oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Human rights and environmental law: the case for a conservation bill of rights
The environment has been descriptionbed as the house created on earth for living things, ecology as the science of planetary housekeeping, and, building on these definitions, environmental law as the law of planetary housekeeping - as such environmental law is concerned with protecting the earth and its inhabitants from activities that upset its life-sustaining capacities. It is in this context of planetary housekeeping that it is submitted that the right to environmental integrity is a basic human right deserving of legal protection at the highest possible level, and that is by constitutional entrenchment. This submission is postulated on the following premises, namely that there is an urgent need to halt and, if possible, reverse environmental degradation; and the law has a primary function to play in controlling environmental debasement, albeit a complementary role to the roles played by education, economics and administrative policy. The roles of the executive branch of government andof the courts in the protection of the environment are briefly reviewed in this article. It is submitted that there is a clear need for adoption of the constitutional option of entrenching a conservation ethic in a bill of rights, as opposed to mere declarations of policy as envisaged in the Draft Bill on Environment Conservation.
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