The conceptual challenges of invasive alien species to non-human rights
  • 1 Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

This article aims to explore potential friction points that may arise with the emergence of new natural non-human rights holders (for instance, individual animals, rivers, Pacha Mama and so on). Specifically, the article relies on the case of invasive alien species (IAS) to highlight that animal rights can collide with rights of the environment. Indeed, IAS represent a serious environmental threat and are, as such, at the centre of numerous global, regional and national regulations that favour early eradication as the best course of action. However, in a rights paradigm, this collision amounts to a conflict between the right to life of individuals from IAS and the right to integrity of the threatened ecosystems. This article addresses how such conflicts might be solved by relying on an analogy with the lawful restrictions of human rights. It highlights how, even in a rights paradigm, eradicating individuals from IAS could remain legal, albeit more strictly controlled. It also points to the inevitable questions of representation that such situations entail. As the rights of natural non-humans clash, the issue becomes, in turn, a discussion among humans. This discussion requires legal frameworks and principles to be legitimate and accountable. This article seeks to describe some of these principles by relying on an analysis of current practices in different fields. In sum, the article argues that it is not inherently problematic to solve conflicts between natural non-human rights. However, the human discussion to solve this conflict has to be based on epistemic plurality to gain in legitimacy.

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