Narcissus’ reflection in the lake: Untold narratives in environmental law beyond the anthropocentric frame

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The ‘environment’ is a substantively indeterminate concept that has borne different meanings throughout time and translated different visions of the (legal) relationship between Man and Nature. Over the past centuries, the normative concern for environmental protection emanated from distinct legal, cultural and socio-economic narratives. In providing a genealogy of these multiple and overlapping frames, this article not only sharpens our historical understanding of the legal nexus between two proliferating regimes in international law (environmental law and human rights law), but also critically engages with how environmental protection was progressively translated as an anthropocentric conceptual and operational legal framework. Like Narcissus, humans have been obnibulated by their own interests when thinking about environmental protection. The anthropocentric focus has led environmental law to gradually align and intertwine with human rights, resulting in a synergistic conceptualization of their interactions. Through this prism, environmental protection automatically reinforces human rights. This synergistic mantra has allowed environmental protection to gain momentum by associating it with a grander moral scheme. The focus on synergies, however, overshadowed the existence of conflicts inherent to the relationship between environmental protection and human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-259
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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