Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Members of the constituent assembly have been urged not to strike out the provision on the right to a clean, safe and healthy environment.

Elifuraha Laltaika, an environmental law lecturer at Tumaini University Makumira said this over the weekend during a public lecture on the link between human rights and the environment organized the University’s Law Faculty.
“The constitutional provision will ensure highest protection of the environmental rights including the right to  sustainably use the country’s natural resources from being undermined by ordinary legislation.”  said Mr. Laltaika who is also advocate of the high court.
The draft constitution, which was unveiled by the constitutional review commission and tabled before the constituent assembly, contains the right to a healthy and clean environment in the bill of rights.

According to Advocate Laltaika, the provision places Tanzania in a list of progressive countries that have given sustainable economic development and environmental protection the highest legal recognition.
He further said that article 41 of the draft constitution provides in part that everyone living in Tanzania has a right to live in a clean, safe and healthy environment. 
In his keynote presentation, Professor John Bonine from the University of Oregon in the USA outlined the integral connection between human rights and the environment indicating that in the last forty years, more than half of the world’s nations have recognized the constitutional right to a healthy environment.
 “The landmark Stockholm Declaration of 1972 was very significant as it inspired countries to include environmental rights in their supreme laws.” Said Professor Bonine.
He argued that by incorporating the right to a clean and healthy environment in the constitution, national governments show their highest and collective commitment to sustainable development.
Commenting on the role of courts in developing progressive jurisprudence, the renowned international environmental law expert revealed courts in 12 countries have interpreted the right to life and health to include the right to live in a clean and safe environment. 
“High courts in 12 nations have ruled that the right to a healthy and clean environment is implicit in the constitutional right to life and health.” Said professor Bonine adding, “In an even more encouraging move, ninety-two nations have explicitly incorporated the right into their constitutions.”
 Professor Bonine, co-founder of Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), an NGO with members from 80 countries including Tanzania is visiting the University’s Law Faculty to deliver public lectures and inspire public interest lecturers and legal practitioners.

He 
is a member of the Commission on Environmental Law of the World Conservation Union and an elected member of the International Council of Environmental Lawyers.

His latest publication “Human rights and the environment” is used as a textbook in numerous law schools in the USA including the University of Oregon where he has been teaching Human rights and the environment for the last 45 years.
The University’s Faculty of Law occasionally invites prominent scholars to speak on diverse thematic issues relevant to the promotion and protection of human rights and the environment. Previous visiting scholars included his Lordship Gerard Niyungeko, the then President of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).

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