CECS lunch seminar with Louis J. Kotzé

The Anthropocene, Earth System Vulnerability and Socio-ecological Injustice in an Age of Human Rights

Human rights have been unable to respond effectively to the many deeply intertwined socio-ecological injustices in the Anthropocene. In particular, human rights have failed to practically address, in any meaningful way, the plights of billions of oppressed human beings (and entirely fail to address the vulnerability of non-human beings), while conceptually they are proving to be ill-suited for the epistemic demands of the Anthropocene. As a trope, the Anthropocene presents an opportunity to re-interrogate the role of human rights as key mechanisms in the state’s regulatory mix to address socio-ecological injustices arising from within the context of a vulnerable Earth system. This paper reflects upon whether a re-interrogation could be accomplished by utilizing vulnerability theory, which is an alternative approach to ethical evaluation. As a heuristic, vulnerability has the potential to inform an ontological change of stance away from a human-centred, neo-liberal, and impregnably Western understanding of human rights, towards an altogether more porous and contingent understanding of the vulnerability of the entire living order as a starting point from which to critique the epistemological closures and regulatory failures of the human rights paradigm in the Anthropocene.

Sandwich and soft drinks will be served.


For participation in the seminar please use this registration form no later than 14 January 2019 , 12:00.

Bio Professor Louis J. Kotzé

Email: louis.kotze@nwu.ac.za

Louis Kotzé is Research Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, North-West University, South Africa where he teaches in the post-graduate LLM programme in Environmental Law and Governance. He is also Visiting Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom. His research focuses on the Anthropocene, environmental constitutionalism, human rights, and global environmental governance. He has over 130 publications on these themes. Recent books include: Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (with Anna Grear-Edward Elgar, 2015); Global Environmental Constitutionalism in the Anthropocene (Hart, 2016); Environmental Law and Governance for the Anthropocene (Hart, 2017); Sustainable Development Goals: Law, Theory and Implementation (with Duncan French-Edward Elgar, 2018). He is co-editor of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment and assistant editor of Earth System Governance. In 2016 he obtained a second PhD at Tilburg University, Netherlands, and has been awarded a European Commission Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Fellowship to lead a research project during 2018-2019 at the University of Lincoln entitled: Global Ecological Custodianship-Innovative International Environmental Law for the Anthropocene (GLEC-LAW).