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July 13, 2018

Law Firm Report Analyses Global Rights of Nature Cases

We would like to share with you a recent legal report, which the Scottish law firm, Living Law, launched on 11th July 2018 on the topic of Nature Rights. 

The report is entitled Giving Nature a Voice: Legal Rights and personhood for Nature – an analysis of progressive legal developments in other jurisdictions where Nature Rights have been recognised in national constitutions, other domestic laws and litigation proceedings”.

The report aims to provide a comparative legal analysis of Nature Rights in five different legal jurisdictions which it studied – namely, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, New Zealand and India – where legal rights of Nature have been recognised to differing extents in recent years. In particular, the report aims to provide some insights into the most recent ground-breaking judgments and legislative developments in this space and to make those more broadly accessible.

Building an awareness also of emerging developments at an international level, including through the instrumental work of the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, the report also aims to illustrate the ways in which appropriately designed Nature Rights may also assist Governments in fulfilling pre-existing Human Rights obligations. Thereby, helping to further weave Human Rights and Nature Rights in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Living Law’s Managing Partner and founder, Susan D. Shaw, commented “The report has been prepared particularly with the current Brexit climate in mind, in the hope that it might help to catalyse debate, discussion and vision on a topic which is gaining increasing traction globally, to support a better balance between people and the natural world. However, it is also being shared with wider networks, given the global perspectives it draws attention to.”

Once seen as perhaps too radical or revolutionary, the report aims in particular to illustrate the balancing role that appropriately framed Nature Rights might play and their possibility to become quickly mainstream in forward-looking legislative and policy discourses, as well as in court procedures.

The report does not intend at this early stage to provide a definitive end point or a suggested ‘blue print’ to operationalise Nature Rights. The authors conveyed that they are sure that there are a number of opportunities for this to be built on in a future version of the report, given the limited resources with which it has been prepared. However, given recent case developments, such as the recent Ineos Fracking case in Scotland, they believe that it is clear why increasingly scholars are again asking the question:

“Why should corporations be able to invoke their ‘Human Rights’ before courts without a balancing Right of and for Nature in its own right?” 

The associated short blog and copy of the Report itself can be accessed from Living Law’s website via the above links and via Living Law’s twitter feed.

Living Law has told ELGA that it would appreciate your support in raising the profile of this thinking. With that in mind, please feel free to share and pass the report on to contacts in your networks, who you think may be interested in this issue, including those who may want to participate in any future discussions related thereto.

Living Law also invites further specific comments and detailed feedback which can then be built into a future version of the report.  

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