Environmental Security and Displaced People in Southern Africa
When nations are in political transition, environmental issues become a low public and state priority. The case of Central and Eastern Europe is an obvious example. There, although environmental activism played a part in bringing about political change leading to the events of 1989, environmental victimization remains rampant. South Africa is the other example. It seems unlikely that there could ever be a public uprising against the Mandela government because of, for instance, a polluting state industry. Yet, despite competing demands, the South African Constitution set a world benchmark in relation to adverse environmental impacts on human beings. Intentionally or not, Article 29 would relate to the whole environmental victimization paradigm, not just the presence aspect. Moreover, it might even embrace acts by South African citizens that affect others outside South Africa’s borders. It states, without qualification, that “Every person shall have the right to an environment which is not detrimental to his or her health or well-being” (Article 29, Act 200, 1993). In light of the unique circumstances of Southern Africa in transition, Meena Singh, of the South Africa Common Security Forum, outlines current problems and priorities, supporting her arguments with some surprising and little-known facts and figures. She does this not only in relation to one nation, but also in the context of the whole Southern African region.
environmental justice movement, environmental protection, refugees, South Africa, Southern Africa — international
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 23, No. 4 (1996): 125-133