The Dynamics of Human Rights and the Environment

SAN DIEGO – There are many vital linkages between protection of human rights and protection of the environment, says Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Roth will discuss his observations during the inaugural 2007-2008 season Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 20 at the University of San Diego. The talk is free to public but reservations are required. Log on to for additional information.

Roth asserts that “damage to the environment and violations of human rights are closely linked. Those who abuse the environment often resort to repression to counter inevitable protests. And, environmental degradation thrives in political context of enforced secrecy.” Adding, “A sophisticated strategy for defending the environment thus must incorporate concern for basic rights.”

Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration established a foundation for linking human rights and environmental protection, declaring that man has a fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being. It also announced the responsibility of each person to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.

Almost twenty years later, in resolution 45/94 the UN General Assembly recalled the language of Stockholm, stating that all individuals are the environmental factors behind human rights violations and examine how environmental and social issues involving governments and corporations affect human rights. how man’s environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights including life itself.

Roth has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993. Watch Evans began his career as a lawyer in Australia before moving into the parliament and he spent 13 years as a Cabinet Minister.Known for his candor in Australian political circles, Evans continues to speak bluntly on behalf of international organizations like the United Nations and International Crisis Group. As co-chairs of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Evans and former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy put forward a new approach to state sovereignty which proposed that states that did not protect their citizens forfeited their sovereignty and should not be object to international or regional intervention to fulfill that vital state function.

Serving now as a member of the Blix Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, Evans is analyzing ways to decrease the risk of mass casualties through the accidental or purposeful use of weapons of mass destruction.

Evans’ lecture is the third in the 2006-2007 Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego. Founded in 2000 with a $25 million gift from the late San Diego philanthropist and former owner of the San Diego Padres Joan B. Kroc, the institute is dedicated to fostering peace, cultivating justice and creating a safer world by working to improve the lives of those caught in the web of armed conflict and human rights abuses.

The institute is located at the University of San Diego, a Catholic Institution of higher learning chartered in 1949. The university enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The establishment of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Education, Law and Nursing and Health Science.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.