The Commons and the Collective
International law has evolved over the course of the twentiethcentury to protect human rights. But what are human rights? Does theterm have the same meaning in a world being transformed by globalwarming and the effects of globalized trade? Are existing lawssufficient to ensure humanity’s survival?
Drawing on case law and practice and examples from philosophy, law,and ecology, Laura Westra argues that the current system is notadequate: international law privileges individual over collectiverights, permitting multinational corporations to overlook thecollectivity and the environment in their quest for wealth and power.Unless policy makers redefine human rights and reformulateenvironmental law and policies to protect the preconditions for lifeitself -- water, food, clean air, and biodiversity -- humankind,particularly indigenous peoples and local communities in the developingworld, will face the complete loss of the ecological commons, thepreservation of which is one of our most basic human rights.
Westra not only assesses the limitations of law, she also proposespossible paths to an ecologically safer future, including a new kind ofcosmopolitanism, one that has the United Nations as a focal point for anew international legal order.
This book will appeal to students and scholars of law, the environment,
and political philosophy and anyone interested in human rights and
A key feature of this book is that it deals with both moral and legal arguments. It also draws on Greek philosophy. This reflects the author’s strength as a scholar of both philosophy and law. There are few authors in the environmental and international law fields that can bring this breadth of material and thought to bear on such a critical subject.
This book raises critical issues that have largely been ignored or deliberately repressed in mainstream debates concerning the dynamics of global ecological and geopolitical change.
Foreword / William E. Rees
Part 1: Basic Collective Rights for Law and Morality -- TheTheory
1 Individual Rights and Collective Rights in Conflict: TheEcocentric Perspective and the Commons
2 The Common Good and the Public Interest: Jus Cogens Norms and ErgaOmnes Obligations in a Lawless World
3 Communities and Collectives: The Interface
Part 2: Collective Rights, Globalization, and Democracy --The Practice
4 Collective Basic Rights Today
5 Globalization, Democracy, and Collective Rights
6 Cosmopolitanism, the Moral Community, and Collective HumanRights
Part 3: Toward a New Cosmopolitanism
7 World Law or International Legal Instruments? Toward theProtection of Basic Collective Human Rights
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