Symposium "Revisionist ontologies for law and human rights in the Anthropocene

Friday, 28 October 2016 - Final Programme: Anthropocene Symposium Final Programme   

The deadline for the submission of papers has now passed

Location: University of Strathclyde, Collins Building, Room CL205

Link for Registration. 

Jointly organised by Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance, the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law and the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment.

The symposium is designed to allow in-depth engagement with its theme in a highly interactive setting over one day. Our symposia are always intellectually stimulating and highly enjoyable.

Early expressions of interest are warmly encouraged as numbers tend to be restricted in order to ensure a useful depth of engagement in a meaningful, extended conversation.

This year’s theme invites engagement with the central question of the ontology “law and human rights in the Anthropocene”. Scientists suggest that we are entering a new human-dominated geological epoch called the Anthropocene, which will amplify demands on our ailing regulatory institutions, including law and its constructs—such as human rights. Juridical institutions are significantly complicit in the genesis of the Anthropocene and ironically also those regulatory institutions charged with addressing Anthropocene exigencies. The failures and deficiencies of law and human rights are implicated by their continuity with the deep assumptions and ideological foundations of the Anthropocene’s human-induced signatures. In this light, certain scholars have loosely characterized law as being:

  • not compatible with (or adequate to) Earth system complexities
  • unresponsive to Earth system changes
  • inflexible and insufficiently reflexive
  • state-centred in a way that preserves sovereignty by shutting out alternative modes of ecological care

Collectively these factors are thought to legitimise and reinforce the type of human behaviour that is causing the Anthropocene while further exacerbating environmental destruction, gender and class inequalities, growing inter and intra-species hierarchies, human rights abuses, and socio-economic and ecological injustices.

The time has come to re-envision law and human rights and their ontological orientations and to re-imagine the ways in which law and human rights could deal with the human-environment interface in the Anthropocene.

All queries should be directed at Louis Kotzé at or to Saskia Vermeylen at

Download the Anthropocene Symposium flyer and the Anthropocene Symposium Final Programme  

Related links