Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Edited by Anna Grear and Evadne Grant

In the climate-pressed Anthropocene epoch, nothing could be more urgent than fresh engagements with the fractious relationships between ‘humanity’, law and the living order. This collection draws together theoretical reflections, doctrinal analyses and insights drawn from rights-based praxis to offer thoughtful – and at times provocative – engagements with the limitations of law at it faces the complexities of contemporary socio-ecological life-worlds in an age of climate crisis.

Chapter 6: Re-imagining adjudication: human rights courts and the environment

Evadne Grant

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights

Extract

The aim of the 2012 GNHRE O-ati International Workshop, ‘Human Rights and the Environment: In Search of a New Relationship’, was to explore ways of re-imagining the relationship between human rights and the environment. In the course of thought-provoking conversations around papers exploring aspects of the philosophical, legal and practical dimensions of this relationship, one of the most pervasive themes that emerged was the importance of re-establishing vital connections, not only between human rights and the environment, but also between rights, and between individuals, communities and rights. As Cormac Cullinan reflects in Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice: The human societies that presently dominate the world govern on the basis of a false understanding of the universe. The core falsehood is that we humans are separate from our environment and that we can flourish even as the health of Earth deteriorates. … The governance structures, legal philosophies (jurisprudence), and laws established by many societies reflect and entrench the illusion of separation and independence. This encourages and legitimises environmentally and socially destructive behaviour and hinders the development of more appropriate forms of social organisation … The significance of the very close connection between human rights and the environment is increasingly being recognised, within international human rights law as well as environmental law. The 2012 Preliminary Report of John Knox, Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment, provides a clear example of the recognition that ‘[h]uman rights and environmental protection are inherently interdependent’.

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