Reflection by Prof. Dr. Ellen Hey on on the challenges faced by international law due to the advent of the Anthropocene

In: Department IEUL|International Environmental Law|International Law

21 Nov 2016

Prof. Dr. Ellen Hey has just published an interesting Reflection on ‘the challenges faced by international law due to the advent of the Anthropocene.’ This new term, coined in the eighties and popularized in 2000 by Nobel laureate for chemistry Paul Crutzen, refers to a new era characterized by the human intervention on the Earth’s (eco)system. Prof. Hey provokingly argues that ‘the underlying reasons for the advent of the Anthropocene are deeply engrained in international law, in particular in international economic law and some of the trade-based mechanisms that are part of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs)’. She also argues “that these same underlying reasons are closely linked to the colonial legacy of international law.”

As noted by one commentator in the New York Times, ‘[t]he greatest challenge the Anthropocene poses may be to our sense of what it means to be human.’ From this vantage point, by reflecting on how international law is implicated in the reconfiguration of geological eras and in Anthropocene, Prof. Hey helps us seeing the very ‘human’ core of international law.

Enjoy the reading!

The Editorial Team of the IEUL Blog

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