The Power of Rights-Based Climate Change Litigation

My law review article exploring the influence and impact of rights-based climate change litigation has now been published in the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, and the full article can be downloaded from SSRN. The abstract is posted below:

An increasing number of legal challenges to government climate change policies are being advanced on the basis that states are violating the human rights or constitutional rights of applicants. A number of high-profile cases in Europe have upheld such claims and ordered governments to adjust their policies. But questions remain regarding how effective such rights-based cases may be in the effort to enforce climate change law obligations or encourage government responses to the crisis. This Article explores how such rights-based cases may exercise greater influence than is typically understood.

After explaining briefly the relevant human rights and climate change law, this Article examines in some detail a sample of rights-based climate cases that reflect a common pattern of features that provide the basis for such an explanation. The cases illustrate the incorporation of both international human rights law norms, and international climate change law obligations and standards, which are used to assess the legitimacy of government climate change policy. The courts increasingly rely upon the science of climate change institutions and the arguments and doctrines developed by foreign courts and international tribunals, including new doctrines for rejecting typical “drop in the ocean” causation and justiciability arguments traditionally relied upon to dismiss climate change cases.

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In the latest episode of JIB/JAB-The Laws of War Podcast, I have a cross-posted episode in which I am the guest of Jonathan Hafetz on his Law and Film Podcast to discuss the film Eye in the Sky. It is a 2015 film likely known to most JIB/JAB listeners, about a joint British and American drone strike against al-Shabaab terrorists in Kenya, and which intelligently and engagingly explores the legal, ethical, philosophical, political, and strategic issues raised by the operation. We not only examine the film’s treatment of the legal issues implicated, including whether IHL should apply at all, and how the principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, and precautions in attack are illustrated in the film, but we also explore the relationship between these principles and some of the ethical and strategic aspects of the decision-making in the film. We round out the conversation with a discussion of some other engaging films that similarly explore law in the context of armed conflict. I very much enjoyed the conversation!

JIB/JAB-The Laws of War Podcast Back On-Line

It was good to get JIB/JAB-The Laws of War Podcast back on-line after an almost 7 month hiatus! Started the new season with a fantastic new episode on the issues of sieges, the war crime of starvation, and the siege of Gaza, with Tom Dannenbaum of the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University. The podcast has now been listened to almost 44,000 times in over 120 countries, so it feels like it is worth continuing, notwithstanding how much work it is!

Speaking to the CBC on the Gaza Conflict

I was pleased that the media is reaching out to international law scholars to get explanations of the legal issues raised by the conflict in Gaza, and was happy to speak with the CBC’s Canada Tonight show on the topic despite how fraught the issues are, but I found it difficult to provide the necessary nuance or really explain the complexity of any of these issues in the short time provided. It is pity that there is not sufficient time to lay out the issues in a little more depth and sophistication. Some other media, such as Ali Velshi’s spot on MSNBC, have taken a little more time with experts to explain some of these issues more fully. It is important for the public to understand these issues better.