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Rights of Nature

Lampkin, Jack ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5104-8758 (2024) Rights of Nature. In: White, Rob, (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Environmental Crime. Edward Elgar (Submitted)

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There is a growing social movement advocating for the rights of nature and there is now a significant number of success stories where environmental rights have been enshrined into domestic legislation and the constitutions of sovereign nations. Such rights are an example of wild law, that is, laws that put the earth at the centre of law-making, rather than human wants and needs. Wild laws, though, are not always embodied by rights of nature. Other legislation, case law, or constitutional amendments that give priority to the natural world over the human world are considered to represent the philosophy of earth jurisprudence (rather than human jurisprudence). This chapter explains what is meant by the terms ‘rights of nature’, ‘wild law’, ‘earth jurisprudence’ and ‘ecocentrism’, summarising key debates in these areas, and offering ideas for the advancements of the academic study of wild law in the future.

The term Rights of Nature refers to both the legal and philosophical privileges of nature (that being ‘the environment’ in its broadest sense, inclusive of humans, non-humans, and natural ecosystems regardless of sentience). It also refers to a growing global socio-environmental movement towards protecting the natural world through the medium of environmental rights. Concurrently, Wild Laws are laws constructed by humans but according to the principles of the philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence. Ecocentrism refers to the valuing of nature for its own sake (White, 2024), valuing their interests as morally and philosophically important (Medlock and White, 2022). This Entry will define these terms, and explore their meaning, significance and development in the context of environmental harms and crimes.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Submitted
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/10014

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