4258 Litigating the Right to a Healthy Environment

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R 2011: 6

Litigating the Right to a Healthy Environment Assessing the Policy Impact of The Mendoza Case

Kristi Innvr Staveland-Ster

Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is an independent, non-profit research institution and a major international centre in policy-oriented and applied development research. Focus is on development and human rights issues and on international conditions that affect such issues. The geographical focus is Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern and Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. CMI combines applied and theoretical research. CMI research intends to assist policy formulation, improve the basis for decision-making and promote public debate on international development issues.

Assessing the Policy Impact of The Mendoza Case

Litigating the Right to a Healthy Environment

Kristi Innvr Staveland-Ster

R 2011: 6

Master Thesis: Kristi Innvr Staveland-Ster, Department of Comparative Politics University of Bergen, June 2010

The Matanza-Riachuelo River Basin is currently presented with a historic opportunity, perhaps its last, to rectify its miserable state, thus improving the quality of life of millions of inhabitants and creating an important model for taking action in the public and private sectors, providing information to the public and fostering citizen participation. This model can then be applied in other cases throughout Argentina in hope of consolidating a new paradigm for sustainable development. (Andrs M. Napoli in FARN 2009b: 88)

Project number 27104 Project title Litigating the Right to Health

ContentsAbstract ........................................................................................................................................................... v Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................................................... v List of abbreviations and translations ............................................................................................................. vi Stages in the process in the Mendoza case .....................................................................................................vii 1. Introduction............................................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 2. 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 3. 3.1 3.2 3.3 4. 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 5. 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 6. 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Research question .................................................................................................................................. 2 Methodological approach: qualitative case study ................................................................................. 2 Outline .................................................................................................................................................... 3 Literature review .................................................................................................................................... 4 Rights and accountability mechanisms in a democracy ......................................................................... 5 An analytical framework for analyzing the litigation process ................................................................ 7 Marginalized peoples voice ................................................................................................................... 9 Courts responsiveness ......................................................................................................................... 10 Judges capability ................................................................................................................................. 10 Authorities compliance and implementation...................................................................................... 11 Policy impact ........................................................................................................................................ 12 Courts and enforcement of social rights .............................................................................................. 14 Time aspect .......................................................................................................................................... 16 Fieldwork .............................................................................................................................................. 16 Data ...................................................................................................................................................... 17 The pollution problem in the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin .............................................................. 20 Institutional context ............................................................................................................................. 21 Environmental law ............................................................................................................................... 21 Political context .................................................................................................................................... 22 Environmental policies ......................................................................................................................... 23 Civil society and the environment ........................................................................................................ 23 Matanza-Riachuelo before the case was filed to the Supreme Court .................................................. 24 Voice ..................................................................................................................................................... 25 Courts responsiveness ......................................................................................................................... 27 Judges capability ................................................................................................................................. 28 The implementation process ................................................................................................................ 29 The process of making a plan to clean up the Matanza-Riachuelo ...................................................... 30 Compliance with the Judgement issued on 8 July 2008 ....................................................................... 37 Opening political space ........................................................................................................................ 39 Direct policy impact .............................................................................................................................. 39 Change in public policies ...................................................................................................................... 40 Changes in budgetary allocations......................................................................................................... 40 Access to information........................................................................................................................... 41

Analytical framework for assessing policy impact of public interest litigation ......................................... 4

Methodological approach and data ....................................................................................................... 15

The pollution problem and context ....................................................................................................... 20

The litigation process in the Mendoza case ........................................................................................... 25

Policy Impact ......................................................................................................................................... 39

iii

6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 6.10 7. 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5

Change the conduct of actors in the lawsuit ........................................................................................ 41 Media and change in public deliberation ............................................................................................. 42 Awareness of Rights and legal and social mobilization ........................................................................ 43 Symbolic effects ................................................................................................................................... 44 Different views on the role of the Supreme Court in the Mendoza Case ............................................ 46 Case study of a structural litigation case .............................................................................................. 47 Analytical approach .............................................................................................................................. 47 Summary of the analysis of the litigation process ............................................................................... 47 Policy effects of the Mendoza case ...................................................................................................... 48 Implications for further research ......................................................................................................... 49

Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................. 47

References ..................................................................................................................................................... 50

List of figures and tablesFigure 1: Table 1: Table 2: Table 3: Map 1: Figure 2: A new view on litigation: broader avenues of potential influence ........................................................ 8 Types and examples of effects of judicial decisions ............................................................................. 13 List of interviews .................................................................................................................................. 17 List of the most important Internet sources ........................................................................................ 19 Map of the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin .......................................................................................... 19 Typology of different policy effects of the Mendoza case ................................................................... 45

iv

CMI REPORT

LITIGATING THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

R 2011 6

AbstractThis thesis enquires into the policy consequences of the Mendoza case, a public interest litigation case in Argentina, in which several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the National Ombudsman demanded action from authorities responsible for cleaning up the Matanza-Riachuelo river basin. The inter-jurisdictional pollution problem has existed for about 200 years, and it has been estimated to affect the health of more than 3.5 million people. However, the policymakers have mostly ignored the pollution problem. The response by the Supreme Court opened the political space for solving this problem. Since litigation is progressively being used as a strategy to hold governments accountable for implementing rights, it is important to assess the policy impact of litigation. This case study of the Mendoza case explores the dynamics in the policymaking process at all stages of the litigation process; from the time when a group of neighbours voiced their claims into the legal system, through the adjudication stage, and in the process of implementing the judgement. At all stages in the process the analysis identifies impact on social mobilization, policies and the policymaking process. The public hearings ordered by the Supreme Court initiated a process of dialogue between the parts in the Mendoza case. On 8 July 2008 the Supreme Court issued a landmark judgement that ordered the responsible authorities to implement a program of public policies to restore the environment, prevent future harm and improve the lives of the people living in the river basin area. Although the responsible authorities only to a limited extent have complied with the judgement, the analysis finds that the litigation has had a remarkable policy impact. It has also changed the policymaking process and it has had considerable indirect policy impact on social mobilization.

AcknowledgementsThis master thesis was written at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, and is linked to the research project Litigating the right to health. First of all, I want to thank my supervisor Siri Gloppen for all her contributions; for sharing her knowledge about the topic with me, for insightful comments on my work, for including me in the research group on Litigating the right to health, for providing me with a scholarship, for organizing the seminar in Bergen and for inspiration. I want to thank CMI for providing me with an inspiring learning environment, a scholarship, and for the financial support for doing fieldwork in Argentina. I want to thank Lise Rakner, Ottar Mstad, Karin Ask, Elin Skaar and others in the research group on Rights, Development and Democracy for good advice and for constructive comments on my project proposal. I also want to thank Leiv Marsteintredet and Einar Berntzen for providing funding to stay a week at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and thanks to the staff at GIGA for assistance in searching for literature on the topic. I especially want to thank Carolina Farstein for persuading me to write my master thesis about the Mendoza case, for inspiration, for all information and help, and for organizing some of my interviews. I also particularly want to thank Paola Bergallo for organizing several of my interviews, for answering questions and recommending literature. I want to thank Diego Morales, Alejandro Rossi, Alfredo Alberti, Cristina Fins, Lourdes Bascary, Maria Florencia Saulino, Catalina Smulowitz and Laura Pautassi for your contributions to my understanding of the topic. A special thanks to Daniel Brinks, Kathryn Hochstetler, Camila Gianella, Roberto Gargarella, and Bruce Wilson for all your constructive comments on my draft. I want to thank everyone in the research group on Litigating the right to health for inspiration and knowledge. I want to thank everyone that I have mentioned above for their contributions, without making them responsible for the contents of this thesis.

v

CMI REPORT

LITIGATING THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

R 2011 6

List of abbreviations and translationsACDH ACUMAR AVLB CELS CEDHA CMI COFEMA ECE FARN GEL IDB IPS PISA WHO Asociacin Ciudadana por los Derechos Humanos (The Citizen Assoc...