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A Human Rights View Of Fracking

Recorded on: February 27, 2015

Air Date: March 2nd, 2015

A relatively new, and currently controversial, process for extracting natural gas (methane) and oil from shale formations is high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, as it is called, has motivated the creation of a substantial literature of personal narratives recounting fracking’s adverse impact on humans.

A Human Rights Impact Assessment can detail the human rights implications of fracking. Such an assessment can lay out which human rights norms are applicable, how they apply, and the potential liabilities the project might face. Then, the assessments can recommend measures that industry or government should take to reduce those liabilities.

Tom Kerns, will describe the genesis and conclusions of a human rights approach to fracking and what makes this approach beneficial. He is an emeritus professor of Philosophy at North Seattle College and has taught online courses in Bioethics and Environment and Human Rights. He is the author of Environmentally Induced Illnesses: Ethics, Risk Assessment and Human Rights. Among his presentations, he has lectured at the World Health Organization Headquarters in Geneva.

The modern human rights movement began just after World War II, and the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Since then, a legally binding system for the promotion and protection of human rights has developed. It encompasses more than 80 UDHR-inspired international human rights treaties and declarations together with a large number of regional human rights conventions, domestic human rights bills, and constitutional provisions compose. The environmental movement covers roughly the same time span, but the two movements developed independently until about 15 years ago.

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