Implementation And Evaluation of Human Rights Norms in Environmental Protection in Nigeria

Implementation And Evaluation of Human Rights Norms in Environmental Protection in Nigeria


This research work examined the enforceability of human rights norms in environmental protection. And critically reviews the functionality of human rights law in environmental protection and how it can be made to drive enforceability in order to reduce the impact of environmental stressors. The work treats the legal literature and theory of Environmental law and Human rights –and factors of enforcement of human rights law in Nigeria .It establishes that several theories have emerged, and a plethora of them have considered environmental human rights to be those rights that are within the realm of non- derogablerights. Making reference to the impact of international law stressors such as sovereignty, requirement of municipal ratification with particular reference to section 12 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the conservative and narrow interpretations of human rights law provisions that stress the enforceability of human rights norms in environmental protection, the paper surveys and maintains a well- balanced assessment of specific instruments such as, in the global setting, the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development (1986), the United Nations Charter (1945)”, among others; and in the regional setting, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1981) as domesticated in Nigeria by Cap.10 LFN 1983 and subsequently by Cap A9 LFN 2004 among others, and significantly, the Fundamental Rights(Enforcement Procedure) Rules (2009) and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, including their policy consciousness, functionality and limitations. The key question that needs an answer is whether and to what extent Nigerian law guarantees applicability of human rights norms in environmental protection? In an attempt to answer this question, we examined the extent to which domestic laws reflect the aspirations of global environmental norms and means by which they are structured. The problem is settled with an answer to a fundamental question. First, to what level of enforceability are the policies emanating from these non- derogable laws, directly and practically implemented and applicable in Nigeria? This study therefore discovers that even with the applicability of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights amongst other associated laws which have been enhanced by the provisions of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules (2009), compliance to, and enforcement of environmental rights  in Nigeria remains challenging.
  • Background of the Research

The importance of observing human rights in any legal system and its significance cannot be overemphasized. Notably, one of the lessons  of  globalization  and  the new international economic order is the increasing awareness that  the enforcement  of human rights is a cornerstone in the realization of sustainable development, nationally and internationally. To this end, looking at the concept and nature of sustainable development, and what it professes, the importance of a  legal  system lies not only in ensuring civil liberties but in addition creating a viable environment where economic development and social equity can be enjoyed.


Nigeria has ratified plethora of human rights treaties that seek to  set globally  applied standards. Some of these standards, especially in recent times  are  not limited to civil liberty domain rather they serve as prelude to the realization of both socio-economic, cultural and solidarity rights  which make room for the realization  of sustainable development . These rights in essence form the new international economic and legal order and thus emerges the concept of sustainable development which “environmental law’’ seeks to promote.


Within the context of environmental law however,  are  the  ontological  and historical dimensions. These dimensions depict a mother-child correlation or evolution theory. It is established that human rights of the second and third generations which of course, are developed from that of the first generation, all as reminiscent of natural law, are now being codified with minimum standards. These standards areraised by international law and made tangible by municipal law. Thus, emerges the consciousness that there are environmental rights, such as the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to development, the right to participate in  the developmental and approval process, the  right  to  environmental  information, the right to compensation and the right of access to justice. They are however, the corollaries of the right to life.


In addition to this development, in 2012, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have strengthened their collaboration in the field of the

nexus between human rights and environmental protection during the  United  Nations conference on sustainable development. In the same year, the United  Nations Human Rights Council as part of its special procedures appointed an Independent Expert on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and appointed Professor Knox to this position. In line with his appointment as an Independent Expert and as a part of his obligation, in 2014, at the regional level, a consultation was made by the  Independent Expert on the constitution of environmental rights at Johannesburg, South Africa. The consultation was convened by the United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and environment and the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) and the legal Resource Centre (LPC).1


This studytherefore analyzes the standard of observation of environmental rights in Nigeria, and challenges of enforceability in order to develop animproved legal framework for applicability of environmental rights in Nigeria. We would seek to determine to what extent Nigerian legal system implements and enforces these natural law rights.

Statement of Problem

There has been much concern by Nigerian citizens and advocacy groups who have raised issues and cast aspersion on the environmental impasseand thereaction of people towards corporate attitude in curbing environmental hazards resulting from industrial activities.A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on the pollution of environment in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria, as well as the serial conflicts between host communities, federal agencies and the industrial community, illustrates a lucid account of human rights problems in relation to environmental protection. This looms large in the oil and gas industry

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