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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Time to Wake Up! Pushing the Boundaries in the Americas to Protect the Most Vulnerable


It is time to wake up and push for the protection of the environment and against climate change. Vulnerable communities around the world are living in polluted, highly toxic, and unsustainable environments. It is time to protect them through a human rights-based framework. This article proposes that the Inter-American right to a healthy environment provides the possibility of protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable in the Americas by providing a rights-based framework for them to vindicate their environmental human rights. This article focuses on vulnerable populations who have been historically marginalized and discriminated against and/or who are reliant on the natural resources in their environments. This article posits that the "greening" of human rights, which is the traditional approach to the protection of environmental human rights, is not sufficient to protect vulnerable non-indigenous populations without protection. It is for this reason that we, as a society, must think creatively about environmental human rights advocacy, and create a system that moves forward the development of the right to a healthy environment. We must hold States responsible for their actions and for their support of corporations who exploit natural resources and populations living in them. If we know that so much human suffering is already happening due to environmental harm and climate change, why are we continuing on this path?

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