"BURNS H. WESTON (B.A.., LL.B., J.S.D., LL.D.) is the Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus & Senior Scholar, Center for Human Rights, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 USA. Co-Director (with David Bollier), Commons Law Project (www.commonslawproject.org). Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science. Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law. Co-author (with Bollier) of Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights, and the Law of the Commons (Cambridge University Press, January 2013). Email: <[email protected]>."
BURNS H. WESTON (B.A.., LL.B., J.S.D., LL.D.) is the Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus & Senior Scholar, Center for Human Rights, The University of Iowa (UI), Iowa City, Iowa 52240 USA. Founder & Associate Dean, International and Comparative Legal Studies Program, UI College of Law (1993-99). Founding Director, UI Center for Human Rights (1999-2004).
Key Perspective and Project: The vast majority of the world’s scientists agree: We have reached a point in history where we are in grave danger of destroying Earth's life-sustaining capacity. But our attempts to protect natural ecosystems are increasingly ineffective because our very conception of the problem is limited; we treat "the environment” as its own separate realm, taking for granted prevailing but outmoded conceptions of economics, national sovereignty, and international law. If Planet Earth is to survive as we know it, we must find new ways to protect our planet from the unsustainable growth imperatives of neoliberal economics and politics. This will require a new architecture of “green governance”―laws, public policies, and social practices that can honor human rights and commons-based management of natural resources large and small.
From this perspective, Weston has co-founded with David Bollier The Commons Law Project (CLP), a bold attempt to imagine a new architecture of law and public policy that can effectively address climate change and other urgent ecological problems while advancing human rights and social empowerment. Given the manifest failures of the existing State/Market duopoly to achieve these goals, it is imperative, they argue, that we move beyond reforms of the existing system to instigate new types of governance structures. They see “commons law” (not to be confused with common law) as a way to integrate a broader notion of economics, human rights, and commons-based governance into a compelling new paradigm of environmental protection.
In furtherance of this project vision, Weston and Bollier recently published Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights, and the Law of the Commons (Cambridge University Press, Jan. 2013), a direct response to the mounting calls for a paradigm shift in the way humans relate to the natural environment. The book opens the door to a new set of solutions by proposing a compelling new synthesis of environmental protection based on broader notions of economics and human rights and on commons-based governance. Going beyond speculative abstractions, the book proposes a new architecture of environmental law and public policy that is both practical and theoretically sound.
Noteworthily, the book includes a proposed Universal Covenant Affirming A Human Right to Commons- and Rights-based Governance of Earth's Natural Wealth and Resources, which can be used to advance the vision of Green Governance.
Pertinent Affiliations: Director, Climate Legacy Initiative (a joint project of the Vermont Law School Environmental Law Center and The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights); Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science; Honorary Editor, Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law; Editorial Review Board, Human Rights Quarterly; Editorial Review Board, Human Rights & Human Welfare; Editorial Board, Intergenerational Justice Review.
- GREEN GOVERNANCE: ECOLOGICAL SURVIVAL, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND THE LAW OF THE COMMONS (co-author with David Bollier, Cambridge University Press, Jan. 2013);
- INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND WORLD ORDER: A PROBLEM-ORIENTED COURSEBOOK (co-editor/co-contributor with J. Carlson & G. Palmer, West Publishing, 3d ed. 2012);
- RECALIBRATING THE LAW OF HUMANS WITH THE LAWS OF NATURE: CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND INTERGENERATIONAL JUSTICE (co-author with T. Bach, Vermont Law School, 2009);
- HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE WORLD COMMUNITY: ISSUES AND ACTION (co-editor/co-author with R. Claude, U. Pennsylvania Press, 3d ed. 2006);
- INTERNATIONAL LAW AND WORLD ORDER: A PROBLEM-ORIENTED COURSEBOOK (co-editor/co-contributor with R. Falk, H. Charlesworth, & A. Strauss, West Publishing, 4th ed. 2006);
- THE FUTURE OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS (co-editor/co-contributor with S. Marks, Transnational Publishers, 1999).
- “The Theoretical Foundations of Intergenerational Ecological Justice: An Overview,” 34 Hum. Rts. Q. 251 (2012);
- “Define and Develop a Law of the Ecological Commons for Present and Future Generations,” in Appendix B OF RECALIBRATING THE LAW OF HUMANS WITH THE LAWS OF NATURE: CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND INTERGENERATIONAL JUSTICE (Vermont Law School, 2009) (with C. Raffensperger & D. Bollier);
- “Climate Change and Intergenerational Justice: Foundational Reflections,” 9 Vt. J. Envtl. L. 375 (2008).