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"RIGHTS OF NATURE : Opening the Academic Debate in the European Legal Context", IEJUC conference

from October 14, 2019 to October 15, 2019

Auditorium MS001, Manufacture des tabacs,
21 allées de Brienne, 31000 Toulouse (France)
Metro & Airport bus station : Compans Caffarelli

Presented by the Toulouse Capitole University (IEJUC) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences with the support of the "Société française pour le droit de l'environnement, section Midi-Pyrénées" (SFDE).

  • Participants : Jan Darpo, John Knox, Delphine Misonne, Pierre Brunet, Gonzalo Sozzo, Guillaume Chapron, Karen Bradshaw, Olivier Clerc, Loïc Peyen, Matthieu Poumarède, Yaffa Epstein, Michel Prieur, Alexandre Zabalza, Marie Eude, Joël Andriantsimbazovina, Hendrik Schoukens.

The idea of attributing a legal personality to nature, and more broadly of recognizing its "rights", has increasingly being mentioned in the public debate. This idea is however not new and was first introduced in 1972 by a Professor of law in California, Christopher Stone, in a famous article provocatively entitled "Should trees have standing?". Although a judge at the US Supreme Court mentioned the idea in a dissenting opinion, it never came to be seriously considered in lawmaking. It is in the beginning of the 21st century that the idea finally entered positive law, first in the Constitution of Ecuador in 2008, then in Bolivia in 2010 and subsequently in some other countries (e.g. Colombia, India, New Zealand).

The idea of recognizing rights to nature has long seemed purposeless in the light of the European legal tradition. Nature was always supposed to be an object, not a subject, and enjoys a legal protection only through standards imposing human obligations regarding its use or non-use. For example, Member States of the EU have adopted high environmental standards in various treaties, directives or regulations and ratified the Aarhus Convention, thereby broadening access to environmental justice. Nevertheless, since the resurgence of the idea of rights of nature and considering that existing environmental laws do not appear to halt the unfolding ecological crisis, more voices are asking Western countries to recognize nature as a subject of law, including in the EU.

It is therefore very timely to revisit the debate of whether nature can have legal rights. For some, rights of nature are a highly relevant approach to improve the legal protection of the environment, while for others, this initiative is a false hope unlikely to deliver any positive outcomes for the environment. The conference “RIGHTS OF NATURE: Opening the Academic Debate in the European Legal Context” aims to provide a forum to discuss this proposed change of legal paradigm in the European legal context.


Academics: 150 euros
UT1 staff : free
Professionnals: 200 euros
Auditors: 150 euros
Students: free
Members of the Société française pour le droit de l’environnement : 50 euros

Updated on September 11, 2019