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9. Human rights and environmental issues



The relationship between the development of science and technology and human rights has already been on the agenda of various United Nations' bodies for two decades. Different aspects of the problématique have been studied and many reports produced. The purpose of this paper is not to trace the history of the United Nations' work on the questions or to dwell at length on the human rights probIématique, a field in which a rather rich literature exists. Its aim is to shed more light on the problem, primarily from the point of view of international law and the environment, having in mind the main goal of the study undertaken by the United Nations University in accordance with the invitation of the UN Commission on Human Rights (Res 1986/9).


We humans are, as Virginia W. Rasmussen put it, technological creatures and "tinkering is our nature."2 Tinkering with nature is, unfortunately, not always done intelligently enough to avoid its impairment. People are not aware, or not aware enough, of the consequences of ecologically unsound activities. Many such activities, and primarily those linked to the improper use of science and technology, are going on in the world, causing deforestation, desertification, pollution of air, water, and land, damage to many plant and animal species and threats to other renewable as well as non-renewable resources of our planet.

Homo sapiens "has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. Both aspects of man's environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights - even the right to life itself."3 W.J.M. Mackenzie wrote that "man had been too successful as an animal; . . . by his ever accelerating growth in numbers and skills he threatened his environment and therefore (as the laws of population ecology require) his own future as a species."4 Man's ability to change his environment for better or for worse is, by the way, not a new development at all. Already prehistoric man could, by using fire for instance, drastically change his environment "intentionally or by accident." "The traces of man-made fires lie over the whole prehuman world."5 it is not strange that modern archaeology is concerned, besides other things, with ecology.


The ecological awakening of the early 1970s which culminated in the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, was the result of scientific research which proved that the state of our environment was to a lesser or higher degree impaired (in some cases alarmingly). The impact of this discovery was felt first in the academic community, but later on by others as well. Gradually, practically all scientists, most politicians and other decision-makers, as well as the general public, accepted the idea that our environment was in danger and that something had to be done. General legal principles (at least some of them) were relatively easily developed and accepted, at least formally. It was quite a different task, however, to undertake practical steps toward protection and improvement of the environment, on both national and international levels. Economic, political, military, and other interests often collided with the environmental issue. Besides, even scientists themselves had different views on the very complex problématique of environmental protection on one side and on the human rights problématique and other cognate domains on the other.


Our intention is certainly not to review the whole of environmental law, which has during the last two decades evolved into one of the most dynamic and expanding branches of international 6 as well as national law, but to reconsider only some problems which are more interesting than many others from the standpoint of the human rights problématique. It should be stressed, however, that all regulation in this field impinges directly or indirectly on human rights. It may be action against desertification, attempts to lessen or stop acid rain, better control of food production, efforts to make human settlements more habitable, or any other activity in the vast field of the environment, but it always protects or improves some human right.

Although this development has been rapid it is still inadequate in many fields, in spite of the fact that basic principles have been developed. Serious efforts at regulation in a more concrete way (by international conventions, by institutional arrangement, and in other ways) must be undertaken, on a global, regional, sub regional, or bilateral basis. That means more concrete legal regulation at all levels, as well as additional work on elaboration of basic principles, and in the first place of the principle of "liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage," as formulated in the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Principle 22). Besides that, it should be kept in mind that states are responsible not only towards other states and the international community as a whole, but also towards their own citizens, who have the right to a healthy environment.

The enjoyment of all human rights is closely linked to the environmental issue. Not only rights to life and health in the first place, but also other social, economic, cultural, as well as political and civil rights, can be fully enjoyed only in a sound environment. And certainly, to go to an extreme, they cannot be enjoyed at all if the environment becomes impaired beyond a certain critical level. The whole of mankind could in such a case perish together with all its civilization, including human rights. The worse the environment becomes, the more impaired are human rights, and vice versa. That is the reason why there is the need for sustainable development and that means, in the first place, ecologically sound development of economies, science and technology, and all other fields. This is a sine qua non for both protection of the environment and further promotion of human rights.

Besides the undeniable interdependence between the environmental issue and all human rights, a new human right - the right to an adequate environment - is emerging. This right, still not precisely formulated, appears in documents and in literature, in some cases as a collective and in other cases as an individual human right.


The right to an adequate environment or, as it is termed in some texts, a satisfactory environment, is one of the so-called third-generation or solidarity rights. It can be found in international documents of both a declaratory and formally binding nature, as well as in domestic legislative and other acts of a number of countries, including some constitutions.7 The African Charter, for instance, proclaims that: "All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development."8 In the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) it appears, however, also as an individual right. The Declaration states that: "Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations."9 It appears as an individual right also in the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, which proposes, as one of the legal principles for environmental protection and sustainable development, that:

"All human beings have the fundamental right to an environment adequate for their health and well-being."10 Finally, it should be noted that elements of this right can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in both Covenants,11 although the environment as such is scarcely mentioned in the documents.

It should be added that individuals, as well as groups, not only have the right to an adequate environment, but also the duty to protect and improve the environment. They have this responsibility not only towards other individuals or the community in which they live but towards mankind as a whole and even "future generations."12 It is a responsibility which certainly collides in many cases with the enjoyment of their other rights, be they common citizens or those who, as scientists, technicians, decision-makers or in any other way, are more closely linked to scientific or technological development, environmental protection, health protection, or other cognate fields.


Many questions arise in connection with this right, when it is formulated as a collective right, and some of these questions are similar to the questions concerning other human rights of the so-called third generation In the first place it is not easy to see "how individuals can assert it against states, and so how it can be satisfactorily classified as a human right."13 Besides that, we still do not have a precise definition of the right, whether as a collective right ("the right of all peoples," or of "people," or of all mankind, or of future generations) or as an individual right (right of man or of all human beings). Paul Sieghart believes that in the case of all "third-generation" rights, including the right to an adequate environment, "some formulation will have to be devised whereby each of them can be clearly seen to vest in individuals, to be exercisable by individuals, and to impose precise correlative duties on states so that it can then be interpreted, applied and enforced accordingly."14 It is certainly true that further work on the "third-generation" rights is needed if we wish to improve the whole system of international legal protection of human rights.

Developments in the field of the environment, which are faster than in many other fields, will without doubt contribute to the establishment of a balance, as well as more links, between the first and second "generations" of human rights, as well as clarify the relation between individual human rights and the "third-generation" or collective rights. It is necessary to treat the whole problématique of human rights as a system in which all components are interrelated and play specific and functional roles. We stress the statement in the UN Declaration on the Right to Development that "equal attention and urgent consideration should be given to the implementation, promotion, and protection of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights and that, accordingly, the promotion of, respect for and enjoyment of certain human rights and fundamental freedoms cannot justify the denial of other human rights and fundamental freedoms."15 Further development of the right to adequate environment will certainly contribute to these efforts.

One of the most important measures in the field of human rights is, without doubt, further work on a more precise definition of specific human rights, including the right to an adequate environment. Each of them must be explicitly defined, especially in national jurisdictions. While some human rights are relatively easy to define, others are not. The specific right to privacy, to mention only one example, "had not been explicitly defined in many countries."16 Without setting precise definitions, efficient regulation by legal and other means is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine. It must be added that on the international level, when it comes to their definition, the rights which have newly emerged (like the right to adequate environment or the right to development) and emerging human rights deserve special attention. The work on definitions should be done not only by legal experts but by natural scientists, technicians, and other experts on a multidisciplinary basis. In many cases scientific and technical expertise is needed and various rules, such as ecological standards, are necessary as an addition to the more classical legal definitions and regulations.


The right to an adequate environment, by its very nature, is one of the rights colliding with other rights, in a certain sense actually playing the role of a controlling mechanism for the enjoyment of other rights. In a way it sets the functional limits of all other human rights, especially if the environment is defined in a broader sense, as we believe it should be. In short, if any human activity impairs the environment beyond a certain limit, it should be regarded as an activity producing negative results and be forbidden or changed until it ceases to produce such detrimental results. On the other hand, if human activities do not impair, or if they improve the environment, they should be regarded as beneficial.


Efforts should be continued, especially within the United Nations system, for developing a more efficient machinery for implementation of human rights, on a universal as well as on a regional, subregional, and bilateral basis. That means that the United Nations should be more oriented to practical action, even before any more serious UN reorganization is undertaken. This does not mean, however, "that the legislative process in the field of human rights should be halted, if not ended" at this phase, as some authors believe.17 It seems to us that even some classical human rights could be further developed and more clearly defined.

One of the reasons for this view is the necessity for better protection of human rights from the negative influence of the development of science and technology. Another reason, closely related to the first the impact of the environmental problématique. A third is its essentiality for the whole field of development. Besides, further development of the newly emerged human rights, for instance the rights to adequate environment and to development, certainly requires not only that they be more precisely defined but that they be legally regulated in a more concrete and efficient way. States should undertake a solemn obligation to take part individually and through international co-operation in promoting specific programmes and all other appropriate measures in the field of human rights, having in mind the use of science and technology for further protection and promotion of human rights, the environmental issue, and development in economic and other fields.


International documents of a non-binding nature play an important role in all fields of international relations, and the human rights problematique is not an exception. In many cases they can regulate international relations in a specific field de facto, although they are not formally binding. Besides, they often lead to a higher level of regulation, i.e. international treaties, institutional arrangements, etc. The International Declaration on Human Rights was followed, for instance, by the Covenants, and similar developments occurred in other fields. From that point of view the proposed Declaration on Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments18 could be an important step towards better protection and promotion of human rights. It seems to us that such a declaration should contain, more or less, what has already been proposed by the group of experts convened by the United Nations in Geneva in September 1975, but that an additional effort should be made to link it more closely to development and the environment.

Naturally, one must always have in mind the other side of the coin More so-called soft law does not automatically mean more regulation and further progress in the field. In some cases, it leads to a proliferation of documents with very little or no importance at all, and it could even hinder the process of legal regulation. In other cases, however, including the fields of science, technology, the environment, and some other cognate domains, non-binding norms can be, if functionally well designed, very important and almost universally accepted and applied in such a way as to influence human rights beneficially. Good examples of such norms are formally non-binding ecological standards,19 which are accepted by all or most interested states and other subjects of international law because it is in their interest to do so. The sanction for those who do not apply the standard becomes "functional." That means that the mere fact of not applying them can cause impairment of the environment, loss of profit, health problems, or even loss of life, lessening of political prestige, etc. If adequately set, they could represent an optimal mode of behaviour. In that way, although formally non-binding, they contribute to the protection of the environment, having a directly or indirectly positive impact on the protection and promotion of human rights.


Although this paper is not devoted to the military aspect of the problematique, a few words should be said. There is no doubt that the advancement of military technologies is one of the greatest dangers to all human rights, including the most basic right to life itself. The development of nuclear weapons, and other arms for mass destruction, as well as military technologies in general, poses a very serious threat to the environment and ipso facto to human rights, even if not used at all in war (radiation caused by nuclear tests, pollution produced by the military-industrial complex, impairment of the environment originating from military manoeuvres, etc). In the case of a large-scale use of such weapons, extinction of humankind as well as destruction of the environment, including all or most of life on planet earth, is possible. Production of various other kinds of sophisticated weaponry is in many cases meant more for domestic use (i.e. various kinds of oppression). Introduction of new technologies, be they new weapons or other police devices, used against criminals who by their illegal conduct are impairing the human rights of other members of society, is justified if based on legal procedures and obedience to democratic laws by police and other state services. It is, however, certainly not acceptable wherever such means are used for oppression, based on discrimination of any kind mentioned in Article 2 of both Covenants.

It would be ideal if we could achieve general and complete disarmament and use at least a part of the financial resources thus released "for comprehensive development, in particular that of the developing countries."20 The realities of our time are not in favour of such an ideal solution. General and complete disarmament is still not a thing of the near future, but let us hope that the efforts which are being made will bring at least partial success, more efficient international control and better relations among the two opposing military blocs, as well as the end of various local armed conflicts. Otherwise, especially where nuclear and other weapons for mass destruction are concerned, our future, including further action for protection and promotion of human rights, will not be very bright.

It is interesting to mention, however, that the development of science and technology can help to a certain extent ever before total disarmament is attained. For instance, the "technical progress over the past two decades has reduced the prospects of purely accidental war."21 The same progress, and especially the use of space technology for remote sensing of the earth, is already helping superpowers to control each other, and it will make possible, combined with inspections and other means, the control of any future disarmament plan. Finally, it is interesting to add that in some cases improvement of technology can, even in war, prevent unnecessary human losses and suffering. Joseph S. Nye Jr believes, for example, that the increase of accuracy with which weapons can be delivered "could to reduce reliance on battlefield nuclear weapons and on city-burning strategic weapons. "22


Another important issue covers all potentially very dangerous activities, usually called ultra-hazardous. They could cause (and in many cases have already caused) irreparable damage to the environment. They can cause even a global catastrophe, not only for reasons of technical inadequacy (technical failure of systems which are not well tested, not developed enough, hastily put in use, built without adequate security, etc.), but because of purely human factors like psychic stress, other psychic pathologies, and misperception for different reasons. Even accidents, like the recent disaster in Chernobyl, can give rise to these catastrophes. Very dangerous technologies, as well as scientific experiments, especially those done in vivo, should be legally, morally, and by all other means carefully controlled and, when necessary, forbidden. The faster the development of science and technology, the longer will need to be the list of the strictly prohibited activities.

While it is possible to control and to forbid ultra-hazardous technologies and other activities, the handling of the relevant knowledge itself is quite another question. It is evidently not easy nowadays to control much potentially dangerous knowledge, including the results of laboratory experiments, such as those done in vitro. Such knowledge, once attained, cannot of course be abolished, and is relatively easy, given place, means, and other circumstances (financial and otherwise) to apply in practice. This means that it could be relatively easily transformed into various means and techniques that could be used for military and other purposes hostile to the environment.

There are many questions in connection with this problem which are not easy to answer. Where, for example, does the freedom of scientific research end? Are all experiments In vitro acceptable? In short, where is the red line forbidding further tinkering with nature? It would be impossible, for instance, "to abolish nuclear knowledge without burning all books and all scientists. The prospect for that solution may have passed when the Pope failed to burn Galileo."23


One of the possibilities is to lay greater stress on the duty of both states (i.e. through public authorities acting on their behalf) and scientific researchers themselves "to contribute to the definition of the aims and objectives of the programmes in which they are engaged and to the determination of the methods to be adopted which should be humanely, socially, and ecologically responsible."24 A very important issue in connection with this is the scientist's right to publish research results, including all results relevant to the state of the environment. People have the right to know the real state of the environment,25 and any attempt of state authorities, industrial enterprises, research institutions, or anybody else to keep vital information secret, or not to disclose it completely, is without doubt a violation of human rights. It is especially so when the information is of crucial importance for human existence.26


When it comes to the assessment and control of the development of science and technology, as well as environmental protection, developing countries are in a much worse position than the developed ones. First of all, as a rule, they do not have sufficient numbers of qualified scientists and other skilled personnel, and secondly they lack financial means and laboratory and other equipment. Besides, they do not co-operate sufficiently among themselves, in spite of all declarations to the contrary. In many developing countries the dangers arising from scientific and technological development are not per se regarded as a serious enough problem. Development is sometimes taken as a priority and an excuse for the massive impairment of the environment and violations of human rights. Many mistakes are made, including some of those already made by the developed countries long ago. Weak economies, unstable political systems, military adventures, nonexistent or bad environmental policies, unfavourable climate, the population "explosion," and many other factors only make the situation worse.

The developed countries, instead of increasing their efforts to help the developing countries in all possible ways to overcome their hardships and to make our world a better place for all, are often more interested in their own short-term interests. While giving some aid and financial assistance directly or through international organizations, they allow their firms, and especially some multinational corporations, to use the labour and natural resources of the third world without taking adequate measures for environmental protection. The work of the corporations, at least some of them, often impairs the environment even in the industrialized countries themselves. Their activities could be, as Capra wrote, "altogether disastrous in the third world. In those countries, where legal restrictions are often non-existent or impossible to enforce, the exploitation of people and of their land has reached extreme proportions."27

It has been repeatedly stressed in many important international documents,28 conferences, and other fore, and by distinguished experts, that major changes in international economic and other closely interrelated domains are needed. The World Commission on Environment and Development believes, for instance, that: "Two conditions must be satisfied before international economic exchanges can become beneficial for all involved. The sustainability of the ecosystem on which the global economy depends must be guaranteed. And the economic partners must be satisfied that the basis of exchange is equitable; relationships that are unequal and based on dominance of one kind or another are not a sound and durable basis for interdependence. For many developing countries neither condition is met. "29 Both of the conditions should constitute basic elements of any new international economic order30 any other serious attempt to change international economic relations in general so as to better and improve the position of developing countries in particular. The aim of this article is not to review various proposals for the introduction of a new international economic order, or other ideas for improving the position of developing countries, but primarily to stress the importance of the ecological issue as a basic prerequisite for both the improvement of the economic situation in the world and for the better protection and promotion of human rights.


Certain groups (ethnic minorities, old people, children, people with impaired health, women, the poorest strata of society, etc.) are often endangered more than the rest of the population and therefore deserve special attention. Their rights are violated in many ways, sometimes by subtle means that are hard to detect, sometimes openly and ruthlessly. Not having sufficient financial, political, and other power, and being in some ways already underprivileged and discriminated against, members of the minority groups are, for instance, forced to live in the most polluted parts of cities, are less educated, cannot buy good food and usually consume various kinds of cheap industrially prefabricated "junk food." They are often addiction-prone (narcotics, alcohol, tobacco), are not able to take various steps for countering the negative effects of the development of science and technology (by consuming health foods, by better health care, and in many other usually costly ways), and are not able to protect their rights by legal means, even when such means exist in their society. It is evident, however, that legal means are not sufficient seriously to improve their lot and that other ways and means must be sought, from better education to better health and other services. Probably more important than all these is improvement of their economic, social, and political position in society.


It is evident that one of the basic tasks in the future regulation of this problématique should be further development of appropriate machinery, on both international and national levels, for the assessment of the development of science and technology. That means an approach which is as democratic and, at the same time, as professional as possible. This is not easy to achieve. It is for governments to develop appropriate mechanisms for this assessment (taking into account their domestic, legal, political, and general situation). Governments, especially those of developed countries, are trying to do this by resorting increasingly to the engagement of science and technology advisers. Such advisers already play an important role, even in the foreign policy decision-making processes.31 At the same time traditional politicians and diplomats play an important role in the decision-making process on both the national and international scenes. The engagement of experts does not automatically solve all problems: in some cases the experts, as W.J.M. Mackenzie writes, "speak in fact for vested interests, or they may be totally at a loss and in hopeless disagreement."32 Politicians, for their part, are not, as a rule, expert in science and technology, and are influenced, among other things, by "the demands of political survival."33 All these factors, and many others, play a role in final decision-making in the field of science and technology.

Decisions concerning policy in the fields mentioned are at present usually made in the closed circles of various government offices, other official formal and informal groups and cliques, large industrial enterprises, etc. In most cases they are interested primarily in some kind of profit (financial, political, professional, etc.) while the interests of others, especially in the long term (other companies, other countries, population as a whole, mankind, future generations, etc.) are low on their priority lists. Technical élites,34 closely linked with military, industrial, political, and other circles of power, are often reluctant to disclose their activities. Besides that, the very nature of the development in most fields of science and technology prevents most people even from understanding what is going on. Who is to control scientists and technicians in their highly specialized fields? The old Roman maxim, Quis custodies ipsos custodes, becomes more than ever real. It is evident that further democratization of the decision- and policymaking processes is the best means of, on the one hard, protecting human rights from the negative influences which could flow from the development of science and technology, and, on the other, increasing the beneficial impact of this development.


The right to participate, including the right to be informed (to seek and receive information), in all activities concerning the development of science and technology, as well as economic development, environmental protection, and other cognate fields, is of the utmost importance. "The voluntary and democratic involvement of people in contributing to the development effort"35 by, among other things, taking part in decision-making, formulating policies, and controlling various activities, including those in the fields discussed in this article, is one of the ways to protect human rights from the negative influence of all kinds of deviations in policy-making. Various forms of participation, self-management systems,36 referendums, special parliamentary commissions, public opinion, the mass media (and especially a concerned and inquiring press), professional associations (with their codes of professional ethics), ecological, pacifists and other movements, consumer associations, as well as other formal and informal groups and individuals (including scientists in their role as conscientious people acting independently of the establishment), are only some of the possible ways of making the decision-making process as open and as democratic as possible, and of creating "a beneficial framework for individual and group self-realization, as well as for the healthy connection between state and society."37

There are many problems in connection with the democratization of the decision-and policy-making process. It is true, especially in developed countries, that, generally speaking, "people are sufficiently well educated" to take part in the process of defining goals of scientific and technological development.38 In many cases, however, it is not easy to find experts impartial enough to judge and, if necessary, participate in the reassessment of a potentially dangerous technology or hazardous scientific experiment. This is especially the case in most developing countries, in which there are not enough experts even to properly assess imported foreign technology or chemicals, or to give advice on the extent to which an investment in industry would be environmentally sound. In fact, most developing, and in some fields even a number of developed countries, must rely on foreign expertise if they want to assess a technology or product, and since it is in the financial interest of foreign exporters - who come usually from developed but also from some developing countries - to show their otherwise polluting technology or unhealthy product in the best possible light, it happens that the experts asked to give their judgement are not always unbiased or entirely free of the possibility of bribery. One of the roles of international organizations, especially those belonging to the UN system, is to take part in the process of assessment, as well as to provide interested countries on request with all needed expertise for their development in science and technology and for environmental protection, in an impartial and professional way.


The role of humanitarian law, as another autonomous branch of international law (much older, incidentally, than human rights law), should be given due regard. We share the opinion that "the links between human rights and humanitarian law are real and growing stronger."39 In certain circumstances these two complementary, although still distinct, systems become "convergent and perhaps interpenetrating."40 It is a fact that the International Committee of the Red Cross and the national societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, as well as the Henry Dunant Institute, are increasingly active in the field of human rights, not only in armed conflict but in areas such as health, education, the protection of victims of natural disasters, and the protection of the environment.

It must be noted that serious disasters caused by human activities could be, under certain circumstances, regarded as a "public emergency which threatens the life of the nation," recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 4). Cases like the Chernobyl accident, and other serious industrial accidents which have occurred in recent years, show that such a possibility is unfortunately not merely theoretical. Certain derogations of human rights "strictly required by the exigencies of the situation" could be expected, and international law should guarantee that the derogation does not last longer than necessary and that it does not infringe some of the basic (or sacrosanct) human rights. International co-operation should in such cases play an important role in both the protection of victims of the disaster and in giving proper assistance to the stricken country. Humanitarian law and international humanitarian organizations will certainly play an important role in such situations and the process of further convergence between human rights law and humanitarian law will continue.


The strengthening and better organization of the existing UN bodies, and especially the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Committee, is needed. The establishment of a permanent institution for assessing the impact of science and technology on human rights remains certainly one of the important steps towards better implementation of the steadily growing body of human rights law in general. It is necessary, however, that such a future institution, if established, devote special attention to development as "a comprehensive economic, social, cultural, and political process,"41 as well as to environmental protection, which must naturally be done in co-operation with UNEP and other UN bodies.

Regional development deserves special attention, both from theoretical and practical points of view. Various groups of countries (West European, CMEA countries, American countries, etc.), linked by political, economic, territorial, and other ties, have been developing their own practices, as well as a theoretical base in the field of human rights, which certainly deserve further study and, whenever acceptable and desirable, transference to the universal level. Very interesting, indeed, have been developments on the basis of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950). In spite of the fact that the experiences of the West European countries, which share many political, economic, cultural, ideological, and other similarities, cannot be transferred automatically to others, they at least show that it is possible to improve international co-operation in the field of human rights by using legal means and procedures.

Finally, it is important to add that the experiences of various bilateral bodies, non-governmental organizations, national institutions and international, as well as national, professional associations could also make an important contribution to the development of the protection of human rights, as well as development in other fields, including the environmental issue, which are closely related to the human rights problématique.


More intensive and constructive co-operation is needed in the field of human rights, in science and technology, in environmental protection and in all other cognate fields, as well as general improvement in international relations, as already mentioned. Besides the highly politicized, and without doubt important, questions of disarmament, economic relations, the position of developing countries, armed conflicts in various parts of the world, the situation in South Africa, etc., there are many other possibilities for improvement of international relations in the field of health protection, protection of the environment, and other cognate domains which are only seemingly "of a technical nature." Improvement of cooperation in these areas can make an important contribution in the field of human rights, as well as in other domains, and thus bring about the improvement of the international situation in general.

One of the most interesting and needed areas of possible improvement in international co-operation is comparative research on various aspects of the inequalities in health between different countries. There is a relative shortage of international studies of this kind, even where the developed countries are concerned, because of, among other things, the differences in the standard methods for measuring equality.42 Standardization of these methods and more co-operation in this important field of research are needed.

There are other interesting cases of international "functional" co-operation43 which contribute, to a lesser or greater degree, to the protection and promotion of human rights, and which are closely interlinked with both the development of science and technology and environmental protection. Any successful, or relatively successful, international programme of environmental protection - for example, the Mediterranean Action Plan and the activities concerning the implementation of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Geneva, 1979) - not only makes an undoubted contribution to the protection of the environment in the narrow sense but also produces a beneficial influence in other fields, including political relations. Gradual development of international regimes, based on legal and other means, which "govern various dimensions of economic and social interdependence among states,''44 may reduce the degree of potential conflict and improve the overall co-operation among states.

The vast field of science and technology is certainly the most important of the above-mentioned dimensions of interdependence. The international legal regulation, as well as the regulation by all other acceptable means, of this complex field of activity is of crucial importance not only for international relations, but for the further development, and even survival, of mankind and perhaps all other living creatures on our planet. The closely interlinked human rights and environment problématique is certainly the most important dimension of the process. Without promotion of human rights, from the basic right to life to civil rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to an adequate environment, the development of science and technology cannot rest on firm ground. Only if applied in a humane (and that means, among other things, an ecologically sound) way will it serve its purpose.


The environmental issue undoubtedly adds a new dimension to the problématique of human rights. In the first place, it shows once again that all human rights are closely interlinked, and, secondly, that the problématique of human rights is inseparable from practically all other processes in human society, and especially from economic development and the progress of science and technology. The main conclusion - that the most acceptable model of further development of human society is the model of sustainable development - has its roots primarily in the environmental issue. Policy in all fields of human activity must be environmentally sound. This is especially so in the field of human rights, which cannot be enjoyed without an adequate environment. Further development of science and technology will be beneficial to human society (i.e. it will further promote human rights) only if it is environmentally sound. Besides that, the environmental issue shows in a very clear way that all human rights should be regulated and enjoyed in a balanced way, or to put it better, in a sustainable way. That means that civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social, and cultural rights on the other are needed equally and should be protected and promoted by all means. Finally, the rapid development of environmental law, together with the closely interlinked, and dialectically inseparable, law of sustainable development, are contributing to the development of international law in general and especially human rights law. We fully agree with the statement of His Excellency Judge Nagendra Singh that the efforts of the World Commission on Environment and Development to, inter alia "forge and develop the law governing the environment. . . opens up a new chapter in the history of international law."45 This is so because that effort succeeded in efficiently combining environment and development in the concept of sustainable development.

Naturally, this ecological and holistic view collides with many present human activities, especially in the field of science and technology. A good deal of what is nowadays regarded as the "progressive development of science and technology" has to be reconsidered and changed or entirely stopped. That means also that a good deal of economic activity must be transformed into what is ecologically sound and socially and politically acceptable. Besides that, many other activities, including lifestyles, should be changed, especially in the developed parts of the world. All this, we are aware, is not easy to attain, especially in the short run. The realities of our world will allow only a slow, step-by-step approach but that does not mean that the distant goal of a more ecologically, economically, morally and politically sound, and ipso facto a more just, world order should not be sought.

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