The Anthropocene, Earth System Vulnerability and Socio-ecological Injustice in an Age of Human Rights

Kotze, Louis (2019) The Anthropocene, Earth System Vulnerability and Socio-ecological Injustice in an Age of Human Rights. Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, 10 (1). pp. 62-85. ISSN 1759-7188

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.4337/jhre.2019.01.04

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Abstract

Despite important victories, human rights have been unable to respond effectively to the many deeply intertwined socio-ecological injustices in the Anthropocene. In particular, human rights have failed to practically address, in a meaningful way, the plights of billions of oppressed human beings (and failed to address the vulnerability of non-human beings), while conceptually human rights are proving to be ill suited for the epistemic demands of the Anthropocene. As a trope, the Anthropocene presents an opportunity to re-interrogate the role of human rights as key mechanisms in the state’s regulatory mix to address socio-ecological injustices arising within the context of a vulnerable Earth system. This article reflects upon whether a re-interrogation could be accomplished by utilising vulnerability theory, which is an alternative approach to ethical evaluation. As a heuristic, vulnerability has the potential to inform an ontological change of stance away from a human-centred, neo-liberal, and impregnably Western understanding of human rights, towards an altogether more porous and contingent understanding of the vulnerability of the entire living order as a starting point from which to critique the epistemological closures and regulatory challenges confronting the human rights paradigm in the Anthropocene.

Keywords:Anthropocene, Human Rights, Vulnerability
Subjects:M Law > M100 Law by area
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Law School
ID Code:34488
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 15:11

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