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ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND OIL SPILLAGES: AN INDICTMENT TO ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

Since the beginning of civilization, man has always been motivated by the need to make progress and better the lives of fellow mankind by exploring the natural environment. It is indisputable that the natural environment before the advent of environmental degradation, created unlimited opportunities for development and economic sufficiency of the inhabitants or the populace, but with the advent of environmental degradation, the inhabitants have been denied these opportunities and made to languish in abject poverty. In recognition of the dangers posed by environmental degradation, the international community and the Nigerian government have put in place various laws to combat environmental degradation, while the various environmental laws in Nigeria and that of the international community (international legal instrument) in combating environmental degradations intended to yield encouraging result by enhancing environmental sustainability. The recalcitrant attitude of those involved in environmental degradation has continued to attenuate environmental laws with the government and its agency indirectly collaborating in the act of flouting environmental laws. Unfortunately, the existing law legal mechanism in place have done little or nothing to eradicate this menace of environmental degradation. Environmental degradation continues to evolve every day and everywhere with no end in sight of how this crime can be checked. Thus this thesis intends to appraise how environmental degradation constitutes an indictment to human right and environmental laws. It also aims to serve as a theoretical framework for the review and harmonization of the relevant municipal and legal instruments. Similarly international agency/corporation in combating environmental degradation will not be left out. Hence, it is imperative to give a brief description or definition of environmental degradation. Environmental Degradation Before environmental degradation is considered we must first of all know what is environment or what constitutes the environment. Environment is the natural world in which people, animals and plants live. The Black’s Law Dictionary also defines it as the totality of physical, economic, cultural, aesthetic and social circumstances and factors which surround and affect the desirability of value of property and which also affect the quality of life of people’s lives. Under the Nigeria law, “environment” includes water, air, land and all plants and human beings or animals living therein and the inter-relationship which exist among these or any of them. Therefore Environmental Degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of the ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the high level threat panel of the United Nations. Therefore the importance and relevance of the environment cannot be over-emphasized, the environment is a complex and delicate system that when properly managed and harnessed can be geared to productive domestic, aesthetic and even spiritual benefit but when poorly managed could predictably be hazardous not only to human survival, but the survival of all living things. It is therefore inferable that the environment is the physical foundation upon which survival rests.It is however sad to note that over the years, the environment has been greatly threatened with adverse and disastrous effects on human habitation and survival, which has reflected in the World Bank report. More than 30,000 people die each day globally, short of their predestined life span due to environmental degradation and pollution. In a year, 108 million people die as a result of environmental degradation and pollution. Further research shows that between 1990 and 2009, which has a period of 19 years, about 7.3 million people died worldwide due to environmental degradation and pollution. Therefore it constitutes a threat to the existence of mankind and needs to be checked by all the countries and organizations in the globe.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The adverse effects of a single oil spill incident are often immense and unquantifiable. One key effect of an oil spill is pollution of the immediate environment. The extent of pollution of that environment depends on the amount of oil spilled into the environment during that incident; the response made towards clean-up of the oil spill and the quantity of oil that reaches the surrounding land. The type of environment the oil is spilled into also affects the magnitude of the harm. It is in view of this that the researcher intend to investigate the effect of environmental degradation and oil spillage on the environment.

1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this study is to ascertain the effect of environmental degradation and oil spillage indictment to environmental law and human rights. But for the successful completion of the study; the researcher intends to achieve the following sub-objectives; i) To ascertain the effect of oil spillage on the environment. ii) To ascertain the role of the government in implementing environmental laws iii) To evaluate the relationship between environmental laws and human right iv) To investigate the impact of oil spillage on environmental degradation

1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

For the successful completion of the study the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher; H0: oil spillage does not have any significant effect on the environment H1: oil spillage does have a significant effect on the environment H0: the government does not play any significant role in implementing environmental laws. H2: government does play a significant role in implementing environmental laws

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the federal ministry of environment, as the study seek to address the effect oil spillage on the environment, the study also seek to address the adverse effect of environmental degradation indictment on environmental laws and human rights. The study will also be useful to researchers who intend to embark on research in similar topic, Finally the findings of this study will also be immense benefit to government, academia, scholars, researchers and the general public.

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study covers environmental degradation and oil spillage an indictment to environmental laws and human rights. But in the cause of the study there are some factors which militated against the scope of the study; a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study. b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study. c) FINANCE: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Environmental Degradation

Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable

Oil spillage

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.

Environmental laws

Environmental law – or “environmental and natural resources law” – is a collective term describing the network of treaties, statutes, regulations, common and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment. The core environmental law regimes address environmental pollution. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law

Human rights

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behavior, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law


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