The anthropocentric ontology of international environmental law and the sustainable development goals: towards an ecocentric rule of law in the anthropocene

French, Duncan and Kotze, Louis (2018) The anthropocentric ontology of international environmental law and the sustainable development goals: towards an ecocentric rule of law in the anthropocene. Global Journal of Comparative Law, 7 (1). pp. 5-36. ISSN 2211-9051

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Abstract

In this article we argue that the Anthropocene’s deepening socio-ecological crisis amplifies demands on, and exposes the deficiencies of, our ailing regulatory institutions, including that of international environmental law (IEL). Many of the perceived failures of IEL have been attributed to the anthropocentric, as opposed to the ecocentric, ontology of this body of law. As a result of its anthropocentric orientation and the resultant deficiencies, IEL is unable to halt the type of human behaviour that is causing the Anthropocene, while it exacerbates environmental destruction, gender and class
inequalities, growing inter- and intra-species hierarchies, human rights abuses, and socio-economic and ecological injustices. These are the same types of concerns that the recently proclaimed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out to address. The SDGs are, however, themselves anthropocentric; an unfortunate situation which reinforces the anthropocentrism of IEL and vice versa. Considering the anthropocentric genesis of IEL and the broader SDGs framework, this article sets out to argue that the anthropocentrism inherent in the ontological orientation of IEL and the SDGs risks exacerbating Anthropocene-like events, and a more ecocentric orientation for both is urgently required to enable a more ecocentric rule of law to better mediate the human-environment interface in the Anthropocene. Our point of departure is that respect for ecological limits is the only way in which humankind, acting as principal global agents of care, will be able to ensure a sustainable future for human and nonhuman constituents of the Earth community. Correspondingly, the rule of law must also come to reflect such imperatives.

Additional Information:Volume 7, Special Issue: Building an Inclusive Global Rule of Law for the Environment, 2018
Keywords:anthropocene, rule of law, Sustainable Development Goals, planetary boundaries
Subjects:M Law > M130 Public International Law
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Law School
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ID Code:29935
Deposited On:07 Dec 2017 16:28

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