Since 1972, the international community has come to recognize environmental quality as a basic human right. From international human rights bodies, to regional human rights tribunals, to domestic courts, decision-makers around the world have acknowledged the profound connections between human rights and the environment. At least three approaches to environmental rights have been recognized including procedural environmental rights, the independent "right to a healthy environment", and the recognition of environmental violations of existing rights, such as the right to life. A fourth emerging category of environmental rights concerns rights for the environment itself, otherwise known as "Rights of Nature". This seminar will survey the evolution of human rights and international and domestic state levels and forecast its future development in the coming years.
About the speaker
Lynda M. Collins is a Professor with the Centre for Environmental Law & Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. Professor Collins is one of Canada's leading experts in the law and policy of toxic torts. She has practised toxic tort litigation in Canada and the US, at both the trial and appellate levels. Professor Collins has published widely on a variety of issues in toxic torts, with a particular focus on the law of toxic causation. She has testified in environmental hearings at the Canadian House of Commons and Senate and at the European Parliament and consults with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations. She served as Co-Chair of the Province of Ontario's Toxics Reduction Scientific Expert Panel.
Professor Collins is also an expert in the domestic and international law of environmental human rights. She has published on a range of issues in this area including constitutional environmental rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Aboriginal environmental rights, and the environmental rights of future generations. She is particularly interested in the interplay between the Precautionary Principle and the protection of environmental human rights. Professor Collins has consulted with a number of domesitc and international organizations, including various UN organs, on the development and implementation of environmental human rights.
Before entering academia, Professor Collins practiced with Ecojustice Canada, litigating major environmental cases in tribunals ranging from the Ontario Municipal Board to the Supreme Court of Canada. From 2003 to 2005, Professor Collins practiced toxic tort with a leading San Francisco law firm representing state and local governments in complex multi-district litigation against the oil industry to recover damages for drinking water contamination.