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ACT hosts a three-day digital conference titled, Private Rights for Nature on 3-5 June 2020.

Event details of ACT Conference: Private Rights for Nature
Start date 3 June 2020
End date 5 June 2020
Time 15:00
Organised by Laura Burgers
photo: L. Burgers

Conference Description

The traditional civil codes distinguish between the law of persons and the law of things. This demarcation is however under pressure owing to the emerging transnational movement called Rights of Nature or Earth Jurisprudence. Around the world, natural entities that long would have been regarded as things – animals, but also rivers, for example, and mountains, forests, even Mother Earth herself – are recognised as persons before the law. This means they are endowed with rights and that they get standing to defend their intrinsic interest before courts.

Legal and theoretical scholarship on this issue is growing, however not yet in the field of (European) private law. At the same time, it is often civil codes that determine which entities have legal personality. Furthermore, Rights of Nature are likely to affect private property rights and businesses. When Nature attains rights, she is likely to invoke them against both public and private legal persons, using strategies similar to those adopted by these more traditional legal persons. Thus, Earth Jurisprudence not only impacts private legal relationships, it also benefits from insights gained in the field of private law.

This conference aims to conceptualise private law dimensions of rights of nature. Thus, it does not so much ponder the question, whether animals or natural entities should be recognised as legal persons, but rather takes their legal personality as a starting point for reflection. At the same time, accounts of what such personality would mean in practice might provide relevant insights for those considering to establish more legal personalities for natural entities. As an organizing principle, the conference uses various themes that emerge in civil codes, thus delivering an impression of a hypothetical Civil Code for Nature.

Attendance is free of charge. To register, email to Laura Burgers at