Earth Law / Rights of Nature

My current book project analyzes the global diffusion of Earth law, including legal provisions that recognize rights of nature, and their role in changing global norms and policy debates regarding how to practice sustainable development and address climate change. The book and related articles examine the global Rights of Nature movement and its effort to incorporate rights of nature into laws and institutions at both the domestic and international levels. Because rights of nature is rooted in indigenous, non-Western understandings of humans’ relationship with nature, my research explores the challenge of translating indigenous views into Western legal systems. Theoretically, my work addresses how global norms emerge and change, and provides an alternative to explanations rooted in Western, neoliberal norms like human rights and sovereignty. Empirically, I am analyzing the politics surrounding the development of Earth law/rights of nature provisions in Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, and the U.S., as well as efforts to incorporate rights of nature into international law and institutions. Due to the large size of the project, I am collaborating with Pamela Martin of Coastal Carolina University.

In December 2015, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 70/208, which called for the development of Earth Jurisprudence (Earth Law) as part of a post-2015 sustainable development agenda dedicated to living in harmony with nature. As a member of the United Nations Knowledge Network on Harmony with Nature, I participate in annual dialogues and provide recommendations based on the results of my research on implementing rights of nature legislation (Earth Jurisprudence) and related norms. Read the 2016 report or access previous reports and other information about the UN initiative here.

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