Creating Synergies between International Law and the Rights of Nature

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Against the backdrop of failing environmental governance, rights of nature (RoN) are increasingly lauded as the paradigm shift needed to transform law’s approach to nature. RoN have been increasingly proclaimed domestically but remain mostly absent from international law. As examined in this article, this is notably due to some profound incompatibilities between international law and RoN, including the fact that most international treaties approach nature as resource to be owned, exploited or protected for the sake of humans. However, despite this dominant approach to nature, some areas of international law, notably under the leadership of Indigenous peoples, are starting to acknowledge a more relational approach to nature, putting forward concepts of care, kinship and representation of nature in international law. Building on these developments, this article offers a reflection on potential synergies between RoN and international law, specifically by changing the latter’s approach to nature. It argues that some of the RoN concepts concerning duty of care, institutional representation of nature’s voice, and ecocentricism could serve as a platform to re-interpret some of the anthropocentric principles of international law, creating some potential synergies between RoN and international law.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransnational Environmental Law
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023


  • rights of nature
  • international law
  • Biodiversity
  • justice

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