Title

Relational Law: Re-imagining Tools for Environmental and Climate Justice

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2019

Keywords

Environmental and Climate Justice

Abstract

Extractive industry operations are associated with environmental and climate injustice on local and global scales and frequently intertwined with violations of the human rights of women and girls. In this article, I draw upon diverse approaches to legal analysis, including the work of ecological vulnerability and Indigenous feminist theorists, to argue that one key piece of the puzzle as we seek environmental, climate, and gender justice in the context of extractive industry harms is to re-imagine constructs and legal tools through a relational lens. Diverse relational approaches to legal analysis share a desire to shine the spotlight away from the bounded autonomous individual of liberal thought and towards interdependent relationships existing among people and the material world, including relationships in the international sphere. Attention to relational law enables us to align our concerns for local and global environmental and climate justice, including gender justice, with respect for Indigenous laws and institutions and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Ultimately, we must guard against unconscious acceptance of legal structures that invoke the bounded autonomous individual and, instead, actively seek relational laws and practices, whether in international law, human rights law, business law, and even environmental law.

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