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The climate change turn in human rights

1 December @ 1:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Doreen Lustig (Tel Aviv University)
Chair:  Dr Devika Hovell (LSE)

In the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, the turn to litigation as a vehicle for addressing the climate crisis intensified dramatically.  The surge in litigation entailed a discursive turn – the framing of climate change arguments in human rights terms. Advocates of this turn frequently emphasized its strategic advantages. Yet, what may have commenced as a strategic move, introduced intriguing conceptual and normative challenges to the conventional scope and meaning of human rights. These challenges include, inter alia, conceptual changes such as the use of scientific numerical benchmarks as normative standards (from norms to numbers); the use of a state of emergency to protect human rights (rather than to constrain them); a shift of the temporal lens from the past to forward-looking responsibilities; an expansion of the territorial scope of human rights; a shift to joint and several responsibilities (discarding “the drop in the ocean” defence); a recognition of business corporations as duty bearers and the turn to rights of nature. This paper surveys these challenges and explores their subversive potential: do they disrupt the underlying logics of human rights, redefining their scope and meaning, or do they undermine and constrain the possibility of reimagining climate justice as an alternative normative lens in lieu of human rights?

Dr Doreen Lustig
Dr Doreen Lustig

Doreen Lustig is a tenured, Associate Professor at Tel Aviv University, Faculty of Law. She teaches and researches in the fields of international law, global governance, constitutional law and climate change. She earned her J.S.D and L.L.M from NYU Law School where she won the 2005 Hauser Research Scholar Fellowship and served as a former IILJ Scholar (Institute of International Law and Justice). She also holds an LL.B. degree (magna cum laude) and B.A degree in sociology and anthropology from Tel Aviv University. Prior to joining Tel Aviv University she clerked for The Honorable Eliezer Rivlin, Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel. She won the 2019 Zeltner Prize in the category of junior legal scholar. Lustig was the Chief Editor of the Tel Aviv U. Law Review and serves as Member of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of International Law.

This seminar is organised by the Public International Law Research Hub.


1 December
1:00 pm
Event Category:


Stephen Humphreys
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