These rights are referred to as second generation rights, they relate to the quality of life of individuals and communities. Therefore, they are rights which translate economic and social rights into particular environmental standard which promise to allow human rights observation and enjoin corporate bodies to consider whether substantive environmental conditions and standards are being maintained at satisfactory level or whether environmental dislocations have impinged on the enjoyment of rights guaranteed.
Economic and social rights are recognized and protected in international and regional human rights instruments. Member states have a legal obligation to respect and fulfill economic and social rights and are also expected to take “progressive action” towards their fulfillment.
Economic and Social rights, in the context of environmental issues, include.
i. Proprietary rights
ii. Right to family life
iii. Right to standard of living, adequate to health and will being
iv. Right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
These rights are grouped together and discussed under the following sub-headings:
i. Property right.
ii. Other rights, in respect of rights under (ii) – (IV) above
a) Proprietary right: - The constitution of Nigeria guarantees the acquisition and ownership of immoveable property anywhere in Nigeria.48
The ACHPR provides thus:
The right to property shall be guaranteed. It may only be encroached upon in the interest of public need or in the general interest of the community and in accordance with the provisions of appropriate laws49
The UDHR also guarantees this right to own property alone as follows:
i) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
ii) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
In the oil producing communities, the enjoyment of proprietary right is replete with problems. Land is a proprietary right which forms the base for some human economic activities for the acquisition of immovable and moveable proprietary interest and is protected by various laws in favour of oil companies.
Thus, Land is acquired by oil companies for oil activities and no form of effective protection is given to those persons whose livelihoods may be destroyed by such acquisition. Again, infringement on proprietary rights extends beyond expropriation of land. For instance, the oil industry impinges on people’s livelihood through gas flaring which results in light pollution. Oil Spillage, which commonly occurs in the area, kills large numbers of fishes in creeks and fresh water swamp.
b) Other rights: - Other aspects of Economic and Social rights include:
a. Right to highest standard of living adequate to health and well being.
b. Right to the attainable standard of physical and mental health, and
c. Right to family life
The right to standard of living adequate to health and well being and right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health are treated together. The constitution50 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that.
The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives, for which provisions are made in this constitution, control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice, equality of status and opportunity”.
The UDHR guarantees that everyone has the right to a standard living adequate for the health and well being of him and his family.51 The AFCHPR recognizes the right under Article 16 (1).
In the same respect, right to private and family life is guaranteed and protected under the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.52 The UDHR provides thus:
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary Interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence or to attacks upon his honour and reputation” .53
The group in group right “describes the nature of the right holders. It does not describe the mere fact that the right is confined to the members of a group rather than possessed at large.54 A feature of these types of rights is that they tend to require the co-ordinate resolve not only of people in the community but organs of the state and private and international bodies.55
The modern context “group rights” are argued for by some as an instrument to actively facilitate the realization of equality. In a society where there is already equality before the law for all citizens, “equality” is often a euphemistic reference to material equality (money and resources).
This is where the group right is regarded as being in a situation such that it needs special protective rights if its members are to enjoy living conditions on terms equal with the majority of the population. Examples of such group may include: Indigenous people, Ethnic minorities, women, children and the disabled.
These rights are also referred to as solidarity rights and third generation rights.
According to Karel Vasak, these right
“Seek to infuse dimension into areas Where it has it has all too often been missing having been left to the states. They are new in that they may be invoked against the state and demanded of it, but above all………they can be realized only through the concerted effort of all the actors on social scene: the individual, State, public and private bodies and the international community56
This third generation rights span through Right to be different to Right to a healthy environment. We shall discuss in particular the following:
1. Right to development and
2. Right to a healthy environment
i. Right to Development:- The right to development involves the right of man to develop in economic, social and cultural matters. To this end, States are vested with the responsibility of creating favourable atmosphere for the enjoyment of right to development for the transformation of his society.
The former President of Senegal, Late Leopold Senghor asserted that:-
Our overall concept of Human Rights is marked by the Right to development since it integrates all economic, social and cultural rights, and also civil and political rights.
Development is first and foremost a change of quality of life and not only an economic growth required at all costs, particularly in the blind repression of individuals and peoples. It is the full development of every man in his Community57
ii. Right to a Healthy Environment:- This right involves the right to enjoy a friendly, benign and pollution-free environment. This right has been duly recognized as a fundamental right.58 According to the AFCHR,59 “All people shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development. It is imperative to note that a healthy environment implies an environment that is protected from devastation, abuses and pollution, be it solid, liquid or gas.