The 2017 Inter-American Court’s Advisory Opinion: changing the paradigm for international environmental law in the Anthropocene

The state of our environment is continuously deteriorating, and the frame of the ‘Anthropocene’ calls for transformative laws that respond to the current socio-ecological crisis. Since environmental diplomacy has signally failed to respond to current challenges, courts are being confronted with crucial questions that fundamentally address whether existing legal tools are sufficient to ensure human survival. In 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a landmark Advisory Opinion that goes some way towards answering this question. The Advisory Opinion recognized extraterritorial jurisdiction for transboundary environmental harm; the autonomous right to a healthy environment; and State responsibility for environmental damage within and beyond the State’s borders. This article analyzes the legal arguments constructed by the Court, assessing whether, and how, the Opinion changes paradigms of international environmental law.

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