The Rights of Nature grant ecosystems the right to legal personhood and the right to legal representation by a guardian. The right to legal personhood entitles ecosystems to defend themselves in court against any human-induced or nature-induced destruction or degradation.

Rights of Nature activists have utilized various avenues within the justice system and legal remedies to further develop this concept. These avenues include constitutional and statutory provisions, judicial review, and green activism, including indigenous movements.

The doctrine of Rights of Nature is gaining momentum across the legal world. A series of cases were filed as legal experiments Some were successful, while others failed.

A careful analysis of the reasons for failure or success notes that the lack of scientific establishment of the legal personhood largely contributes to making fruitless claims under the Rights of Nature. Therefore, basic sciences and its data play a vital role in proving the logical sequence of facts when proving a case on Rights of Nature.

The absence of evidence to prove the link between the damage and the main causes is one of the key defensive arguments against the Rights of Nature. Another defence against Rights of Nature is the notion that nature cannot embrace rights and responsibilities equally. In many jurisdictions where the Rights of Nature claims have succeeded, reliance on scientific data and findings has been substantial. Therefore, legal arguments seeking justice for nature need to be supported with well-established scientific data.

Presentation by Kokila Konasinghe, Department of Public and International Law, Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

12:30 UTC, 5 June 2023

Watch on Youtube

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