Moving Towards the Adoption of Ecocentric Perspectives by International Courts and Tribunals

James Kunz

Jamie's research considers whether environmental objectives would be better served if international courts and tribunals moved further towards an ecocentric perspective in their jurisprudence and procedures.
Undue focus has been placed on anthropocentric imperatives when constructing mechanisms to address environmental issues. This trait has been prevalent throughout the modern development of international environmental law; it can be traced back to the 1972 Stockholm Convention on the Human Environment and was reaffirmed in the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development. More effective outcomes could potentially be achieved if the environment were to be dealt with on the basis of its own intrinsic value. This would represent a conscious move away from viewing the environment merely as a resource.
International courts and tribunals have interpreted principles of environmental law in such a way that environmental protection and ecological sustainability objectives often lose out to competing social and economic factors. This is aptly demonstrated in the concept of sustainable development and the judicial approach (as seen in the cases of Gabcikovo-Nagymaros and Pulp Mills, amongst others) towards it.
Jamie's project considers anthropocentrism and ecological approaches in international law, and the role of international courts and tribunals in interpreting and developing the law.

Photo:  Yeu NInje