Exploring Legal Frontiers in Environmental Protection

As the world’s attention continues to turn to the climate change crisis, innovative legal methods of environmental protection are beginning to emerge in response. This episode of Pro Bono Radio, hosted by Queen’s Law student Maeve McNaughton, focuses on two developing methods: environmental personhood and ecocide.

Environmental personhood, which grants legal rights to environmental structures, is being seen with increasing frequency in Canada and countries around the world. Meanwhile, the widespread destruction of ecosystems, dubbed “ecocide,” is proposed as the fifth international crime to be recognized by the ICC. Both of these methods of legally enforcing environmental protection have their pros and cons.

Professor Darryl Robinson has published work examining the proposed crime of ecocide and the possible difficulties of its implementation. He is a member of Stop Ecocide International and took part in UCLA’s Promise Institute project to create a proposed definition for ecocide. Professor Robinson joins us to discuss these methods and his research on protecting the environment through international and domestic law.

Maeve McNaughton- Producer, Host, Editor

Music: Music track: Option by Aylex
Source: https://freetouse.com/music

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

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Research Referred to in the Podcast:

Heller, Kevin Jon. “Skeptical thoughts on the proposed crime of ‘Ecocide’ (that isn’t)”, (28 June 2021), online: Opinio Juris <https://opiniojuris.org/2021/06/23/skeptical-thoughts-on-the-proposed-crime-of-ecocide-that-isnt/>.

Gordon, G. J. (2019). Environmental Personhood. Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, 43(1). https://doi.org/10.7916/cjel.v43i1.3742

Darryl Robinson, Ecocide — Puzzles and Possibilities, Journal of International Criminal Justice, Volume 20, Issue 2, May 2022, Pages 313–347, https://doi.org/10.1093/jicj/mqac021

Robinson, Darryl. “Your guide to ecocide: Part 1”, (21 July 2021), online: Opinio Juris <http://opiniojuris.org/2021/07/16/your-guide-to-ecocide-part-1/>.  

“First Nations Quebec-Labrador resolution declaring legal personhood of the St. Lawrence River”, (2 December 2023), online: Eco Jurisprudence Monitor <https://ecojurisprudence.org/initiatives/first-nations-resolution-recognizing-the-rights-of-the-st-lawrence-river/>.

“Quebec River granted legal rights as part of Global ‘personhood’ movement | CBC News”, (28 February 2021), online: CBCnews <https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/magpie-river-quebec-canada-personhood-1.5931067>.

Government of Canada, Department of Justice. “The United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples”, (21 June 2023), online: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007<https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/declaration/decl_doc.html>.

“Legal definition and commentary 2021”, online: Ecocide Law <https://ecocidelaw.com/legal-definition-and-commentary-2021/>.

Environmental crimes: Deal on new offences and reinforced sanctions: News: European parliament. Environmental crimes: deal on new offences and reinforced sanctions | News | European Parliament. (n.d.). https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20230929IPR06108/environmental-crimes-deal-on-new-offences-and-reinforced-sanctions

Times, T. B. (n.d.). Belgium becomes first in EU to recognise ecocide as international crime. The Brussels Times. https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/937229/belgium-becomes-first-in-eu-to-recognise-ecocide-as-international-crime-tbtb