n South African Journal on Human Rights - Let's work together : environmental and socio-economic rights in the courts

Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Under apartheid poor (black) people and the environment were viewed as antithetical. Poor communities were forcibly relocated to establish or expand game reserves and a range of militaristic interventions were imposed to 'protect nature', often at the expense of human rights.3 The environment was overwhelmingly associated as the preserve of the (white) middle class and was preoccupied with saving plants and animals. Under the post-apartheid dispensation, broad environmental rights are constitutionally-entrenched alongside socio-economic rights. But, to what extent does this imply an amicable, or even an established relationship between environmental and socio-economic rights? This article seeks to begin to answer this question by examining first, the kinds of issues taken up and mobilisation pursued by nascent environmental justice movements such as the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance; and, second, the limits and opportunities of environmental litigation pursued by such movements to date.

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