human rights, clean air, international law, environmental law, environmental policy


Combatting environmental damage has become a primary goal of the international community. Unfortunately, international human rights law has not taken this aim seriously. Although the Inter-American regional human rights system, one of three regional human rights institutions, empathizes with protecting the environment, it enervates such goals by barring victims of air pollution and climate change from access to judicial remedies. Seeking to bridge the gap between human rights law and environmental protection, this article explains why clean air is a human right, develops the positive content for such a right, and evaluates the practical reasons that justify the right’s importance. The article then concludes by proposing two legal strategies that will eliminate procedural barriers to victims of air pollution pursuing legal remedies within the Inter-American human rights system.