Environmental Democracy and Human Rights in Times of Political and Economic Crisis in Brazil

The current Brazilian Constitution highlighted the democratic principle, including instruments of popular participation, also in matters related to the environment. The balanced environment was elevated to a collective right with the inclusion of sustainable public policies, combining the economic, social and ecological conception to the development. However, amid the political and economic crisis that plagued Brazil during President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment process in 2016, there were government issues that hit specific sectors of the country, as in the case of the environment. Since then, the new governments have made changes in public policies under the justification of political pressure and reduced spending.
Thus, the present paper will address the importance of environmental democratic order, making the environmental achievements remain, as well as new achievements are achieved in favor of society and in honor of human rights.

Civil Rights, Political Representation and Environment: The regressive effect of the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

Recently, the Constitutional Court of Colombia has taken a more restrictive approach in relation to the rights it concedes to the people under its jurisdiction. A regressive tendency has gained strength inside the Court, that is taking a second look to topics which have been settled long time ago. The right to self-determination of the people has suffered the most in this context, as well as the legal protection of the environment. People in the regions of Colombia have lost their saying when it comes to definition of the future of their closest environment, rulings such as those related to the popular consultation have striped the citizens of towns, where mineral extractions are planned, off their right to participate in the public sphere. By limiting this form of referendum the Court has not only restricted the political rights of these people, but has also deprived them of the right to democratically resist projects that can incide negatively in the satisfaction of their rights.

God in Indonesia’s Environmental Constitutionalism: An Untapped Resource in Times of (Climate) Change?

Indonesia, an archipelagic nation-state, faces multiple environmental challenges, including climate change. In the search for solutions in public law, the significance of religion in Indonesian constitutional jurisprudence and politics led to the realisation that constitutional arguments can be made on the basis of religion to enforce environmental rights and duties – a phenomenon already observed in other Muslim-majority countries. This paper thus proposes the crafting of (1) practicable arguments based on the right to religious freedom and a ‘religious values’ exception to the exercise of constitutional rights under the Indonesian Constitution, and (2) a normative argument of an ‘eco-theology’ presumption in Indonesian constitutionalism. Thereafter, the paper evaluates these arguments’ plausibility in light of existing (and comprehensive) legal frameworks, complex realities surrounding religion-state relations, and the praxis of Islamic environmental law in Indonesia.

Environmental Law Enforcement in the US and Chile: A Comparative and Functional Review

This work reviews two environmental enforcement systems, the Chilean and the American, from a comparative-functional perspective. After reviewing hundreds of cases, the study revealed that in Chile there are important deficiencies at the policy level, which are then reflected in the result of particular cases. On the other hand, the American enforcement system shows no deficiencies at the policy level, but when it comes to practice, it is not possible to discern if policies are actually–and correctly–applied in particular cases. This is relevant because any fair reading of the major US environmental statutes suggests that penalties should incorporate explicit assessments of the respective penalty factors. This raises rule of law and transparency concerns. At the end, by way of conclusion, it is suggested that both the Chilean and the US environmental enforcement systems would be better if they adopted specific strengths of the other.

Post-development Paradigms from a Constitutional Top-down Approach: An Outline on Some Relevant Environmental Experiences in Asia and Africa

Environmental issues are pervasive challenges for the international community, involving scientific, as well as political and legal aspects. Several studies explored the attitude of the environmental protection to be a phenomenon at the confluence of constitutional law, international law and human rights. In one hand, this global trend try somehow to reconcile the North-South divide, on the other, it amalgamates the autochthonous legal traditions, trying to find universal and ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions. This approach produces an essential question in ‘Times of Change’: what is the role of constitutions in the ‘Anthropocene’ era? This paper intends to highlight and analyse constitutional law patterns for the protection of the environment, exploring the constitutional systems of the UN Member States in a top-down and holistic approach. The analysis will focus on the concept of ‘environment’ as set in the examined constitutions, in particular in African and Asian legal systems.

Access to international courts and tribunals in environmental disputes: towards public interest litigation?

This paper focuses on the requirements attached to the entry into international litigation and their impact on environmental litigation. It responds the questions ‘who can bring a claim, and will any international tribunal accept it?’. The paper explores the potential transformation of interstate dispute settlement from being exclusively bilateral towards a procedure allowing public interests to be defended, in the enforcement of international environmental law. It aims at refuting the hasty assertion that international courts and tribunals have too narrow rules on standing to respond to environmental disputes. Therefore, in this paper I will analyse the notion of public interest in international law, its stakeholders and its legal implications for international adjudication in order to clarify the developments made by the judicial institutions and their impacts on environmental litigation.