Balancing its way out of strong anthropocentrism: integration of ‘ecological minimum standards’ in the European Court of Human Rights’ ‘fair balance’ review
  • 1 Senior Lawyer at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg

This article argues that the Strasbourg system of environmental human rights can and ought to transition to the regime of ecological human rights. It proposes that, independently of the possible recognition of the autonomous right to a healthy environment, such transition can be achieved by integrating ecological minimum standards into the European Court of Human Rights’ ‘fair balance’ review. These ecological minimum standards are a set of notions that express the legal paradigms of immersive anthropocentrism and ecocentrism; that give due consideration to climate and biodiversity crises; and that include the concepts of sustainable development and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as the principles of intergenerational equity, precaution and in dubio pro natura. A comparative law methodology is employed to illustrate the effective judicial integration of such standards by fundamental and human rights jurisdictions in Latin America.

Contributor Notes

natalia.kobylarz@echr.coe.int. The author works as a Senior Lawyer at the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. She also teaches the courses of International Human Rights Law and Human Rights and the Environment at the University of Grenoble Alpes. She holds an LL.M. degree in International and Comparative Law from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, United States; a Master 2 degree in Environmental Law from Strasbourg University, France; and a Master of Law degree from the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska in Lublin, Poland. In 2016 she was seconded to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the European Court of Human Rights or the Council of Europe. The Registry gives support to the Court and cannot in any way influence the Court’s decisions on the admissibility and/or the merits of any case. The author wishes to thank the editors, Evadne Grant and Anna Grear, the anonymous peer reviewers, as well as friends and colleagues, Jorge Calderón-Gamboa, Mario Peña Chacón, Robert Spano, Pere Pastor Vilanova and Attila Teplan, for the insightful discussions or for their comments on the earlier versions of this paper.

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