Natural Jurisdiction: Shifting Boundaries from Exploitation to Connection

Essay for International Public Law Course, 2021. Preprint.

Abstract

The biodiversity crisis has been compared to a war that we are losing. International environmental laws are meant to protect but the combative language and actions around our relationship with nature remains. The Eurocentric legal grounding of nature as property is problematic as ecological systems do not abide by political boundaries. This article explores the historical western underpinnings of our relationship with nature and the current aspirations of sustainability. Steps towards change and the reconsideration of the legal standing of nature include the Earth Charter, the pending EU illegal deforestation law that challenges sovereignty over natural resources, the United Nations’ Harmony with Nature that highlights the growing rights of nature around the world, and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative as a wholistic, transboundary ecosystem approach. It follows that a more interconnected shift is needed with the provision of ecological limits as a form of natural jurisdiction.

Introduction

 “Humanity is waging a war with nature,” declared António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations in December of 2020.[1] Mr. Guterres’ strong choice of words warrant a closer look…


[1] António Guterres, ‘Secretary-General’s Address at Columbia University: “The State of the Planet”’ (2020) <https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2020-12-02/address-columbia-university-the-state-of-the-planet&gt; accessed 11 February 2021.

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