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Pedro Pablo Silva Sánchez

Institution:University of Bremen
Room:GW 1, room
Phone:+49 421 218 - 66110
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Pedro Silva

PhD project:

The Environmental Dimension of Human Rights Protection in the Americas

Human rights and the environment are inherently linked and depend on one another. Although well-rooted in international environmental instruments, this relationship is not often enshrined in global and regional human rights conventions. A universally agreed right to a sound environment does not exist. Yet, through interpreting general human rights such as life health or property, judicial bodies from the existing human rights regimes, actually, have recognized this inherent relationship. But this so-called “greening” of human rights law process has not followed the same pathway in all relevant systems. While, for instance, the environmental case-law of the European Court of Human Rights has dealt only with individual human rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ has done so only with indigenous peoples’ collective property rights. Human rights bodies however, are not isolated one to another. Arguably, there is a certain cross-fertilization of ideas between them.

This project inquires what the environmental dimension of human rights protection in the Americas is. More important, whether environmental cases involving general individual human rights can be successfully lodged before the Regional System and what could be the Regime’s outcomes. In doing so, by means of a comparative law methodology, similarities and differences between this System and the other global and regional human rights regimes are assessed. In turn, it unravels how far Inter-American Court’s judges utilize comparative law as a tool for the progressive development of regional human rights law.

Through the lens of the Inter-American System, this project addresses human rights interferences arising from localized pollution episodes (national or transboundary) as well as those resulting from global environmental problems, such as climate change. In this context, the relationship between human rights and the marine environment, is analyzed in depth. The impact coastal developments and marine environmental pollution can have in small-scale fishing communities, indigenous peoples, or local coastal communities’ is obvious. Alas, the literature and judicial precedents in the field is scarce.

This work is aimed to diverse clients, at different levels. On the one hand, it will assist different bodies of the American System itself when dealing with environmental matters, while provide other human rights regimes and international entities an open access to information on the Inter-America System’s environmental developments, all in one systematized document, and in a common language, English. This in turn, may incidentally facilitate further convergences between other human rights judicial bodies and the Inter-American Court. Most importantly, this is a guide for individuals and NGOs seeking to bring their environmental claims before the Inter-American Human Rights System.

Thesis committee:

Prof. Dr. Gerd Winter University of Bremen
Dr. Till Markus University of Bremen
Prof. María Teresa Infante Caffi University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
Prof. Dr. Henning Jessen University of Hamburg