Academic Papers

Green Legal Theory by Michael M’Gonigle

Green thinking has been established both in theory and practice in Europe for decades, far ahead of North America. Few on the western side of the Atlantic understand that “green” is much more than just progressive public policy. It is about a new social framework.

Right to the Commons by Femke Wijdekop

This LL.M paper discusses the potential for the introduction of a human right to commons- and rights-based ecological governance, as proposed by Professor Burns H. Weston and David Bollier in their book Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights and the Law of the Commons. Femke Wijdekop addresses the following questions: How can we construct a right to a healthy and clean environment that is enforceable in today’s complex international legal order? What legal construct would be visionary and ambitious enough to meet the urgent need for environmental justice and protection and at the same time be enforceable in court rather than fall into the category of ‘soft law”?

Taking Nature’s Rights Seriously: The Long Way to Biocentrism in Environmental Law by Susan Emmenegger and Axel Tschentscher, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Vol VI: Issue 3, Summer 1994)

This paper explores the questions – Do we have an obligation to preserve and restore nature? Are there moral rights of nature? Should we acknowledge legal rights of nature? The authors reach beyond the position proposed by some legal and philosophical scholars, that de lege ferenda (i.e. as a recommendable future state of the law), we should award natural entities their own rights. Instead, they argue that de lege lata, (i.e., as a matter of present law), the roots of the nature’s rights approach already exist in a number of international environmental instruments. Their main thesis is that international environmental instruments show a step by step development towards acknowledging nature’s rights in a biocentric perspective.

Ways Not to Think about Plastic Trees: New Foundations for Environmental Law, by Lawrence H. Tribe, (1974) 83 Yale L J 1315 at 1341. This essay was also published in When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision. Laurence Tribe, Corinne Schelling, and John Voss, eds. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1976. Tribe suggested that a perception that nature exists for itself should be given institutional expression and that a sense of human obligation towards the natural world should be developed.