Conclusion

This chapter has provided an overview of the history of the environmental justice movement. The recent literature on environmental justice has also been reviewed, and global environmental justice issues have been presented. When examining global environmental justice issues, it is evident from the cases presented that a wide variety of ecological problems impact communities throughout the world. The issue of corporate environmental crime creates an entire set of problems for developing nations. At the same time, countries such as Nigeria legalize the destruction of their land for the sake of oil production. The government of post-Apartheid South Africa is struggling with meeting the needs of its citizens after years of Apartheid rule. Additionally, the U.S. Mexican border region faces the challenge of coordinating efforts between the U.S. and Mexican governments to address the many issues facing the residents who live along the nearly 2000 mile stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

While some foreign governments, such as Mexico, are working to address the unjust environmental problems facing their citizens, other states are not as responsive, and are even taking actions to exacerbate the problems. Theoretically, the only international court with jurisdiction over environmental issues is the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague [50]. However, no environmental disputes have been resolved by the ICJ in over 40 years. One of the problems with the ICJ is the fact that its jurisdiction is strictly limited to disputes submitted by state parties, with no standing provided to individuals, corporations, or other nongovernmental organizations. Aside from the ICJ, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Court of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe have been progressive in defining and implementing international environmental norms that can be adjudicated at the regional and/or municipal level. However, McCallion and Sharma [50] believe the only true way for the wide variety of international environmental issues throughout the world to be properly addressed is through the establishment of an International Environmental Court (IEC). An IEC would be an impartial body established to provide a centralized database for all national, regional, and international environmental laws and regulations.

The right to a clean, healthy environment for everyone on earth should be acknowledged and supported by all governments. Human rights and environmental rights are closely tied issues on the international level, particularly in developing countries. This author supports the concept of an IEC as an impartial international body for citizens to have their cases fairly heard and adjudicated. If foreign governments are non-responsive to the human rights and environmental needs of their citizens, then an IEC would provide citizens around the world impacted by unjust environmental conditions a means of having their cases heard by an impartial body and resolved in a fair manner.

Environmental justice is an issue of both civil rights and environmental rights. Achieving environmental justice for all nations around the world is a challenging task, especially if countries do not support their citizens' civil rights. Therefore, it is important for global organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the IMF to push for environmental justice and hold governments accountable. The environmental justice movement in the U.S. took decades to achieve national recognition and to prompt action by the federal government. The global environmental justice movement is even more challenging, due to the variety of government structures existing in affected countries. Continued education and outreach is imperative if global environmental justice is ever to be achieved.

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