On huamn rights and the right to an adequate environment for one's health and well being

Open Access
Curto, Michael Anthony
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Amy T Linch, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Human Rights
  • Environmental Degradation
  • John Rawls
  • Veil of Ignorance
The topic of this paper deals with human rights, specifically the internationally recognized human right to an adequate environment for one’s health and well-being. At the outset, I provide an overview of human rights among political theorists and detail how such rights developed over time, and how they continually change. I then examine a case study of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta. The case study illustrates the link between a degraded environment and the abridgement of human rights. I employ an ethical model developed through Aristotle and John Rawls to evaluate this case. Subsequently, I explore how society must deal with conflicting claims on the advantages won by social cooperation and the resulting appropriate division of advantages and disadvantages in accordance with principles acceptable to all affected parties. To create a situation where all parties may agree, I utilize the political framework of John Rawls’ original position and conception of the veil of ignorance. This thesis assumes that people acknowledge the benefit of correcting the unfair natural lottery of where people are placed in life.