This article examines the comprehensive reform of the Chinese environmental governance system since the early 2010s after the goal of constructing ecological civilization was integrated into China's state policies. Legislative changes have been undertaken in order to improve the environmental governance system and juridical environmental protection has been reinforced to tackle environmental challenges through a revised public interest litigation system. China's current environmental public interest litigation system consists of civil environmental public interest litigation and administrative environmental public interest litigation. Only procuratorates have standing in administrative environmental public interest litigation whereas environmental non-government organizations who are permitted to undertake civil cases are in practice marginalized. Individuals, on the other hand, do not have standing in either civil or administrative environmental public interest litigation cases. The ecological and environmental damages litigation system has been established in order to recognize government agencies that have standing in protecting environmental public interest.
Browse by title
Han Jiang, Patricia Blazey, Yan Wang and Hope Ashiabor
Guy Dwyer and Tristan Orgill
Anthropogenic underwater noise pollution (AUNP) generated by, inter alia, commercial shipping, military exercises, the use of sonar and seismic surveys has increased dramatically since the early 1950s. This has caused or contributed to the death and suffering of marine biota.
International and domestic law must adequately regulate AUNP in order for this transboundary and transjurisdictional form of pollution to be addressed. This article examines the two most comprehensive multilateral international conventions regulating the world's oceans and biodiversity – the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Convention on Biological Diversity – to address the question of whether these two conventions adequately protect marine biota from AUNP. It is argued that the existing regimes established under these conventions are inadequate because they do not: sufficiently recognise AUNP as a form of pollution; provide comprehensive and binding direction as to practical measures to prevent, mitigate or eliminate AUNP; or provide adequate enforcement regimes. To remedy these inadequacies, this article concludes by outlining a number of non-exhaustive law reform recommendations.
Ed Couzens, Tim Stephens, Katie Woolaston, Manuel Solis, Kate Owens, Saiful Karim, Cameron Holley and Evan Hamman
Biopiracy, largely defined as misappropriation of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge, has occurred all around the world. Southeast Asia, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, has been a victim of biopiracy in a number of cases across the region. Despite the high occurrence of the exploitation of resources, the region has not responded to the problem of biopiracy adequately. One of the most important reasons for this lack of response to biopiracy is the absence of a legally binding regional instrument(s). However, considering that (i) biopiracy does not respect national borders, (ii) most of the Southeast Asian states have ratified the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and (iii) soft law instruments adopted so far have failed to tackle biopiracy, this article argues that a legally binding regional regime should be established to tackle biopiracy in a consistent manner. Following an analysis of a number of biopiracy cases in the region, this article discusses why a legally binding instrument(s) is necessary. It suggests how to improve the current regional instruments pertaining to access and benefit sharing in relation to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge, based on the analysis of instruments adopted to tackle biopiracy in other regions.
One of the far-reaching consequences of climate change relates to the forced displacement of people. Climate-induced migration is a very complex issue. The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants noted the varied reasons for migration as being armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism, human rights violations, climate change and natural disasters. Despite the recognition in the very first IPCC report in 1990 that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration, it took climate negotiators over two decades to include displacement in climate documents. This article discusses complexity, scale and displacement scenarios, paying particular attention to the plight of small island states and to the climate-conflict-displacement nexus. It analyses the legal regime applicable to political refugees under international law and the current legal lacuna with regard to climate refugees. It surveys recent developments including the Global Compact on Migration, and the Task Force on Climate Displacement. This article argues that while current human rights law provides some protection, it is insufficient, and that the international community should take urgent action to design a legal regime to protect the rights of climate displacees. This is especially true of inhabitants of small island states who will be forced to move because their states are ‘disappearing’. The article argues that major emitters owe a legal duty to help climate displacees and especially the inhabitants of small island states.
In this article I show that the form of argument put forward by the climate change denial movement in the United States (US) closely resembles that used in Nazi Germany with regard to Nazi racial definitions. Each involves a rejection of scientific method. This rejection inherently lends itself to far-right politics, which is a philosophy of prejudice. The prevalence of such a philosophy in contemporary American political culture, exemplified through climate change denial, has arguably opened the door for a president of Trump's type. Nevertheless, the US Constitution is far more difficult to suspend than that of the Weimar Republic. As a result, US institutional safeguards against a philosophy of prejudice are likely to hold against a short-term assault on environmental justice in a way that the Weimar Republic's constitutional order did not against Nazism's assault on civil rights. The greater threat to environmental protection in the contemporary US situation is the slow erosion of democratic norms by the Trump administration.
M Joel Voss
Climate change is one of the defining problems of our time. The relationship between climate change and human rights is receiving increased attention by stakeholders, including the UN and its primary human rights body, the Human Rights Council. Discussions on the relationship between climate change and human rights are hotly contested. This article is concerned with how states advocate for or against climate change and human rights at the Council. Participant observation on climate change resolutions from 2006 to 2019 through the UN's webTV archives are used to illustrate how states frame climate change.
Although passed without a vote, significant contestation occurs over the content of each resolution. During explanations of the vote, Member States make some form of three claims – using one of three dominant framings. The first focuses on equity and development. The second frames the relationship between human rights and climate change: climate change is either constructed as a problem undermining human rights or as generating a responsibility for states to protect human rights when responding to it. The final argument's framing revolves around the mandate of the Council to discuss climate change as a human right. This article helps shed light on theories of norm contestation and on the strategies and frames used in advocating for the relationship between human rights and climate change and its construction – and significance – in the UN Human Rights Council.