The Marriage of Human Rights and the Environment: From Mutual Convenience to Irreconcilable Differences

Photo credit: gideon_wright / Foter / CC BY
Event Date
16:00 to 18:30, Birley Room, Hatfield College, Durham University
From climate change to the mass extinction of species, from desertification to deforestation, when faced with global environmental challenges the international community has been unable to cooperate effectively towards stemming harm.
While barriers to cooperation are manifold, they can be broadly characterized as falling into two categories: first, an unwillingness to address issues of environmental inequity and injustice between and within countries; and second, an inability to imagine alternatives to current patterns of economic development. In the face of these two daunting problems, can the discourse of human rights assist in bridging the discord, or is it part of the problem? Although the human rights framework brings out the inequities inherent in both the causes and impacts of environmental degradation, it risks perpetuating a flawed development model that is the root of the problem.
Usha Natarajan (PhD, MA, LLB, BA) is assistant professor of international law at the American University in Cairo. Her research is multidisciplinary, utilizing third world and postcolonial approaches to international law to provide an interrelated understanding of the relationship between international law and issues of development, environment, migration and conflict. Her recent research has focused on the environment and publications include ‘Locating Nature: Making and Unmaking International Law’ (2014, with K Khoday) and ‘TWAIL and the Environment’ (2012). Prior to joining the AUC, she worked with various international organizations including UNDP, UNESCO and the World Bank on law reform initiatives in Asia.

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