Law and politics of the human/nature: Exploring the foundations and institutions of the ‘rights of nature’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the law and politics of the rights of nature, tracing the global process whereby ideals embraced by social movements travel through different continents. The chapter begins with the Ecuadorian and Bolivian experiences, where the rights of nature are part of a comprehensive approach that sustains the whole environmental system. It then considers narrower legislative developments in New Zealand and jurisprudence in Colombia and India endowing legal personhood to specific natural entities. That is to say, nature as a subject of rights may include the whole system of life, only specific entities such as rivers or forests, entitlement to represent nature before courts, the establishment of protected areas and so on. This chapter explores the history, theory and policy implications of the differential construction of such rights through dividing their development into four waves with differing epistemological and political rationalities. In so doing, this chapter unveils the tensions and contradictions inherent to the inclusion of the rights of nature within Western legality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLocating nature
Subtitle of host publicationMaking and unmaking international law
EditorsUsha Natarajan, Julia Dehm
Place of Publication978-1-108-66728-9
PublisherCambridge University Press
StatePublished - 2022


  • Rights of nature
  • Indigenous rights
  • Political ecology
  • Critical legal studies
  • Legal personhood


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