Course Description

Air, water, food – these are the sources of life. Without them, we die. And in more than 180 nations, citizens are legally entitled to these essential elements of life. From Buenos Aires to Brussels, from the Netherlands to the Philippines, devoted citizens and creative lawyers are using the courtroom to win dramatic, innovative legal battles for Mother Earth. But not in Canada or the United States.

Drawing on the films, the video interviews and the book which make up The Green Interview’s multi-media project on environmental rights, (www.GreenRights.com), this course analyzes the power of human rights to achieve environmental goals. It asks why those rights are not recognized in North America – and whether current lawsuits driven by children and First Nations could secure those rights for citizens of Canada and the US.

Course Outline

Students registered for the Certificate of Participation in POLS3704 will be required to participate in a meaningful way in at least half of the activities posted within the online classroom.

This course will unfold over 4 units:


  1. Setting the Scene: History and Theory of Human Rights and Green Rights Feature interview: David Boyd interview (Canada and Global) Escaping “the North American bubble” – other legal devices (amparo, kalikisan)
  2. Making It  Real: Holding Government and Industry to Account Green Rights may be in the language of the law, but how to get them into use? Feature interview: Daniel Sallaberry, Riachuelo/Mendoza case (Argentina) Supplementary: Marina Aizen  (Argentina)
  3. Moving It Forward: Distinguished Visitor Colloquium (live) … from UBC, with David Boyd, UBC professor and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, on the current state and outlook of Green Rights globally


  1. Holding Industry to Account Suing the Global Corporation: Chevron Toxico (Ecuador/USA) Feature interview: Pablo Fajardo (Ecuador) Supplementary (Financing the suit): Stephen Donziger (USA), Jan van de Venis (Netherlands)
  2. The lives and deaths of environmental defenders (especially Indigenous ones) Feature interviews: Santiago Manuin Valera (Peru) and Femke Wijdekop (Netherlands)
  3. Holding Government to Account: Distinguished Visitor Colloquium (live) … from Amsterdam, with Marjan Minnesma, Urgenda Foundation (Netherlands)

Feb 18 - 22     READING WEEK: NO CLASS


  1. Plaintiffs and Politics: Who can sue? Feature interview: Mary Christina Wood, Our Children’s Trust (USA) Supplementary: Antonio Oposa Jr., (Philippines) the rights of the future (brief, no detail) David Suzuki (Canada) Creating the Blue Dot movement Thomas Linzey/Mari Margil (USA) Universal rights, local actions (CELDF)
  2. Wild Law and The Rights of Nature Feature interviews: Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Pablo Solon (Bolivia), Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Other interviews: Mumta Ito (Scotland) obtaining Green Rights in the EU; Alberto Acosta and Natalia Green (Ecuador),  embedding nature’s rights in the Montecristi Constitution of 2008 
  3. The Reefs, the Roads, the Forests and the Future:  Distinguished Visitor Colloquium (live)  … from the Philippines, with Antonio Oposa, Jr.


  1. New Law for the Anthropocene Feature interview: Polly Higgins (UK): Making ecocide a global crime Supplementary: Maxine Burkett (USA): citizens of drowned nations Making the link between damage and responsibility: climate suits against Big Oil
  2. Indigenous Perspectives Feature interview: Edmund Metatawabin (Cree) : A way of life sustainable for 11,000 years Supplementary: Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaw): Nature has rights, humans have responsibilities When legal perspectives collide: Elsipogtog, Larry Kowalchuk (Canada)
  3. The Laws of Nature and the Nature of Law: Distinguished Visitor Colloquium (live, 90 minutes) … from Victoria/UBC, with John Borrows (Anishinaabe) What is law? Where does it come from? What is its claim on us? Sources of Western law Indigenous law: Deriving law from the world around us World’s first indigenous/common law degree at UVictoria


Your instructor for this course will be Silver Donald Cameron:

Silver Donald Cameron, CM, ONS, PhD, is a distinguished writer, filmmaker and educator whose work includes numerous plays and films, hundreds of essays and articles, and 18 books. He was the founding Dean of the School of Community Studies at Cape Breton University. He is currently Host and Executive Producer at TheGreenInterview.com, which – along with Dr. Cameron’s book Warrior Lawyers –  is an essential resource for this course.

Here is the full trailer for the film:


Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
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