. Like outbreaks of human rights violations in less-developed regions like Darfur, regions and nations choose to ignore international environmental standards, finding them to be too inconvenient, onerous, or burdensome to comply. In the Chinese example, no action was taken to reduce the mercury emissions from said plants; the complicit factories were merely assessed a fine by the government for their noncompliance. Clearly China resents foreign complaints caused from their domestic emissions. Attitudes within Beijing are that emissions are a domestic matter and foreign oversight is unwelcome and redundant. In addition, Beijing feels that international scrutiny interferes with its own ability to govern China. However, the laissez-faire approach which China adopts towards domestic emissions causes alarm bells to sound worldwide. Through the intervention of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international cooperation even such stubborn countries can be brought to compliance. Both NGOs and regimes can provide flexible supervision of compliance and the ability to apply pressure when necessary.

An interesting corollary of environmental legislation is that, as human rights violations enjoy today, perhaps one day environmental cases may be heard as begun by individuals against nations who emit noxious toxins. Just as those who suffer under the abuse inflicted by foreign powers can seek redress under international human rights law, those who suffer from environmental pollutants could also be afforded similar rights. Having such redress on an individual level may have a normative influence on states that obliviously emit. This is probably impossible to get enacted, but it certainly would make things more fascinating.

The state of both human rights and environmental standards are improving but not yet perfect. Just as there is still rampant human trafficking in parts of the world, there are still nations which choose to disregard environmental expectations. As the world moves forward, it is increasingly obvious that we all prosper or suffer together. This is especially true in environmental reality, where nations who emit in excessive levels will affect neighboring or even far-flung nations. The leadership provided by the United States (US) is key to effective environmental regime formation. America’s environmental legislation is among the strictest in the world, and can be used as a model for further growth in international environmental systems. Not all nations are on board, however. Many countries bluntly and shortsightedly deny their emissions affect other nations; further, they resent the interference which comes with environmental legislation. Establishing a regulatory jurisdiction over such noncompliant nations is very important. Violations of human rights affect all mankind on a symbolic level; violations of environmental codes of conduct affect all mankind on a physical level. As globalization progresses, there will be an even more urgent need for compliance with environmental regulatory norms.

on Sep 05, 2007
As you can see, the evolution of international human rights law has a lot to do with the development of environmental law.
on Sep 05, 2007
I see a coincendental relationship, but not a causality one.  You use China to demonstrate a link.  I could show you India where there is no link.
on Sep 06, 2007
I see a coincendental relationship, but not a causality one.

The idea behind this article was to parallel the development of international human rights law with the potential for consistent and far-reaching international environmental standards.