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Accepted Paper:

In the name of nature? Exploring the prospects for nature to gain a locus standi in African courts  
Veronica Federico (University of Florence)

Paper short abstract:

Against the increasing number of African court rulings enforcing the rights of nature, the paper discusses the courts’ reluctance to recognize that nature may be legitimate to stand in courts, by exploring courts’ reasonings, and the related legal debate, in a selection of African legal systems

Paper long abstract:

Framed in the global movement to confer rights onto nature and/or natural objects, the paper analyses African domestic courts’ attitude towards legitimizing nature to stand in judgment per sé and its eventual implications for the creation and consolidation of new, ecocentric, legal paradigms in environment justice on the one hand, and, on the other, it opens the discussion on the role of courts in crafting those new ecocentric paradigms.

In the history of the law, the progressive enlargement of those entitled to have rights firstly, and to stand in judgment to vindicate those rights, secondly, has never been smooth. Neither it is for nature.

Some African courts have a tradition of giving broad interpretation to the question of standing; some by adopting the actio popularis and public interest doctrine, others by enlarging the notion of sufficient interest to act. Whether such broadness shall encompass also the nature still is to be determined.

The existence of both individual environmental rights and of an environmental public interest is out of question, at least de jure. Whether those rights are people’s rights or nature’s rights remains, on the contrary, rather contested. Therefore, the discussion of the recognition and/or the refusal of recognition of the locus standi to nature before African courts is an interesting prism through which enquiring into the creation of new ecocentric legal paradigms in African public law.

Panel Law03
Environmental and climate rights in Africa: what happens when courts have a say
  Session 2 Friday 2 June, 2023, -