Law of Nature? New Perspectives on Legal Action for the Environment

How can law be used in today's environmental struggles?

Photo: Vlad Tchompalov via Unsplash

Photo: Vlad Tchompalov via Unsplash

Welcome to the Arne Næss Chair 10th Anniversary Seminar.

With his famous 1972 essay, "Should Trees Have Standing?", the lawyer Christopher D. Stone opened a legal and philosophical debate about the legal rights of nature. For a long time, this discussion remained academic, but now, in the age of the Anthropocene, there has been an upsurge of environmental activism that takes the law (and the courts) as its main instrument.

Climate lawsuits are in process or underway in countries such as the Philippines, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Norway. In many of these cases, lawyers, NGOs, researchers, activists, and others claim that the state has broken its own Penal Code – and hence the rule of order – regarding the preservation of nature.

The theme of this interdisciplinary seminar is how law is now being used as a moral, political, and strategic tool in the fight for the rights of nature. Featuring talks from scholars of English/literature, science and technology studies, and human geography, we invite you to take part in the discussion about how law is – and can be – used in the environmental struggles of our day.



Registration and coffee


Welcome and introduction by organizers


Ursula K. Heise (UCLA) – The Legal Lives of Endangered Species


Coffee break


Synneva Geithus Laastad (UiO) – Nature as a Subject of Rights: A Discourse Analysis on Ecuador’s Constitutional Rights of Nature


Lunch break


Susan McHugh (UNE) – Animist Law? Indigenous Narratives of Human–Animal–Environmental Justice


Coffee break


Bård Lahn (CICERO) – In Search of a ‘Fixed Point’: The Role of Science in Climate Change Law and Politics


Summary by organizers

This seminar is part of the Arne Næss Anniversary Seminar.


Published Oct. 3, 2017 2:00 PM - Last modified Mar. 13, 2018 3:06 PM