Problems of status identification of human right to a healthy environment

Gintaras Gaidys

Abstract


The aim of this article is to discuss the status of the human right to a healthy environment in Lithuania, answering the question of current status of this right in Lithuanian environmental law. This question is topical and substantial for Lithuanian environmental law doctrine, which hasn’t explained and described the status of such type of right yet. While having no correct explanation of this right, the environmental law doctrine has a gap, which leaves uncertainty at theoretical level, and, consequently, in practice.
The article introduces the right to a healthy environment as such, analyses its essence. The author’s intention is to explain the status of this right in the light of three main points of view: the right to a healthy environment as social, constitutional or environmental right. The first approach explains the right to a healthy environment as a social human right. This position is criticisable, because all other human rights also might be reasonably called social rights, because they are created and developed in society. The second opinion is to consider the right to a healthy environment as a constitutional right; some states of the European Union establish that in their constitutions. However, this point of view is true only if such right directly derives from the Constitution of a particular state. Third position looks at the right to a healthy environment and reasonably links and encompasses environment, environmental protection and human rights as three interrelated elements, concentrated in the content of this right.
Since there are no direct references and no direct statements constituting right to a healthy environment in the Constitution of Republic of Lithuania, the right to a healthy environment is not a constitutional right in this sense. The Convention on Access to information, Public Participation in Decision making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) is the first international legally binding treaty, which introduces the human right to the healthy environment and serves to solve the problem of identification of status of right to a healthy environment in Lithuanian environmental law. This endorses the objectively existing cohesion between elements of environment and the state of human health, depending on the quality of environment, and the necessity to continually
improve the quality of environment. The right to a healthy environment could be defined as environmental human right, which embodies three interrelated elements: human rights, healthy environment and environmental protection. Proper level of environmental protection determines the enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment.

Keywords


environment law; environmental rights; healthy environment; right to a healthy environment

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236