For Human Rights Beyond Borders

Human Rights have been locked up behind domestic bars to prevent their universal application to globalization and its much needed regulation. Extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) unlock human rights.

Toggle Feature

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognizes the extraterritorial dimension of the right to a healthy environment

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has reaffirmed in its Advisory Opinion OC-23/17 the extraterritorial obligation of States to protect and guarantee the human right to a healthy environment (Article 11 Protocol of San Salvador).

The advisory opinion is an answer to a request from Colombia which wanted the Court to elaborate on States' human rights obligations in relation to the environment, in the context of a dispute with Nicaragua concerning an oil drilling project in the Caribbean. 

In its landmark advisory opinion the Court reaffirmed the intrinsic connection between the right to a healthy environment and other human rights such as the right to life and personal integrity established in the American Convention on Human Rights. 

The court furthermore establishes in Advisory Opinion OC-23/17 that the obligation of States to protect human rights goes beyond their borders. The Court clarifies circumstances in which the extraterritorial conduct of the States constitute an exercise of jurisdiction by that State (parr.74-78) and therefore clearly states that the "jurisdiction of a State is not limited to its territorial space" (parr.95). The Court recognizes in paragraph 97 of the advisory opinion that a State can be responsible for the violation of the right to a healthy environment beyond its borders (parr.97).