Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ecocide and human rights

An interesting angle on human rights and the environment

Last week I worked with my Year 12 Society and Culture students on presenting an oral as an advocate for human rights. Matthew, one of my students developed a paper  that argued that the ultimate human right is the protection of the environment. Only a night or two before I had watched David Suzuki on Q&A argue a similar line when he said:

"I believe what's going on now is criminal, our activity, because it's a crime against future generations," Suzuki said. "And there ought to be a legal position of inter-generational crime. And I think there's criminal negligence."

Here is the transcript of the oral Matthew presented to the class with great passion and thought. An interesting and I would say important angle when we talk about human rights, particularly in a geography class!

Human Rights: more than just sweatshops!

The right to life is our most important right of all. Without it, all others rights do not exist.
Article 3 of The Universal declaration of Human Rights states: 

‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’

This is a right that all human beings are entitled to.

Of course, with all rights come responsibilities. However, we as humans have neglected our responsibility of ensuring that this right to life is passed on to future generations.      
Now this may sound a tad extreme, but we are destroying the future of future generations and our most important asset of all, the environment. 

When many people think of the health of the environment, they think of it as merely the well-being of plants and trees.  But they fail to realise that it is also a critical human rights issues and that our quality of lives are deeply affected by it.

According to a report conducted by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, human activity has caused at least half of climate change in the last half century.
The report has also stated that the world is getting hotter, sea levels are rising and there are natural disasters occurring more frequently causing unnecessary deaths of many around the world.  So when we harm the environment, we in turn, also harm humans. The health of the Earth affects the health of the human race. 

Article 23 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states;

‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family’. 

But if we continue to decimate the environment, people in the future will not have this fundamental right. 

Today I would like to introduce a newly created term with you all, EcocideEcocide is the biggest threat to the human race on this planet. But what is Ecocide you may ask?

Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.
The most disturbing aspect of Ecocide is that it can be irreversible when an ecosystem suffers beyond self-healing.

It’s also important to note when speaking about ecocide, that is a problem facing the entire world. Ecocide is happening right now as we speak. Around the world, businesses are destroying our environment, doing everything they can to make a profit. 

Deforestation, which is the removal of forest that is then converted to a non-Forrest area, oil spills, toxic dumping, deep water mining are all of examples of Ecocide that are occurring around the globe. These procedures are not only harming the environment, but also our quality of life. Throughout history there have been conflicts over the control of natural resources such as diamonds, coal and oil which have seen the destruction of the environment and loss of many lives. 

If our most basic resources become more scarce around the world, then it would seem likely that just in just a few generations time, countries could be waging wars over our most basic needs such as food and water. 

So that’s why I am advocating for the implementation for a law that makes the destruction of our environment a crime, and for the crime of ecocide to be added to the list of international crimes against peace. Now that might seem like a fairly ambitious goal, but I believe, if enough people can get the United Nations to take notice of this issue, and make ecocide an official crime, we can eradicate ecocide.

If Ecocide is eradicated, business and governments around the world, who are committing ecocide, will use environmentally friendly means to conduct their business.
If Ecocide is eradicated, the world will become a cleaner and safer place to live.
If ecocide is eradicated, people will live longer and healthier lives. 

But we can only achieve this if each and every one of us takes on board the responsibility on preserving the environment. If it’s something small like putting recyclable material in the recycling, or taking public transport to work one a week instead of driving to work and polluting the air, we can all play a role in preserving the health the of OUR ENVIRONMENT.     

By doing this, we will ensure that next generation will be able to have the great quality of life that we have today, and so will the generations to come.

Thanks Matthew for making us 'think out of the box".


Crystal said...

Well said. I'd share with my students for sure! Thank you.

Md Biplob said...

Yes your are wright and thanks for post a good topic . your post is

top most in related post of Spatialworlds.