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Public Participation in Environmental Decisionmaking

Luke J. Danielson, Avra Rubalcava, International Environmental Law for Natural Resources Practitioners (1997)

A wide variety of legal, administrative, and business concerns march under the banner of “public participation.” On one level, these interests amount to no more and no less than a general concern for observance of the most fundamental human political rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Charter of the United Nations on the international level, and innumerable constitutions and charters at the national level: rights such as the right to petition government for the redress of grievances, the right to freedom of expression on public issues, the right peaceably to assemble to discuss matters of common interest, and the right to expect that one's life, health, and property will be protected against arbitrary and unwarranted invasion.

This paper will discuss the concept of public participation (Section I); the growing international recognition of rights to public participation in environmental decisions (Section II); developing bodies of law regarding rights of public participation in several South American countries (Section III); and some aspects of business strategies for dealing with public participation in these regulatory climates (Section IV).