Research event

'So this is permanence': The Inter-American Human Rights System as a liminal space for climate justice

A presentation by Juan Auz (Hertie School). This event is part of the Fundamental Rights Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.


This paper aims to appraise the normative potential of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) to respond to the threats posed to the enjoyment of human rights in the face of the climate crisis. In so doing, the paper uses the analogy of oscillation of international law to create a ‘mental map’ of different views of international human rights and environmental law (IHREL). These views are distributed within a spectrum that goes from utopian to apologist. The former contends that the emergence and application of IHREL encompass a legitimacy and functional deficit because of its colonial and liberal underpinnings and operation. According to these perspectives, the origins and the practice of IHREL impede tackling global challenges − such as the climate crisis − from an egalitarian and radical perspective. Contrariwise, the apologist vision responds to these critiques by referencing the historical victories of rights movements that tactically mobilised the law to change oppressive patterns. This paper will then offer a third strand of argumentation by using the IAHRS as a case study, framing it as an appropriate ‘space’ of political and legal contention that promises to address some of the shortcomings of IHREL. However, it asserts that the IAHRS still fails to meet some commentators’ imaginaries of idyllic climate justice scenarios. The paper is composed of three parts. Firstly, it will lay bare the most salient critiques and defences of IHREL. Secondly, it will frame IHREL institutions, not as monolithic interventions, but as located in a continuum, whereby the IAHRS occupy a liminal space therein. Thirdly, it will juxtapose the climate crisis context with the IAHRS’s normative edifice to make the case of its permanence as a liminal space.

This presentation is part of the Fundamental Rights Research Colloquium's cluster on 'Emerging Challenges to Fundamental Rights'.

Juan Auz is a PhD candidate at the Hertie School's Centre for Fundamental Rights in Berlin. Before this, he was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). His research lies at the junction of human rights and climate change law with a focus on Latin America. Juan has worked for several years in Ecuador on indigenous peoples' rights in Amazonia as the Co-Founder of Terra Mater and Executive Director of Fundación Pachamama. He holds an LL.B. from Universidad de las Americas in Quito and an LL.M. in Global Environmental Law from the University of Edinburgh. Juan is a member of CIVICUS, the IUCN’s World Commission on Environmental Law, the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment and the European Society of International Law (ESIL).

Prior registration is required. Registered attendees will receive the dial-in details as well as a draft paper, on which the presentation is based, via e-mail prior to the event.