Francesca Cerulli

Anthropocentrism v Ecocentrism in the Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

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Climate change and environmental degradation represent the greatest threats to the future of humanity. To date, the legal attempts to stop them have primarily been characterized by the adoption of an anthropocentric paradigm, typical of the Western legal tradition. However, in the last decade, we have gradually witnessed a change of perspective. Indeed, an alternative paradigm has emerged, especially in Latin America, inspired by the indigenous worldview. It recognizes an intrinsic value to Nature, which is no longer considered an object and a resource to be exploited, but rather a subject of rights. This paper focuses on the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to verify whether an eco-centric approach is making its way into the interpretation of the American Convention of Human Rights. The analysis starts with a brief reconstruction of the cornerstones of the eco-centric approach. Subsequently, the paper analyzes the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court to ascertain the possible influence of this theory on its work and the consequences for the effective protection of Nature. From the judgments examined, we can notice an emerging interpretation of the Convention by the San José Court that marks a gradual evolution from anthropocentrism towards the acceptance, albeit partial and limited, of an eco-systemic conception of the rights protected by the Convention.


  • right to a healthy environment
  • rights of Nature
  • environmental protection
  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • ecocentrism
  • anthropocentrism


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