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Environment Human Rights Collection 

As many people know, one of the causes of global warming, is due to greenhouse effect. For example, keeping a house warm is said to involve a balance between energy input from the heating system and energy lost through the walls. It is said that keeping a planet warm involves a balance between incoming energy and infrared radiation to space. And because the rate of energy loss increases with temperature, a planet naturally achieves the state of energy balance. However, the earth is warmed further because of infrared-absorbing greenhouse gases, which is due primarily to fossil fuel combustion, in its atmosphere. These gases make the atmosphere partially cloudy to outgoing radiation and therefore increase the surface temperature that is needed to maintain energy balance, which is called the greenhouse effect. That is, more energy is coming in than going out. And this excess energy is warming the planet and the sea as well. A number of climate experts are underscoring that global warming is affecting natural disasters such as heatwaves, droughts, rainfall and strong storms right now. Further, research shows that changes in climate, especially earlier snowmelt due to warming in the spring and summer, have led to hot, dry conditions that boost this increase in fire activity in certain areas. Wildfire risk depends on a number of factors, including temperature, ground moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel. All these factors have strong direct or indirect ties to climate variability and climate change. It is said that warmer, drier conditions  contribute to the spread of the mountain pine beetle and other insects as well because they can weaken or kill trees, building up the fuels in a forest. In order to effectively address and reduce | stop global warming, experts say we must significantly reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions we are putting into the atmosphere through fossil fuels. Thus, expanding the use of renewable energy and transform our energy system to one that is cleaner and less dependent on coal and other fossil fuels, and increasing vehicle fuel efficiency supporting other resolutions that reduce oil are likely to be important.


Among energies, concerning nuclear power , the need for carbon-free energy coupled with a new generation of simpler, less expensive, and intrinsically safer nuclear reactors, could bring about a revival of nuclear power, (although it is crucial to confront the link between nuclear power and nuclear weapons). However, nuclear power has been slowing down because of safety and economic concerns, which needs further research and development. As for energy from tides, which originates from the Earth-Moon system, is said to be a limited resource that can provide a practical energy supply in only a few localities.  Energy from ocean waves and currents is said to be greater yet is technologically difficult to harness, thus, it is said that none of these approaches has yet demonstrated its large-scale practicality. Energy from the sun is said to reach Earth at some 10,000 times the rate at which humankind uses energy, yet it is said that its availability varies with location and season. Energy from dam built rivers (i.e., hydropower) has a long history, and today it is said that it supplies 18 % of electrical energy of the highest quality in this world. Yet, during its installation, it may emit methane that contributes to climate change, therefore caution is needed when installing. Finally, energy from the wind is said to be a fast-growing energy that provides about 4 % of electrical energy in this world. 


Then, why are experts emphasizing energy. For example, when the weather gets warm, people buy AC, then coal is burned to generate the electricity to run the AC, increasing the harmful carbon dioxide emissions, enhancing the greenhouse effect, causing global warming, which is the living proof of human influence on climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated, "Evidence for human influence has grown . . it is extremely likely human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century." Like this human-triggered climate change | global warming will affect the earth in a variety of ways. Then what could be the possible resolution to reduce climate change | global warming. It is said that 'Geoengineering' could alter energy balance if the earth, either by reducing incoming sunlight or by removing atmospheric carbon dioxide to reduce the absorption of outgoing infrared radiation. Yet, geoengineering schemes are said to be yet unproven and involve unknown risks and should be regarded as last resorts. Another resolution is said to be 'Carbon Capture and Storage', which captures the harmful carbon from fossil fuels, and stores it underground or in the deep ocean. Yet, it is said that its large-scale technological or economic viability has not yet been demonstrated, thus must be used with caution. In my point of view, as many people would consider, the best efficient way to reduce climate change is to "use less energy and use the energy effectively'. By using less energy and using it effectively, we could together reduce climate changing carbon emissions, lower greenhouse gas emissions without reducing the benefits the energy provides, which is the main purpose of Paris Agreement (2016).


It is our current dream to live in a world powered by aforementioned effective energies, yet as many people know, it will not happen overnight. It will take new innovative technological and economic ideas that can reconcile energy-consuming humanity with a healthy earth along with leaders, activists, and policymakers taking part in guiding people to be part in reducing the use of energy and global warming. Yet, as many people know, regrettably, the reality is that this challenge may take decades, or centuries. There could always exist, pros and cons, as to which energy should be used and what resolution could be the best to reduce and stop climate change | global warming. However, what every person could assent on and hopefully we all could consent, will be "Let's use less energy and use energy effectively". And, by using less energy and using energy effectively, as many people already are, deeply hope we could play a crucial part in reducing and stopping climate change | global warming, for this is the right time. And, unfortunately, this might be the only time to reverse climate change | global warming. Again, Let's. 


Environment & Climate 

2016/2/16    Alicia  Jie-Hye Lee 

지구 온난화의 원인 중 하나는, 많은 분들께서 알고 계시둣이, 온실 효과 입니다. 예를 들어, 집을 따뜻하게 유지할 수 있는 것은 난방 시스템에서 유입되는 에너지와 벽을 통해 손실되는 에너지 사이의 균형이 유지될 수 있기 때문입니다. 우리의 지구를 따뜻하게 유지할 수 있는 것은, 바로 지구로 들어오는 많은 에너지와 우주로 나가는 적외선 방사간의 균형이 유지될 수 있기 때문입니다. 그리고 온도에 따라 에너지 손실의 비율이 증가하기 때문에 지구는 자연스럽게 에너지 균형 상태를 유지할 수 있는 것입니다. 그러나 대기에 있는, 화석 연료 산화에 기인한, 온실 가스가 우주 밖으로 나가야 하는 적외선을 흡수함으로서 지구를 더 따뜻하게 만들고 있는 지구 온난화 현상이 일어나고 있는 것입니다. 다시 말해서, 대기 중으로 나가는 에너지 보다 더 많은 에너지가 들어오고 있는 것으로 이 과도한 에너지가 지구와 바다를 온난하게 만들고 있는 것입니다. 그리고 이러한 지구 온난화 현상은, 많은 전문가분들이 강조하고 있듯이, 폭염, 가뭄, 강우량 및 강한 폭풍과 같은 자연 재해에 영향을 미치고 있습니다. 여러 연구 결과에 따르면, 기후 변화, 특히 봄과 여름의 이른 온난화 현상으로 인한 제설은 일부 지역의 화재 증가를 촉진시키고 있습니다. 많은 분들께서 알고 계시듯이, 산불 위험도는 온도, 토양 수분 및 나무, 관목 및 기타 잠재적인 연료의 존재 여부를 비롯한 여러가지 요인에 따라 달라질 수 있습니다. 이 모든 요인들이 기후 변화에 직접적 또는 간접적으로 강하게 연관되어 있는 것입니다. 또한 이러한 따뜻하고 건조한 환경 조건은 우리에게 필요한 나무들을 약하게 만들거나 심지어는 죽일 수 있는 나무의 딱정벌레와 다른 곤충의 확산의 원인까지 되고 있습니다. 그렇기에, 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화 문제를 제기하고 효과적으로 줄이고 막기 위해서는, 무엇보다 화석 연료로 인한 대기 중으로의 열배출을 막는 현상을 크게 줄여야 한다는 것입니다. 이를 위해서는 재생 가능한 에너지의 사용을 늘리고, 석탄 및 기타 화석 연료에 덜 의존하며, 전반적인 에너지를 청정 에너지 시스템으로 변환시킴으로 인하여 석유의 사용을 최대한 줄일 수 있는 더 효과적인 해결 시스템을 적용시키는 것이 중요하다고 합니다. 


그럼 우리의 삶에 유용할 수 있는 몇 개의 효율적인 에너지 몇 개를 살펴 보겠습니다. 먼저, 원자력을 이용한 에너지의 경우에는 간단하고 저렴하며 안전한 에너지원으로 우리에게 적합한 에너지로 여겨지고 있습니다. (하지만 원자력과 핵무기의 간의 연결 고리를 구분함은 중요하겠습니다). 그러나 현재 원자력 발전은 안전과 경제적인 문제로 인해 예상보다는 천천히 진행되고 있기에, 더 많은 연구가 필요한 에너지원으로 보고 있습니다. 달과 해에서 비롯된 조석 에너지에 관해서는 몇몇의 지역에서만 실용적인 에너지 공급이 가능하다는 점에서 한정된 에너지원이라고 합니다. 해양 파도와 해류를 이용한 에너지의 경우에는 규모는 크지만 대규모 실용성이 입증되지 않고 있어 기술적으로 동력화시키는 데는 한계가 있다고 합니다. 태양을 이용한 에너지의 경우에는, 인류가 에너지를 사용하는 속도와 태양 에너지가 지구에 10,000 번을 도착하는 속도가 흡사할 정도로 그 양은 엄청나다고 합니다. 하지만 위치와 계절에 따라 태양 에너지의 이용 가능성이 다르다는 단점이 있습니다. 그럼에도 불구하고, 태양 에너지는 화석 연료의 우세한 경쟁 에너지원으로 부상하고 있으며, 경제성 있는 에너지 산업을 구축하는 데 큰 도움이 될 수 있는 에너지로 여겨지고 있습니다. 수력을 이용한 에너지의 경우에는 강물에 기반을 둔 댐에서 나오는 좋은 품질로 여겨지고 있으며, 현제 세계 전기 에너지의 18 %를 공급하고 있다고 합니다. 그러나 설치 과정에서 기후 변화에 기여하는 메탄을 방출할 수 있기에 설치 과정 중에는 조심히 다루어져야 한다고 합니다. 그리고 마지막으로 바람을 이용한 에너지의 경우에는, 그 풍력에서 얻을 수 있는 에너지원이 현재 세계 전기 에너지의 약 4 % 를 공급할 정도로 급성장하고 있는 에너지원입니다. 


그렇다면, 전문가들은 왜 이러한 에너지를 강조하고 있는 것일까요. 전문가들이 이러한 에너지를 강조하고 있는 이유 중의 하나는, 예를 들어, 날씨가 따뜻해지면 사람들은 에어컨을 구입하게 되며, 이러한 에어컨의 가동을 위해서 많은 화석 연료가 산화하게 되며, 이는 사람의 몸에 해로운 이산화탄소의 배출량을 증가시킴으로 인하여 (즉, 온실 효과가 발생하게 됨으로서), 지구 온난화 및 기후변화를 더 심각하게 만들고 있기 때문입니다. 기후변화에 관한 정부간 협의체 ("IPCC")의 평가 보고서에서도 "인간이 기후변화에 주는 영향은 증가 되고 있으며 . . 20 세기 중반 이래로 인간의 영향이 지구 온난화 현상의 주요 원인이었을 가능성이 매우 높다"고 기록하고 있습니다. 이렇듯, 인간이 촉발한 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화는 다양한 방식으로 현재 인류 사회에 좋지 않은 영향을 미치고 있으며 앞으로도 계속 영향을 미칠 것입니다. 그렇다면 기후 변화를 줄이거나 막기 위해서는 어떠한 해결책들이 있을까요? 먼저, 지구공학적인 방법이 있습니다. 지구공학적인 방법은 들어오는 햇빛을 줄이거나 나가는 적외선 복사의 흡수를 줄이기 위해 대기 중의 이산화탄소를 제거함으로써 지구의 에너지 균형을 유지하는 방법입니다. 하지만, 이 지구공학적인 방법은 아직까지 제대로 증명이 되고 있지 않고 있으며 알려지지 않은 여러가지 위험 수지가 있어 최후의 수단으로 간주 되어진다고 합니다. 또 다른 하나의 방법으로는 탄소 포집 및 저장 기술입니다. 탄소 포집 및 저장 기술은 사람들에게 유해한 화석 연료의 탄소를 지하 또는 심해에 저장하는 방법입니다. 그러나 이 방법 역시 대규모상의 기술적 또는 경제적 생존 가능성이 아직 입증되지 않았기에 신중한 사용이 필요하다고 합니다. 제 생각으로는, 그리고 많은 분들께서 생각하고 계실 것 처럼, 결국 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화를 줄이거나 막을 수 있는 가장 효율적인 방법은 '에너지를 덜 사용하고 에너지를 효과적으로 사용하는 것'으라고 생각합니다. 그 이유는 파리 기후 협정 (2016)의 주 목적이라고 할 수 있는 에너지가 전해주는 혜택을 줄이지 않으면서 온실 가스 배출량을 줄일 수 있게 하는 가장 간단하고 경제적이고 효과적인 방법이기 때문입니다.

우리가 환경적으로 바라는 꿈은 두 번째 문단에서 잠시 언급한 깨끗한 에너지원을 사용하며 살아가는 것입니다. 하지만, 많은 분들께서 알고 계시듯이, 이는 하루 아침에 일어날 수 있는 일이 아닙니다. 이러한 우리의 꿈이 실현되기 위해서는 지구 온난화를 줄이는 에너지 절감에 일익을 담당하는 그리고 기후 친화적인 에너지를 구축함을 가능하게할 수 있는 전문가분들, 활동가분들, 지도자분들 및 정책 입안자분들과 함께 건강한 지구를 만들어 나갈 수 있는 새로운 기술적 그리고 경제적 아이디어와 실천이 지속적으로 필요합니다. 그러나, 안타깝게도, 현실은 이러한 새로운 아이디어의 생성과 실행은 수십 년 또는 수 세기가 걸릴 수도 있음을 우리는 알고 있습니다. 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화를 줄이거나 막기 위하여 어떤 에너지가 사용 되어야 하고, 어떤 방법이 최선일 수 있는가에 대해서는 찬반론이 늘 존재합니다. 그러나 이 지구상의 많은 분들이 동의할 수 있고, 또 개인적으로 동의하기를 간절히 바라고 있는 점은, 많은 분들께서 이미 그러고 계신 것 처럼, "에너지를 덜 사용하고 에너지를 효율적으로 사용하는 것"입니다. 우리 서로 다같이 함께 바로 지금 에너지를 덜 사용하고, 효과적으로 에너지를 사용 함으로서, 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화를 점차적으로 줄이고 막을 수 있는데 계속해서 동참하기를 바랍니다. 그리고 바로 지금이 기후 변화를 멈추고 되돌릴 수 있는 적합한 시간이자 유일한 시간일 수 있음을 다같이 다시 기억할 수 있길 바랍니다. 



2016/2/16     이  지혜

What are the ways we could save “Energy” in our every day life. There may likely be many activities we are already doing to "Save Energy" including the ones listed below.


Turn our refrigerator down. 


Put our clothes washer to the warm or cold water setting, not hot.


Not to overheat or overcool rooms or offices. 


Clean or replace air filters as recommended. Energy is greatly lost when air conditioners and hot-air furnaces have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters.



Reduce the amount of waste we produce by buying minimally packaged goods, choosing reusable products over disposable ones. 


Check the air conditioner coolant in our car to be recovered and recycled whenever you have it serviced. 


Recycle. The recycled materials would use less energy than raw materials when making products. 


And of course, let's preserve trees. As many people already know, Trees absorb harmful pollutants release clean air and help us exceptionally to breathe clean air.

Let's save energy . . Because by saving energy (as many people know) . .


We consume less power & when we consume less power . . we reduce the amount of toxic fumes . . conserve the Earth natural resources . . protecting ecosystems from destruction . . & by taking steps to reduce our energy intake . . we could contribute to a healthier and happier world . . 


How To Save

2016/4/21    Alicia  Jie-Hye Lee

일상 생활에서 우리는 "에너지"를 어떻게 절약 할 수 있을까요 . . "에너지 절약"을 위해 우리가 이미하고 있는 많은 활동들이 있을 것입니다 아래에 나열된 활동들을 포함해서요 . . 


냉장고의 온도를 내립니다. 


세탁기의 물을 뜨거운 물이 아닌, 미지근하거나 차가운 물로 설정해 놓습니다.


집안의 방 온도가 너무 높거나 낮아지지 않도록 합니다. 


에어컨과 열풍로가 더러운 필터를 통해 공기를 끌어 들이기 위해 더 힘을 쓸때 에너지가 손실이 가장 크다고 하기 때문에 공기 필터를 청소하거나 교체하는 것이 좋습니다.


일회용 제품보다 재활용이 가능한 제품을 선택하여 포장 제품을 구입함으로써 발생하는 폐기물의 양을 줄일 수 있도록 합니다. ​


에어컨 (자동차의) 냉각수를 자동차 서비스 받을 때마다 회수되고 재활용될 수 있도록 합니다.


재활용을 반드시 해 주십니다. 재활용을 하게 되면, 제품을 만들시 재활용 재료의 사용이 원료의 사용보다 에너지를 덜 사용할 수 있게 된다고 합니다. 


그리고 나무 . . 우리의 자연을 보존하는 것입니다. 많은 분들께서 이미 알고 계시듯이, 나무는 유해한 오염 물질을 흡수하고 깨끗한 공기를 방출하여 우리들이 깨끗한 공기를 마실 수 있게 가장 많은 도움을 줍니다.

우리 함께 에너지를 절약해요 . . 에너지를 절약 함으로써 우리는 (많은 분들께서 알고 계시듯이) . . 더 적은 전력을 사용하게 됩니다 . . 그리고 전력을 적게 사용함으로써 . . 발전소에서 배출되는 유독 가스의 양을 줄일 수 가 있고 지구의 천연 자원을 보존하고 . . 생태계를 파괴로부터 보호할 수 있습니다 . . 그리고 에너지 사용을 줄이기 위한 대책을 마련함으로써 . . 우리는 보다 건강한 세상을 만드는 데 기여할 수 있습니다 . .

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에너지를 잘 절약하는

2016/4/21    이  지혜



2020/7/7    Lee Jie-Hye Alicia




Under the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/292, the human rights to water is said to be essential to the realization of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to aid countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water. Additionally, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, have been constantly reporting how the fundamental rights to water must be met, addressing the relevance of sustainability to the core human rights concepts, and how the normative principles of human rights to water contribute to ensuring sustainability. Yet, despite the efforts made until now by a number of international organizations and countless non-profit organizations that are working arduously to make a difference more than a decade, there are still millions of people, and growing, who are still living without the fundamental rights of easy access to clean water. And there must be a fundamental reason for this. This Paper avails the statutory water laws and customary water rights to look into the fundamental cause of incessant lack of safe drinking water in the people in Africa. I argue there is a conflict between statutory water law and customary water rights which lead to many African people from having close access to clean water. In addition, I look into the plausible resolution to the existing conflict and dive into International Covenants and Resolutions concerning water of its effectiveness in reality and suggest the importance of revision to those covenants and resolutions to alleviate the conflict that could aid to those who still cannot have access to clean water every day. I conclude by underscoring the role of international community to initiate the discussion as to this conflict through state cooperation for there still remains a light to achieve the unfinished dream we all have been dreaming of. Access to clean water to all.



Water is one of the most crucial substances on earth. All livings must have water to survive. If there is no water there would be no life on earth. Clean water. And here I emphasize the word ‘clean’. This means the water must not contain germs & chemicals and be clear. Additionally, the water supply must be adequate and continual for not only personal use but also domestic use. All people on this Earth, in order to survive, must have access to clean water that should be supplied adequately and continuously every day. Yet, the reality is not like that. There still remain millions and millions of people on this Earth who still is not deserving the right to water when they should be. Why is this. In general theory there are four reasons why. First, is poverty and inequality. Access to water, along with access to sanitation and hygiene, is a basic human right, yet a great number of people are still unable to access these services due to their ethnicity, gender, social status, disability or inability to afford the high costs. Second, is climate change. Climate change along with the increase of unforeseeable and extreme weather is a growing challenge, for instance a long period of drought that affects clean water supplies and flooding that pollutes clean water roots. Third, is population Increase. The population on this Earth is predicted to steadily grow to 8.6 billion by 2030. This will create a high demand of water and put a strain on already scarce and weak water roots. Finally, is the lack of infrastructure and poor management of services. Until now, for decades, innumerable efforts have been made to reach a lot more people with clean water. However, in the end, it is the government of each country to do its part to ensure water supplies are sustainable and be committed to improve infrastructure in order for its people to have easy access to clean water.


I. Effect of National Water Law & Customary Water Rights in Africa


  1. Effect of National Water Law in Africa


In certain African states, water belongs to the public domain; that is, the rights to use water can be either granted by the state and local authority according to its respective national water law or granted to private individuals and corporations according to its domestic law. Likewise, the laws and statutes that affect water are controlled by the interactivity between natural conditions such as locality, precipitation, political and economic conditions. Given the differences in these conditions, discussion of national water laws and statutes of Africa needs to be zoomed in on concepts and issues that are common to all countries within the continent. And one concept all countries have in common is that countries in Africa that have passed laws or statutes regarding water rights vested the ownership of all public water (i.e., in Africa, public water generally encompasses both surface and groundwater and requires a permit for withdrawal) in the Head of the country, and control of water resources in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (“DWAF”). In addition, the countries have boards or commissions that aid the Head of the country and the DWAF by setting users to pay fees, issuing permits for water use, and defining priority in water allocation as well. Generally, water for domestic purpose is the top priority in all the water laws and statutes. And while countries have exemption statutes that allow small farmers to use water for agricultural and livestock purposes without the need of paying fees or getting permits, majority of certain statutes require small farmers to register water usage with the local district office, especially if they are in the business of constructing dams for irrigation purposes. Further, water laws and statutes make a distinction between the water use of urban and rural communities, leaving control and management of the former to the public utilities and the latter to communities. Rural communities take water from rivers and ponds and are not subject to the formal laws and regulations operating in urban areas. Furthermore, in certain local communities, it generally holds their land and water rights under customary law. Customary law is a law consisting of customs that are accepted as legal requirements or obligatory rules of conduct; practices and beliefs that are vital and intrinsic part of economic system that are treated as if they were laws in the state. Yet, in states that have adequate water legislation and administration under national water law, customs are left unwritten because in those cases, customs largely apply to minor water utilizations and in certain specific issues in question where the written national water law does not cover.


   {1}  Head of the Country: Custodian of the National Water Resources


Under national water law, generally the Government is the custodian of the national water resources in Africa. Under the National Water Act (1998) in South Africa, for example, it defines national government, acting through the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (“DWAF”), as the “public trustee (i.e., a public office given control and power of administration of water in trust with a legal obligation to administer water for the purpose aligned)” of the national water resources. The DWAF, on behalf of the government, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner in accordance with its constitutional mandate for the benefit of all those in the close proximity. Namely, government responsibility is delegated to the DWAF to ensure that water is allocated equitably and used effectively in the public interest while promoting environmental values as well. The DWAF, including any water agency of a state and a water management institution, is required to give effect to the national water resource strategy by exercising its power to perform the task given, for instance, permission of water use or determination as to the condition of a particular water use license. In addition, in the process of permission and license in any water use, as established under the National Water Act, all repositories of decision-making power must be taken into account and be given effect to the eight chief fundamental principle and intention of the Act, which are to meet the basic human needs of present and future generations; promote equitable access to water; redress the results of past racial and gender discrimination; enhance efficient, sustainable and beneficial use of water in the public interest; facilitate social and economic development; provide for growing demands for water use; protect aquatic and associated ecosystems and their biological diversity; and reduce, prevent pollution and degradation of water resources. Under the Water Act (1997) in Uganda, an Act to provide for the protection, use and management of water resources and supply; to provide for the constitution of water authorities; and to facilitate the devolution of water supply undertaking, is divergent from the aforementioned the National Water Act (1998) in that the National Water Act is an Act to primarily provide for fundamental reform and repeal of certain laws relating to water resources, yet the same time, parallel to the National Water Act, in that it gives effect to national water resource strategy by exercising the Government power concerning permission of water use as mentioned above.


Comparable to the National Water Act, the Water Act stipulates that the rights in water is vested in the Government and will be exercised by the Department of Water and Environment. The Department of Water and Environment, along with the Water Policy Committee (i.e., a committee that coordinates the preparation, implementation and amendment of the water action plan; reviews the law relating to water and advise the Department on any amendments that may be required for the improvement or better administration of that law; and assists the Department in the coordination of hydrological investigations), where the situation requires, designates places from which water may be extracted for use; prescribes when and how water may be used; regulates water to be used for particular purposes when experiencing shortage or anticipated shortage of water; regulates, restricts, prohibits the application of a water permit, waste discharge permit or other permit/license issued; and temporarily/permanently prohibits the use of water on health grounds. Comparably, under the Water Resources Commission Act (1996) in Ghana, the property in and control of all water resources is vested in the President. And without authority permitted by the President or the Water Resources Commission, a person shall neither divert, dam, store, abstract or use water resources; nor construct or maintain any works for the use of water resources. However as for the use in domestic purposes, a person who has lawful access to water resources may have the right to abstract and use water for his or her domestic purposes under the Act. 

   {2} Effect of Customary Water Rights in Africa

Customary water rights, in general, evolved for equitable use of water resources among communities. Generally, in rural communities, where different communities are located close to each other, the water use is to be similar how they used water prior to colonization. That is, each user may collect water as required for personal use and agricultural use, as long as he or she leaves enough water for other users and leaves the waters in a clean state. Namely, under customary water rights, any person is entitled to improve the water resources provided that nobody else claims the ownership of the water resources, and later claim ownership. However, after the colonization and the National Water Law came into force in majority of the countries in Africa, where the government became the owner, manager and controller of water resources in public property, the customary water rights gradually get to have the tendency to fade away.  Namely, except for fire-fighting purpose and use of water in private property, in order for a person in Africa to use the water nowadays, wherever the individual resides, majority of the people must have the permission of the state government. Even if water resources, such as stream or pond, is located in the property of an individual, this fact does not create a private ownership of water resources by the individual. Like this, there is little recognition of customary law itself on customary water rights, and instead a customary grant of land generally confers rights on all products of the land which includes water resources based on rules governing possession of land. and to make matters worse, there are less means to reconcile customary water rights with the statutory water rights under National Water Law. However, in certain countries of Africa, the customary water rights are recognized under statutory water rights under National Water Law. For example, in Nigeria, under the Water Resources Decree of 1993, it states:


. . any person may take water without charge for domestic purpose or

for watering livestock from watercourse where public has free access;

any person may use water for the purpose of fishing or navigation;

 any person may take and use water from the underground water

 or from a watercourse, if abutting on bank of any watercourse,

or if he has a statutory or customary right of occupancy to any land,

without charge for domestic purposes,

 watering livestock, personal irrigation schemes (non-profit motives) . .


Even if there is no actual acknowledgement of customary water rights in the context of the Water Resources Decree of 1993 (i.e., statutory water rights under National Water Law of Nigeria), it is certain that its context does not negate the function of customary water rights under the customary laws in the water department, as long as the customary laws are not repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience, and is not incompatible with any statutory water rights under the National Water Law. For example, under the Water Resources Decree 1993 of Nigeria, the conflicts involving the use of water for fishing and navigation are likely to be resolved in favor of customary water rights under customary law, because these activities are not incompatible with any statutory water rights under any other water law in force in Nigeria, for the time being. However, it can be assumed that in cases where there is a conflict between statutory water law and customary water law, the former would take precedence.

II. Existence of Conflict of National Water Law & Customary Water Rights  


The water permit system under the National Water Law in Africa, based on the aforementioned steps to manage water production, is expected to work well, however, in certain regions, it is quite not. Before going into details, however, of what defects the water permit system in Africa has and what the negative effect the defects have on water production in Africa, there exists an important broad cause that will have negative effect on water production whether the defects of the Water Permit System is amended or not. It is the highest growth rate in Africa, which gives the water production the hardest time to keep pace with the population growth. And the main reason as to the population growth in Africa is that the average age at which women and girls giving birth is way too earlier than the global average. Therefore, delaying the start of childbearing could significantly reduce the rate of population growth. And in order to delay the start of childbearing in Africa, every government in Africa needs to indulge in establishing family planning service available at the earliest to both men and women together whomever is residing within its state. The content of the family planning should include not only the importance of birth control (i.e., contraception), which is undeniably the most crucial tool in reducing population growth, but also the reason why it is important to use birth control, by including notes of benefits to have less number of children (i.e., higher quality in parenting results in higher achievements, cost less in bringing up children), important role of women and girls outside the household in maintaining a household, basic knowledge of necessary education (i.e., farming, language, math) that could drive the women and girls to reach out for more advanced education. Without these constant and actual effort by the respective government, not just temporary verbal or written words, to reduce the number of population in certain regions, conflicts over water will remain unresolved.


  1. Defects of Water Permit System Yielding Conflict Between National Water Law & Customary Water Rights  


There are two universal reasons that makes the water permit system in Africa defective. First is that the water permit system favors large-scale industries preventing the individuals and small farmers from obtaining permits. And the main cause of this defect is likely to be because the water permit system in Africa is, generally, outdated. According to the studies of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the water permit system, which was introduced by colonial powers in the 1920s, was designed to regulate water use in the interests of the large-scale colonial project by granting permits only to settlers, ignoring the African customary water rights arrangements.[8] And until this day, the colonial style water permit system is still in use across certain countries in Africa along with other countries other than Africa where water is deemed to be scarce. As a result, legal access to water through the water permit system remains biased towards a few large users, such as large-scale irrigated farms, mines and industries, who are able to navigate the complicated and expensive process of water permit application. [9] For large-scale water users with complex water use demands, of course the requirements of water permit applications are more complex, but they generally have sufficient technical, financial and legal resources to be able to deal with these requirements, whereas, as for small-scale water users, face higher challenges in providing relevant information and completing the permit applications due to lack of financial and legal resources. Namely, the steps of the administrative process is advantageous for administration-proficient, large-scale water users, both nationals and foreigners, and disadvantageous for small-scale, rural users who largely are individual farmers, that comprises more than approximately 60 % of the population in Africa,  who depends their daily lives on agriculture and water. And because of these disadvantages, the small-scale water users, who cannot obtain water permits, are criminalized, which undermines the important efforts to boost agricultural production and meet economic growth goals in Africa. And the reason the small-scale water users are experiencing these kinds of hardship is the steps of the water permit system taken is designed to treat the small-scale water users unfairly because of the outdated water permit system of the colonial times that is continuously applied to this day. And considering agriculture, which is the driver of economic transformation in Africa and the largest consumers of water, an extensive and increasing water constraints to the small-scale water users who mostly are engaged in agriculture is a serious problem.




Next is the conflicts over water resources, when people and the community itself cannot obtain the water permit from the government. This generally occurs due to water shortages and conflict exacerbated by the aforementioned rapidly increasing population and the inability of the government to effectively implement an efficient water resources management policy that covers 60 % of the people and the community who cannot obtain the water permit in Africa. The situations of the conflict over water resources typically arise when a person, a smallholder farmer, locates a pond or a lake that is not owned by any, and begins to avail it as for personal use such as agriculture or domestic. In the meantime, the government officials who finds out about the use of the non-owned pond or lake by a smallholder farmer, intercept and halt the use, and take possession of the alleged pond or lake, which later demands the smallholder farmers to get permission to be authorized to use the pond or lake, by following the steps of the water permit system explained above.That is, the permit obligations expand to cover all water users, even those using small pumps to irrigate a few hectares. And because of these obligations, the small-scale water users, women who irrigate vegetables for family, for example, who don’t have permits using non-owned water due to lack of financial and legal resources and have no practical safeguard in using water, are effectively regarded as committing an offence which carries a penalty of being fined, jailed or both. And regardless of whether these small-scale water users are severely disadvantaged in acquiring water in many aspects compared to the large-scale water users, methodically and financially, the small-scale water users are in the situation where they need to compete for water with the large-scale water users, putting them in eminently a very difficult situation to engage in agriculture and to survive. 



III. Plausible Resolution to the Conflict of National Water Law & Customary Water Rights  


   1. Customary Water Rights Itself


African policymakers, in order to resolve this alleged incessant conflict of water between the smallholder farmers and the governments under water permit system, are taking steps to approach in recognizing water uses governed by customary laws at equal legal standing as permits. There are currently two basic mechanisms for the enforcement of customary law under water rights. One is where customary courts, mandated to ascertain and apply customary laws, which have been established in the different states throughout Africa. In this situation, customary courts (i.e., a manorial court, the chief of a community, exercising jurisdiction over customary tenants and administering the custom of the manor as contrasted with the common law, which is availed by a judge who administers at a civil court), under customary law based on customary water rights, could have civil jurisdiction that could possibly resolve this situation, yet frequently restricted by a threshold value. The other is the non-statutory adjudication systems, where informal administrative machine exists and the constituent units of the society tend to be bound together by common interests and loyalty to a political superior, which is usually the elderly chief or king, that was left intact yet not officially recognized by governments. The other method, the water authorities and the government could look into will be availing the customary water rights itself without the aid of either customary courts or the political superior, which involves excessive money and time. That is, by availing the traditional customary water rights, the water authorities could grant, under tenure rights, a person or collective small-scale water users the permit to use water where the location of the water is within the boundary or in close proximity of the land where the person or the collective small-scale water users are residing; and under riparian water rights, grant a permit to a person or collective small-scale water users whose land borders the water, as long as it does not unreasonably interfere with the reasonable use of the water by other people with riparian water rights. 


Additionally, the water authorities and the governments could establish a universal policy that when there is any water that is found yet not owned or used by any person or community, the water could be allocated to those who need the water, in particular the large majority who hardly have access to water in the order of the people who applied for water permit yet got rejected due to lack of finance, giving priority to the persons or collective small-scale water users who are ill or experiencing extreme poverty due to lack of water. The water authorities and the governments would consider there will be profits made by subjecting the newly found water to the water permit system. To the water authorities and the governments and the large-scale water users, yes. To the small-scale water users and others, no. That is, while particular parties of the people profit due to their financial capacity and social status, more than 60% of people, who are in need of water, who could make a big difference in agriculture, which is the driver of economic transformation in Africa, will remain not profited, ill or poor, which evidences one of the reasons why the poverty in Africa never ends.


   2. Hybrid Water Permit System

However, currently, in order to resolve the situations where a person cannot get a water permit, that is, to fill the holes of the deficiency as to the water permit system and to provide legal protection for small-scale water users by cost-effectively using of limited water resources, certain governments in Africa are attempting to adopt the alleged hybrid water permit system.  A hybrid water permit system in Africa, which is estimated to be established approximately in 2016, is a system that is availing mixed different water use rights tools, such as, targeted statutory water permits (i.e., targeting of permits to the relatively small number of large-scale high-impact water users, with strict permit conditions that can be effectively enforced, in order to provide the opportunity to  the small-scale water users), increasing the scope of exemptions to water permit who are not high impact water users, legal recognition of customary rights within constitutional imperatives, general authorizations and collective permits (i.e., permit that is given to inclusive users’ organizations).


     {1} Reality of Hybrid Water Permit System


As Hybrid Water Permit System is viewed as an ideal structure to resolve the issues of water permit system in Africa generally due to lack of resources by the water authorities to raise awareness and to process and enforce millions and millions of permits,  which is unlikely successful and eventually will continue to cause adverse impacts on the agricultural sectors and economic situation of overall Africa, the implementation of hybrid water permit system (i.e., hybrid water law) could be yet regarded as ‘de facto’ due to the inertness and lack of further action by the water authorities and the government. That is, as aforementioned, despite the fact that there exist several methods of hybrid water permit system that may have a chance to remedy the partly-flawed water permit system, the water authorities and the governments in Africa are not actually and deeply diving into remedy the situation. Unless, there exists a universal recognition of small-scale water users and pro-active application and regulation of the hybrid water permit system by the water authorities and the governments, the problem of water, without any progress, will remain as ‘de facto’, resulting in further economic crisis, poverty and victims.



IV.  Human Rights Issues Relevant to the Conflicts of National Water Law & Customary Water Rights 


Human rights are universal; inalienable; indivisible; and interdependent. They are universal because every person is born with and has control over his or her rights as a human, regardless of their gender, race, religion, culture or ethnicity. The universality of human rights is encompassed under Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Human rights are inalienable because a right of a person can never be replaced by others or taken away. Human rights are indivisible and interdependent because every human right relevant to political, civil, social, cultural and economic are all equal and none can be fully enjoyed without the others. They are rights that are strengthened through a number of both national laws and international laws. And among many subject matters that are protected as human rights, water is one of them. Though water was not initially expressly included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was implied through other human rights, such as the right to life, right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to health. However, in 2002, United Nations via International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, officially adopted water as a human right stating under the General Comment 15 of the Covenant, “the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.” That is, the quantity of water must be sufficient to meet basic human needs such as drinking, bathing, cooking, farming and sanitation; the quality of water must be safe and free from contamination, and water must be accessible (i.e., water must be within the household or in proximity of the household) and affordable (i.e., the fees of clean water must not be too high) for all people, including the most vulnerable people in the poorest rural regions. And the fact that the conflicts of national water law and customary water rights still exist in a number of nations implies these aligned human rights to water are not adequately executed. And, it is the duty of each government to make sure these human rights are protected, and human rights issues are resolved through planning of equal distribution reducing privatization of water services in order to make sure these basic water rights are maintained. And in addition to the duty of each government, there are crucial duties of international organizations to review remove revise and renew current international laws and regulations (i.e., covenants and resolutions) where effective future global action plans be based on.



V. Actual Influence of Intl Law and Regulations as to Water based on Human Rights Issue on Conflicts of National Water Law & Customary Water Rights 


Providing water to people who live in a region where water is scarce is no easy matter. And such thorniest problematic matter that risks the universal human basic rights, similar to global warming, at times place limits on respective nations to resolve the situation themselves. That is, depending on the issue, no matter how a nation is well built and no matter how the leader of a nation is committed, it is difficult to resolve and fight the issue in isolation. This is truer when the nation is less well built and the leaders of a nation is less committed to resolve the issues. And this is when international laws and regulations (i.e., covenants and resolutions) must kick in in order to facilitate and cooperate to protect the basic rights of every person in every nation which he or she innately deserves. However, not all international laws and regulations are effective. It is a fact that international laws and regulations cannot meet every demand of every country. However, by focusing on how to ameliorate and resolve the material issues the majority of nations are confronting, the establishment and revision process of international laws and regulations on these crucial issues should encompass not only as to the definition and importance of the issue (i.e., as to water, the importance of water is now recognized and acknowledged by a large number of nations and people), yet should also include detailed, a narrower view as to the role of international organizations and the nations and the actual details on how the issues could be realistically resolved. However, regretfully, as to the human rights issue of drinking and domestic water use, there is currently no actual international law that is written. Human Rights to water use, like human rights to sanitation, is only “recognized” in international law through conventions, declarations or resolutions as follows:


The 1979 “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)” Article 14.2, which provides, "parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular shall ensure to women the right . . (h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.” 


The 1989 “Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC”) Article 24, which provides, "parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health . . 2. states parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures . . (c) to combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia . . the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking water . .”


The 2006 “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)” Article 28(2)(a), which requires that "parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures to ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs." 


The 2016 "International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” in General Assembly Resolution 71/222, which recognizes that “water-related issues, including relevant Sustainable Development Goals and targets, need to be better reflected in the agendas of the General Assembly; and the importance of deepening cooperation and partnership at all levels for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals on water and sanitation is acknowledged”, emphasizing each nation to respect of these rights because clean drinking water is "essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights".


And, until now, these conventions and resolutions are on repeat under mere revision. There is no actual detailed international law of a way to fix the problems of water scarcity realistically. And this must halt. The importance of underscoring and recognizing the human rights of water of every person and the need of cooperation and partnership have been done in the past. While we continue to strictly abide by the aforementioned paramount past international conventions, declarations and resolutions, it is now the crucial time to create brand new realistic international conventions and resolutions. What the nations and people need, who are struggling the most in need of clean fresh water, which is matter of life and death,are not just bygone written words that are on repeat, yet realistic written words that could influence nations and people to take actions in order to actually influence and ameliorate the current water crisis. Without the existence of an effective and realistic international body, to all intents and purposes, to aid the human rights issues on water, such as conflicts of national water law & customary water rights that is worsening the situation of accessing clean fresh water in a large number of nations and people, these nations and their people have no choice yet to deal with the conflicts within their national policy, which is, regretfully, a deadlock situation.  



VI. Possible Resolution to the Water Crisis due to the Conflict under International Perspective

An effective new policy new international conventions must be created. Aforementioned, while we continue to strictly abide by the past prominent international conventions, declarations and resolutions, there must be a groundbreaking transition of the contents in international conventions and resolutions in order to resolve the current water crisis and to establish the future water rights of every person for the better. The international organizations, as its purpose is to aid a nation or nations when facing difficult crisis, through its annual or biannual virtual meeting of “human rights of water”, should put these existing conflicts of national water law and customary water rights on the agenda. In order to resolve an issue, there needs to be head-to-head discussion. Not disclosing and partly disregarding the real issue of one of the foremost problems, and instead trying to read the mind of others watching out others, is not right. There are a number of wonderful private institutions that are making effort to resolve these conflicts, however, there are limits. Water issue is not a private concern. It is a worldwide concern. Based on the works the private institutions are doing in order to tackle the conflicts of national water law and customary water rights that is one of the main causes of lack of access to clean and fresh water to many nations and people (i.e., that also leads to health issues, famine causing millions of death), it is time for the international community to step up and tackle this real issue. During the discussions there may exist controversy and disagreements, yet there also may be understanding and cooperation. It will take time. However, as almost every former international conventions and resolutions, during the pull and push, took decades to end in a favorable written agreement, finding a conducive answer to the issue “conflict of national water law and customary water rights” will take time. And despite of that, it must be discussed and deliberated. With the help of the experts in this field of human rights of water and based on the aforementioned relevant laws and rights in this Article, and most of all, along with state cooperation, the international community must address the issue of this conflict and endeavor to find a favorable way to resolve the future water crisis that will affect every person on this planet sooner or later. 




Among all the natural resources that people resort to, only air is more directly vital to sustaining human life than water. And water is not an infinite resource. It is finite. And this access to crucial natural resource, fresh and safe water, in the near future, will not be just a problem of developing countries. The growing populations; global warming; air pollution; acid raids, disposal of waste into rivers, lakes, coastal waters; and political tensions will add more pressure in accessing water in every country in every community. Thus, it is time to look into and focus on the narrower details of what actually is causing the lack of access to water in nations. Despite countless national and international institutions are endeavoring to donate and aid the water crisis through finance and technology in developing countries, there is a reason the number of people who lack access to fresh clean water is rising every year. What is problem to one country is likely a problem to another country. And the resolution that could unfold a problem of a country could be a resolution to another country and another. Now is the time for a groundbreaking transition as to resolving the issue of water and its rights. And, regretfully, now could be the only time.  




2020/7/7    이 지혜


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In the past for a few decades, Earth has been experiencing extreme weather conditions such as heat wave, heavy rain, tornadoes, heavy snow, drought, floods, earthquakes, cold wave, etc.. And it is determined that the cause of every related extreme whether incidents above, is due to climate change | global warming. And this phenomenon of incessant climate change | global warming is becoming a threat to the various human rights of every person causing illness and starvation in various regions. 


The fundamental cause of climate change is the carbon dioxide ( = greenhouse gas). Thus, a proper control and management of the carbon dioxide will be an important task the world needs to focus on in order to prevent further climate change | global warming. The claims of the importance of proper control and management of carbon dioxide were first raised in the report "The Limits to Growth" of the Club of Rome (i.e., founded in 1968). Ever since the mid-1980s, where climate change was first emerged as an international issue, discussions and negotiations on how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions between countries have been in progress ever since. 

As many people know, climate change has a direct and indirect negative impact on human rights. It does not just rest on changing the global ecosystem yet it could be a further threat to destroy the foundation of human survival itself, because climate change tends to pose a serious threat to human life, health, physical safety, water, food, housing and self-determination. It is a major obstacle to the realization of human rights established in the International Human Rights Norm system. And one of the main reasons that climate change is regarded as an obstacle to the very human rights is that the impact of climate change is not evenly distributed to every country. That is, the negative impact of climate change hits the hardest on developing countries, particularly the small islands, dry high mountain countries, and low-lying coastal countries that have limited resilient recovery and resources. As this, the countries that have little responsibility for climate change are exposed to the highest environmental risks, regretfully. For example, the small island of Tuvalu, albeit there is nearly no greenhouse gas emissions due to little industrialization incurring little responsibility for climate change, the country currently is experiencing serious crisis of submergence due to the steady rise in sea level (i.e., in general, the cause of the sea level is generally flooding and coastal erosion which is linked to climate change).

According to a report by the Development Assistance Research Associates, about 14% of the deaths occur from developed countries due to climate change, while 82 % in developing countries. Further in developing countries, the economic impact of climate change has been estimated to be a massive loss of 11% of GDP within a few years.  Additionally, provided that the current use of fossil fuels continues, it is estimated that additional 6 million deaths will be added within a decade and the damage will be further intensified, especially in the developing countries.


And in order to prevent this misfortune, a number of renown international human rights organizations submitted statements. However, the statements that were actually submitted had no mention of imposing or demanding a realistic discipline on the parties/defendants who directly risked the environment, yet merely imposing obligations on countries to prevent the environmental issues from further happening. Yet, given the severity of the current climate change | global warming, this cannot be a direct resolution. What we actually need at this very time is a realistic and effective environmental system that underscores the built "disciplinary" mechanism rather than "preventive" mechanism. In other words, it is necessary to have a universal mechanism in deciding what type of accountability the government | companies must take as to the environment-related misconducts they have been making and still making and will make without being punished. And the reason is because these people and entities are the ones who have been constantly violating and will violate the rules of environmental law and relevant human rights, exacerbating the situation of our environment which has been leading the world to a world where climate change | global warming is permeated, leading the world to a world where the powerful and the rich could get away with it, while the weak and the poor continue to suffer due to the fault of others. 

The rights to maintain a healthy life is one of the fundamental human rights every person deserves. A few decades ago, the situation that threatened this basic human rights was "war". Yet, in the past decades, climate change | global warming has been viewed as an additional negative impact in threatening this basic human rights. Thus, under environmental human rights perspective, what the world needs right now is to find a mandatory way to reduce the environmental misconducts. And this is possible only when every chain of people & companies that are linked to the cause of environmental misconduct to cooperate with people & organizations that are against them. In other words, it is crucial for the former parties to learn and understand the claims of the latter parties, complement and cooperate with them to achieve the necessary universal goal (i.e., end climate change and global warming), not through competitive hostile relationship yet through complementary collaborative one. Let's again please remind ourselves that without natural clean environment, life in this world will gradually fade away. And this is reality, reality we could avoid and must avoid. 


Environmental  Issue  & 

2020/4/21  Alicia  Jie-Hye Lee &  Jay Ja-Wook Goo

현재 지구는 지금껏 갑작스러우면서도 지속적인 폭염, 폭우, 토네이도, 폭설, 가뭄, 홍수, 지진, 한파와 같은 이상 기후의 현상을 경험하고 있습니다. 그리고 이러한 현상들의 원인으로는 기후 변화 / 지구 온난화가 지배적이라는 것은 당연지사이겠죠. 하지만 이러한 심각한 기후 변화 / 지구 온난화 현상은 이에 그치는 것이 아니라 현 생존하고 있는 인간에게 질병 그리고 기아를 유발하는 원인이 되고 있으며, 이 지구내에 생존하고 있는 인간이라면 당연히 누려야할 바로 다양한 인간의 권리마저 심각하게 위협하고 있습니다.

지구 온난화 현상의 주요원인은 온실가스라고 볼 수 있기 때문에,  바로 이러한 온실가스의 적절한 통제와 관리가 지구 온난화 방지를 위해서 가장 필요하다고 볼 수 있습니다. 이러한 온실가스의 적절한 통제와 관리의 중요성에 대한 주장은 1968년에 설립된 로마 클럽의 보고서 '성장의 한계'에서 최초로 제기되었다고 하는데요, 이렇게 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화는 1980년대 중반에 국제적인 이슈로 등장한 이래, 온실가스 배출량의 감축방안에 대한 논의와 관련된 국가들간의 협상들은 지금까지 계속되고 있습니다. 

이렇듯 기후 변로 생기는 이슈는 비일비재한데요, 그 중에서 가장 큰 이슈가 될 수 있는 것은 이러한 현상들이 각 국가들에게 균등하게 나타나고 있지 않다는 것입니다. 다시 말해서, 기후 변화의 부정적인 영향은 회복의 능력과 자원이 대체로 제한적인 빈곤국가를 비롯한 개발도상국, 그 중에서도 특히 작은 섬나라, 건조한 고산악지대 국가 그리고 저지대의 연안국가 등에 가장 큰 영향을 주고 있습니다. 그리고 여기서 알아야할 가장 중요한 것은, 많은 분들께서 알고 계시듯이, 기후 변화 / 지구 온난화의 원인이 되는 물질 유발에 책임이 거의 없는 국가들이 도리어 높은 환경 위험에 빈번하게 노출되고 있습니다. 즉, 기후 변화의 원인인 온실가스 배출량이 적은 국가가 기후 변화에 더 취약한 상태에 놓이는 이른바 기후 불평등 이슈가 심각하게 일어나고 있다는 것입니다.  예를 들어, 태평양에 있는 작은 섬나라 투발루는 산업화가 거의 이루어지지 않아 온실가스  배출이 거의 없기에 기후 변화의 원인이 되는 물질 유발에 대한 책임이 거의 없음에도 불구하고, 섬 주의의 해수면이 지속적으로 상승하고 있어 수몰위기에 처해 있다고 합니다 (많은 분들께서 알고 계시듯이, 해수면의 상승은 기후 변화 / 지구 온난화 현상과 연결이 되는 연안  저지대 및 습지의 범람 해안 침식이 바로 주 원인입니다). 


​​현 Development Assistance Research Associate의 보고서에 따르면, 기후 변화로 인한 선진국내에서의 사망률은 14 %에 해당하는 반면에 개발도상국의 사망률은 82 %를  차지하고 있으며, 개발도상국의 경우 기후 변화의 경제적 타격이 몇 년 후에는 GDP의 11 %에 해당하는 엄청난 손실을 입을 것이라고 기록되어 있습니다. 또한 지금과 같은 화석연료 중심의 사용 행태가 이어지게 될 경우, 앞으로 연간 600만 명이 추가로 목숨을 잃을 수 있으며, 그 피해는 특히 빈곤국가에서 더욱 심화될 것이라고 보고서는 예견하고 있습니다. 

이러한 심각한 상황을 방지하기 위하여 많은 저명한 국제 인권 단체들은 기후 변화와 관련된 성명서와 해결 방안들을 제출해 왔습니다. 그러나 안타깝게도 실제로 제출된 성명서들이나 해결 방안들에는 환경을 직접적으로 위협하고 있는 가해자들에 대한 실질적인 징계의 부과 대신, 기후 변화와 관련된 환경 이슈가 더 이상 발생하지 않도록 국가들의 의무 부과만을 강조하고 있습니다. 그러나 현재의 기후 변화 / 지구 온난화의 심각성을 감안해 볼 때, 국가들에게만 환경 보호의 의무를 부과하는 것은 기후 변화를 완화시킬 수 있는 직접적인 해결 방안이 아닙니다. 이 해결 방안은 지금까지 추진해 온 방안이며 효과를 제대로 보지 못한 방안이기 때문입니다. 현재 국제사회가 필요로 하는 것은 "예방" 메커니즘 보다는, 구축된 "징계" 메커니즘을 강조하는 효과적인 환경 보호 시스템입니다. 즉, 정부 / 관련 기업들이 처벌받지 않은 채 지금까지 저질러 왔고 지금도 저지르고 있는 환경 관련 위법 행위에 대한 처벌 과정을 결정하는 보편적인 메커니즘이 필요하다라는 것입니다. 이 "징계" 메커니즘은 이러한 환경 관련된 위법 행위를 저지르는 정부와 관련기업들이 바로 앞으로도 계속 환경법규 및 관련 인권을 위반할 당사자들이라는 점에서, 그리고 강자는 법규를 어겨도 넘어갈 수 있다는 잘못된 이념이 굳혀질 수 있다는 점에서, 그리고 이러한 대부분의 강자들의 위법 행위로 인해 결국에는 약자와 가난한 사람들이 고통받을 것이라는 점에서, 더욱 절실하게 필요한 방안이라고 볼 수 있습니다.  

건강한 삶을 유지할 권리는 이 지구상의 인간이라면 반드시 누려야 할 기본 인권 중 하나 입니다. 지난 수십 년 전만 해도 이 기본 인권을 위협하는 것은 '전쟁'이었습니다. 그러나 몇 수십 년 동안 기후 변화 | 지구 온난화는 전쟁과 함께 인간의 기본 인권을 위협하는 추가적인 부정적인 재난으로 간주되어 왔습니다. 그렇기에 환경 인권의 관점에서 지금 이 지구가 필요로 하는 것은 환경에 대항하는 부정행위를 줄일 수 있는 조금은 강압적인 해결 방안을 찾는 것이라고 볼 수 있겠습니다. 그리고 이는 직접적으로 환경 부정행위에 종사하고 연결되어 있는 사람들과 기업들이 그들의 부정행위에 반대하는 사람들과 단체들과의  협상타결이 있을 시에만 가능합니다. 다시 말해서,  지구상의 필수불가결한 보편적 목표 (즉, 기후 변화와 지구온난화의 종식)를 달성하기 위해서는 전자의 사람들이 후자의 사람들의 주장을 배우고 이해하며, 경쟁적이고 적대적인 관계가 아닌, 서로간의 보완적이고 협력적인 관계에서 해결해 나가는 것이 중요할 것입니다. 이 세상에 깨끗하고 진정 자연다운 환경이 점점 사라진다면 우리 서로가 살아가는 이 세상에서의 삶 역시 점차 사라질 것이라는 것, 다시 되새겨 봤으면 합니다. 이는 현실이며, 우리가 피할 수 있고 또 반드시 피해야 할 현실임을 잊지 말았으면 합니다. 


환경 이슈 &

2021/4/21     이  지혜 & 구  자욱

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