On the Equalization of Basic Public Health Services in China’s Minority Ethnic Regions: A Case Study of Aba, Ganzi and Liangshan Prefectures of China’s Sichuan Province
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
Zhang Zhen (photo: Zhao Yifan)

On the Protection of the Environmental Rights of Ethnic Minorities in China
Zhang Zhen & Liao Jiachuan

Zhang Zhen, Professor of Southwest University of Political Science and Law 
Abstract: In recent years, the concept of environmental rights has been recognized by more and more Chinese scholars and have come to be widely regarded as one of the fundamental human rights, and are being increasingly confirmed by the Chinese government. On the other hand, however, there is an over-emphasis on environmental rights in the general sense at the expense of group-differentiation of environmental rights. As environmental rights may differ depending on specific geographical regions and subjects, it is therefore unjustified to view abstract person to be the subjects of environmental rights, and instead, differentiated analyses should be carried out for environmental rights of different types of subjects. A case in point is environmental rights of ethnic minorities. in the light ofdifferent subjectsRecent years have witnessed frequent and often highly destructive incidents of ecological and environmental pollution in regions inhabited by ethnic minorities, which obviously contravenes the objectives of disruptive impactsenvironmental rights. Therefore, in order to better protect the environment in ethnic minority areas and effectively put environmental rights into practice, due importance must be attached to the differentiation of environmental rights among different groups, and the environmental rights in the general sense must be brought in line with specific features of ethnic minorities, and provide specifically targeted protection to the environmental rights of ethnic minorities on the basis of special legal provisions. The special relationship between ethnic minorities and their environments determines that special protection must be provided for the environmental right of ethnic minorities and only in this way can the goals of environmental rights be achieved. The environmental rights of ethnic minorities are based on their rights to survival and their special cultural and economic situations. Compared with the universal environmental right, such special environmental rights which rely on unique environmental features, because of its special foundation, have a specific range, connotation and denotation. Generally speaking, the environmental rights of ethnic minorities refers to their rights and qualifications to enjoy suitable, healthy and good living environments and to make rational use of surrounding environment resources, with the right to the use the environment as its core. This right is not exclusively enjoyed by ethnic minorities, but is shared by all human beings, while giving special protection for minorities to guarantee the practical exercise of these rights. The basic point of protection of environmental rights in minority areas is to protect the substance of environmental right, with the key being to realize the healthy, stable and sustainable development of ecological environment in ethnic minority areas. Only in this way can the environmental rights of ethnic minorities be effectively protected. The protection of environmental rights in minority areas is of special value and is vital to the national unity; it is also the strategic need of national ecological security and is the theoretical and practical needs of the protection of environmental right. Based on full grasp of the connotation of the environmental rights of minorities, through the construction of effective systems, we hope to realize the transformation of environmental rights of minorities from "obligatory right" to "statutory right" and "actual right".
Key Words: Environmental Rights; Ethnic Minorities; China
Zhang Zhen, Professor, Human Rights Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law.
Liao Jiachuan, Master student, Administrative Law School at Southwest University of Political Science and Law.