Human Rights in the Anthropocene – Towards a ‘Research-Advocacy’ Network

Roundtable organized by Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and the Earth System Governance Project with Prof. Walter F. Baber

17-18 October 2019, Lund, Sweden

Context

Like most other progressive causes, human rights and environmental protection are critically dependent on supportive legal opportunity structures.  As conventionally understood, these structures consist of access to the courts (which may be especially affected by the law on standing or locus standi, and costs rules); ‘legal stock’ or the set of available standards and precedents on which to base litigation; and institutional receptiveness to potential litigation.  What is less commonly appreciated is that none of these elements is a given.  They all depend on a variety of social, political, and economic variables – many of which are ”strategic” variables, in the sense that they are susceptible to deliberate manipulation by those knowledgable enough to do so.

Aims

Investigating the path of research-driven advocacy designed to improve the legal opportunity structures for environmental human rights is the central objective of this project. Thus the ultimate objective is to build academic-embedded systems of ‘network advocacy’ for environmental rights at the regional, national, and sub-national levels.  These networks, centered on a core group of academicians in each country or region of action, will include civil society representatives, industrial organizations, and regulatory actors.  Each network will be driven primarily by an interdisciplinary research program designed to generate place-based environmental rights information particular to each locale.

The project consists of three phases. Phase One is an experts’ roundtable to be held in Lund in October 2019. Phase Two of the project is about convening a Scientific Committee consisting of ten to fifteen persons, drawn primarily from the Lund participants, tasked with developing a scientific plan for this advocacy research.  Phase Three will consist of the establishment of “first-generation” advocacy networks in selected nations or regions, coordinated by field offices of RWI in cooperation with willing members of the scientific committee.

The Lund Roundtable

The expert roundtable is a two-day event in Lund, Sweden hosted by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Earth System Governance Project. In line with the roundtable format participants are not expected to make presentations or submit fully developed papers. They are encouraged to formulate preliminary thoughts before the roundtable and actively engage in sharing relevant experiences and insights (including sharing relevant materials to be circulated in advance, if they desire). The roundtable will detail the current state of knowledge, the strategically critical questions that remain to be answered, and the institutional initiatives required to develop those answers. The concrete results of the roundtable will be recommendations for a plan of action research and participants will also be invited to submit subsequent papers for possible inclusion in an edited volume.

Themes of the conference include:

  • The Greening of Human Rights (opportunities for environmental narratives to improve human rights advocacy);
  • The Humanizing of Environmental Protection (opportunities for human rights narratives to advance the cause of environmental protection);
  • Rights Advocacy, Environmental Governance, and Policy Innovation
  • Human Rights and the Environment: Paths of Integration and Impact
  • Human Rights and the Environment: Methodology and Vision for a Sustainable Future
  • Climate and Human Rights: The ‘Hard Case’ for a Human Rights Approach to the Environment?

 

Keynotes & Participants

The Lund Roundtable on Human Rights in the Anthropocene is chaired by Prof. Walter F. Baber (University of California, Long Beach, and 2017/18 Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Public International Law, Lund University).

Prof. John Knox, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, will deliver a keynote address.

We welcome expressions of interest in attending the Lund Roundtable at ipo@earthsystemgovernance.org. Given that the roundtable is intended as the start of a longer research and advocacy effort, preference will be given to researchers with a demonstrable interest in the issue and an ambitions to actively engage in the efforts also after the roundtable. Please do contact us as well if you can not attend the meeting in Lund but would like to stay informed about and get engaged in the project at a later stage.