The course examines the interrelationships between human rights, the environment and development. It will attempt to probe into the interplay between these concepts and show their role and complementarity in the process of human development and sustainability. The focus will be on exploring the inter-linkages and tensions between human rights and the environment within the context of how unsustainable development, especially businesses are driving environmental degradation and some of the most disturbing global human rights defilements. Whereas themes will be introduced in their global context, distinctive emphasis will be placed on developments in Africa and other Southern Countries. The intersection of human rights and the environment is a topical and embryonic field, and an important agenda for legal advocacy, education and activism for sustainable development.

Worldwide, communities and peoples are experiencing the impacts and effects of environmental degradation, species extinctions, the fragility of ecosystems, the phenomenon of climate change, and the destructions and undermining of water and food systems. This also includes massive grabbing of customary lands from indigenous and local communities without their consent, the obliteration of sacred, cultural and traditional sites including altering their livelihood.  As a result, the planet and its people including fundamental and basic human rights are at risk. This has significantly affected rights to life, water, food, health, work and habitats as well as cultural and traditional livelihood activities.