When Human Rights Are Not Enough: Defending the Rights of Nature (with Mari Margil)

by | Apr 10, 2018

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Interviewee: Mari Margil

Mari Margil is the Associate Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). She leads CELDF’s International Center for the Rights of Nature. CELDF has assisted the first communities in the United States to secure the rights of nature in law, and is representing the first ecosystems to defend those rights. Margil assisted Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly to draft rights of nature constitutional provisions. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to recognize these rights. She is now working in Nepal, India, Australia, and other countries – as well as with tribal nations – to advance rights of nature frameworks. Margil received her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is a co-author of The Bottom Line or Public Health, 2010, Oxford University Press, and Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence, 2011, Wakefield Press.

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Interviewer: Kira Allmann

Kira Allmann is the OxHRH Communications Director and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. Her current research focuses on digital inequality, exploring community-driven grassroots solutions to closing the digital divide. She leads several research projects, using ethnographic methods to study the role of community-owned internet networks, local digital skills training, and public internet access points in promoting digital inclusion. Kira is also a research partner of the Whose Knowledge? campaign, which works to center the knowledge of marginalized communities on the web. She completed her DPhil in Oriental Studies (Islamic World) at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and also holds an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies (University of Oxford) and a B.A. in Government and Linguistics (The College of William and Mary).

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There is an unmistakable growing awareness of the ways in which our human lives and the environment are intertwined and interdependent. Unprecedented environmental degradation, resource depletion, and the looming reality of climate change have all drawn anxious attention to the human impact on the environment. Law is critically important here. Countries like Spain, France, Portugal, and Finland have already recognized a human right to a healthy environment. But some environmental advocates are arguing that this isn’t enough. We need to recognize the inherent rights of nature itself. In this episode, we discuss the limitations of human rights in confronting environmental harms and how we could realise the rights of nature.

Produced by: Dr Kira Allmann (University of Oxford)
Interview(s) with: Mari Margil (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund)
Music by: Rosemary Allmann

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