In the last decade, judicial actions pursuing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures have exponentially increased. Among other reasons, this phenomenon is explained by the imminent threat of global warming and the civil society distrust in political response. In these circumstances, climate change litigation has become a powerful tool to achieve compliance with human rights and environmental obligations. However, climate change lawsuits face several obstacles. In particular, local judges may decide whether individuals, NGOs and state agencies have standing to sue when the interest of collective entities, such as the future generations and the nature, are at stake. Recent case law shows a major shift in the way that standing to sue is evaluated. This paper analyzes this role and the progressive protection of collective entities without legal personality as a legal response to the challenges posed by climate change.
The work aims to analyze two different aspects of Constitutional Law. On the one hand, the concession of legal personality to nature, in general, and to its elements, in particular, by part of the Colombian High Courts. On the other hand, the constitutional duty to protect the environment found in articles 8, 79, 80 and 95-8 of the Political Constitution Colombia of 1991, which has been extensively discussed by the Constitutional Court and that it falls on the entire State apparatus and all of the people. The analysis tries to demonstrate that the aforementioned concession is absolutely inadequate to protect the natural environment and its components and that, on the contrary, the aforementioned duty constitutes the legal entity to develop and promote the safeguarding of the environment and its elements.
In the paper I interrogate the key features of the legal person model adopted in each of the New Zealand, India and Colombian cases and explore the challenges posed by those features in the local context. I argue that, although there are obvious contextual differences, there are interesting commonalities in the recognition of rivers as legal persons across the three models, which might herald the emergence of a (loose) transnational concept of legal rights for rivers. Legal person models are typically presented as indicative of an ‘ecocentric’ tendency in the regulation of natural resources, in which nature is the subject rather than the object of rights. However, the New Zealand, India and Colombian cases are ‘culturally located’, in the sense that river rights are a consequence of the recognition of the (human) rights of indigenous and tribal peoples as river communities. The efficacy of rivers as persons will depend on strong institutions, governed by humans, to enforce river rights
In the last decade, we have witnessed how courts in different parts of the world, have ruled in favor of the protection of the nature. The most celebrated and so-called innovative decisions regarding these protections are those that have declared that nature is not a thing but a person with legal standing. In this paper, I focus on two of these rulings in Colombia to understand what are the possibilities of effectiveness of the judicial orders. The first one is the Atrato River ruling by the Constitutional Court; the second one, is the Supreme Court ruling on the Amazon. While both rulings have been recognized as the same type of decision in which nature is now a holder of rights, the mechanisms designed in the rulings to assure the effectiveness are radically different. According to collective action theories, I analyze how the way in which the litigation was structured and the recipients of the remedies ordered have an impact on the implementation of the rulings.
One of the Renaissance’s great contributions was to place humans at the center of the universe. Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is a graphical indication of this way of thinking. His drawing illustrates the spirit of an age that wanted to relocate the axis of the universe, no longer on a superior being, but on the symbol of an apollonian European white male as the center of everything. For the legal conceptualization of what a “person” is, the anthropocentric characteristic or that of the human being as the measure and center of all things would seem exclusive. In the “periphery” of the traditional centers of thought (India, New Zealand or Colombia), alternatives are being considered with a simple and powerful formula focused on remembering that everything is connected. My intervention in this panel will problematize the extension of certain “fundamental or human” rights to “things” which are not human.