Dr Emily Jones (University of Essex) presents her groundbreaking work on the rights of nature in international law, drawing on indigenous, postcolonial, and feminist thought
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Critical international environmental law scholars have uncovered the anthropocentrism of the law, arguing that international environmental law upholds a problematic subject/object binary. Critics thereby argue that the environment and non-human animals are rendered objects in international environmental law, to be used for human (and primarily human economic) interests. In the meantime, in the context of climate change and the closing window of opportunity to take action, states globally, from Aotearoa New Zealand, to Bangladesh, the US, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and beyond have begun to recognise the rights of nature. The recognition of the environment as either having legal personality or as a rights holder (the approach differing, thus far, according to context) in international law has the potential to challenge the anthropocentrism of the law. However, while the rights of nature have been recognised in domestic law, little attention has been given to their application in international law, while the question of what the rights of nature may include and exclude remains contested.
This paper will begin by outlining some of the core critiques of rights, drawing on feminist, postcolonial and other critical scholarship to highlight the gendered, racialised, and (neo) liberal logic which underpins international human rights law. The paper will then go on to consider whether the recognition of the rights of nature is inevitably bound up in the limits of rights discourse, or whether the rights of nature can, themselves, transform the meaning of rights, drawing on Indigenous perspectives and post-human legal theory to map new conceptual underpinnings for rights in international law. The paper will conclude with some reflections on whether the recognition of the rights of nature can be used to transform international environmental law beyond its current anthropocentric framing.
The seminar will conclude with a short response talk from Dr Sheri Labenski (Goldsmiths) and a Q&A.
Dates & times
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|1 Dec 2022
|3:30pm - 5:00pm
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