Human Rights-Based Climate Litigation: A Latin American Cartography
Journal of Human Rights and the Environment
19 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 17, 2022
This article maps climate litigation developments in Latin America and their human rights and constitutional rights implications. As in other regions of the Global South, groups and individuals in Latin America have engaged in litigation to counter environmental harms threatening or violating the enjoyment of their human rights. Climate change, either as a primary or as a secondary concern, is slowly becoming a key concern of this form of strategic human rights-based litigation. Despite the gradual increase of the ‘Latin American docket’ of climate litigation cases, very few academic accounts have explored its legal dimensions or its contextual underpinnings. This article addresses this lacuna by identifying and examining the constitutional opportunities for and constraints upon adjudicating climate-related cases through human rights law and also problematises the development of climate litigation in Latin America by drawing attention to the influence of extractivist political and economic interests. The categories used for analysis stem from the literature on climate litigation in the Global South, case law and interviews with Latin-American litigants. The article concludes by stressing that this type of climate litigation is increasing and has led to several favourable verdicts, but caution is warranted as some political economy elements might hinder the development of such litigation, its inclusivity and long-term effectiveness.
Keywords: human rights, climate litigation, Latin America, constitutionalism, extractivism, legal opportunity structures, cartography
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