Law integral to Human Rights and Environment agenda

Issue date: 01 July 2010

UWE As the world watches in awe and horror at the environmental and social impact of the oil drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico sharp focus is brought to bear on how people need protection in law that is guided and led by insight into the link between the environment and human rights.

Legal experts from the University of the West of England have launched a scholarly forum including a twice annual journal and a web project that will, for the first time ever in a sustained way, bring together top legal brains in a project reaching out to the global legal academic community and intended to support the new United Nations Draft Declaration on Human Rights and the Environment.

The new journal founded and co-edited by Anna Grear from UWE received glowing endorsement by a leading QC and academic with a formidable international reputation. Professor Philippe Sands, a highly influential international lawyer from UCL with a long time passion for human rights and the environment, said, “This journal is a fantastic development for the intellectual reputation of the UWE Law School.”

The Journal for Human Rights and the Environment (JHRE), the first international journal that creates a dedicated opportunity for scholarly legal discussion on the interface between both arenas, was launched by Professor Philippe Sands on Tuesday 29 June at a conference in the new UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre, hosted jointly by the International Law and Human Rights Unit (UWE) and the Centre for Environmental Energy Law and Policy (Swansea).

Anna Grear said, “The JHRE is the only journal in the world directly addressing the important links between human rights and the environment." The Journal draws together some of the world's most respected international scholars working at the forefront of human rights and environmental issues.

The event also saw the public launch of a related web-project, the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment, through which a group of UWE legal scholars are currently working to support the new United Nations Draft Declaration on Human Rights and the Environment.

Anna concludes,“Human Rights and the environment are fundamental to the entire human and planetary future. The environment is at the foundation, for example, of the human right to life, which makes no sense without a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water and to be 'homed' in a world where we can meaningfully flourish along with the other species that make up our world. Human rights issues directly intersect with environmental degradation. Indigenous communities, for example, exist in a landscape where their culture is embedded. When they are forced to move, they lose more than their homes – they face the eradication of their entire cultural existence. This concern is of particular significance as we witness the compromising of indigenous peoples by industrial practice and climate change pressures, as well as environmental disasters, the wider implications of which are becoming clear in the current scenario in the Gulf of Mexico."

The journal can be accessed at


Editor's Notes

Professor Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands joined UCL in January 2002. He is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals in the Faculty, and a key member of staff in the Centre for Law and the Environment. His teaching areas include public international law, the settlement of international disputes (including arbitration), and environmental and natural resources law.

Philippe is a regular commentator on the BBC and CNN and writes frequently for leading newspapers. He is frequently invited to lecture around the world, and in recent years has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto (2005), the University of Melbourne (2005) and the Universite de Paris I (Sorbonne) (2006, 2007). He has previously held academic positions at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, Kings College London and , University of Cambridge and was a Global Professor of Law at New York University from 1995-2003. He was co-founder of FIELD (Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development), and established the programmes on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the European Journal of International Law and Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (Blackwell Press). In 2007 he served as a judge for the Guardian First Book Prize award.

As a practicing barrister he has extensive experience litigating cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, and the European Court of Justice. He frequently advises governments, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector on aspects of international law. In 2003 he was appointed a Queen's Counsel. He has been appointed to lists of arbitrators maintained by ICSID and the PCA.

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