Climate JusticeSymposium

Judging climate change obligations: Can the World Court rise to the occasion?

Part I: Primary obligations to combat climate change

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic piles crisis atop crisis. As confirmed infection rates cross 2.5 million and attributed deaths pass 170,000 (at time of writing, in April 2020), it is increasingly being accepted that biodiversity loss has reduced the resilience of natural systems when faced with the emergence of new diseases. At the same time, ever closer contact between humans and animals (through intensive farming, habitat encroachment and other factors) has increased …

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Climate JusticeSymposium

Pursuing climate justice through public interest litigation: the Urgenda case

This blog post critically examines the contribution of public interest litigation to the global fight for climate justice. I consider the Urgenda case, which culminated in the Netherlands’ Supreme Court ruling of 20 December 2019, as an excellent example. Urgenda is a foundation, established under Dutch law, which claims to protect the public interest all of us have in a more sustainable society. It persuaded the Court to order the …

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Climate JusticeSymposium

Global South climate litigation versus climate justice: duty of international cooperation as a remedy?

Imagine for a moment that you are a Bolivian small farmer whose livelihood depends on the continuing flow of a river to water your crops. Now, due to climate change, glaciers that used to feed local rivers are retreating, leading to a substantial reduction in water availability. After a couple of years, you see in the local newspaper that a fellow citizen, a concerned industrial farmer, won a constitutional lawsuit …

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Climate JusticeSymposium

‘Staying with the trouble’

Sensing climate change in the Anthropocene

Among the issues raised in the call for contributions to the symposium on ‘Climate Justice – International Law in an Age of Catastrophe’, we find the question whether ‘international law as we know it [is] able at all to deliver solutions to the climate crisis, or [whether] is it part of the problem’. ‘In other words’, the call for contributions proceeds, ‘the question is whether the current crisis can be …

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Climate JusticeSymposium

International law in an age of catastrophe

Introducing our climate justice symposium

The symposium on climate justice is starting on the blog today, and it appears both a most urgent and a curious moment for it. Last year, the climate crisis finally entered broader public debate. Young people around the globe protesting for much needed climate action succeeded in putting the topic on the agenda, and the attention it received in the media grew exponentially. Earlier this year, when we published our call …

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SymposiumYoung Approaches to International Law

Enter the youth, a protagonist behind the scenes

The 1992 Rio Declaration suggested that young people would soon become protagonists in international law-making. Accordingly, it should be no surprise that the youth has become louder and louder in voicing its concerns. Yet, scholars appear not to have acknowledged that change. For while international law becomes more humanised, international bodies jettison their ‘states-only’ requirement, and climate change haunts future generations – commentators keep postponing the theorisation of young people’s …

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Current Developments

Land ahoy? Solutions for Statehood in a post climate change world

Climate change is expected to cause receding coastlines due to rising sea levels. Geological formations like islands, rocks, reefs and other low-tide elevations would be permanently submerged, and this would affect the control of States over the sea if the baseline measurement changed with them. In fact, some low-lying States could conceivably lose their rights to exploit their territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) due to their land territory …

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Call for ContributionsClimate JusticeSymposium

International law in an age of catastrophe

Call for Contributions for a symposium on Climate Justice

We live in an age of catastrophe. This is not alarmism. Rather, denying this would mean disregarding all scientific evidence we have. At the beginning of this new decade, Australia is literally on fire and Indonesia under water. 2019 has marked the year in which the climate crisis has finally entered broader public debate, with protesters around the globe demanding that governments take the threat seriously and significantly increase the …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

A significant opening

On the HRC’s groundbreaking first ruling in the case of a ‘climate refugee’

The Human Rights Committee (HRC) has just added to the many important international legal developments of the young decade and issued its first ruling on the case of a “climate refugee”, i.e. a person fleeing their home country because of the effects of climate change. This post analyses the groundbreaking ruling which increases the pressure on states to take action against climate change and explains its significance (see the full …

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Interview

Whose rights? Whose justice? (Second part)

An interview with Marta Torre‑Schaub on climate liability and climate justice

Völkerrechtsblog is pleased to present the second part of the interview with Marta Torre‑Schaub. In this section, we will discuss the status of the Amazonian forest in international law, the importance of national litigation for climate protection and questions of climate justice for the most vulnerable states and groups. This completes the picture of legal liability under international law for environmental damage in the field of climate change. Given the vulnerable …

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