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Courting Environmental Justice: Exploring the Adjudicatory Dimensions in a Globalised World (REF: SF18/LAW/GILL)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G Gill
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Access to justice rights, a strong procedural dimension, in environmental justice discourse requires fair, open, informed and inclusive state institutional processes. These are the means to redress environmental damage or harm, and protect and enforce legitimate interests to further the rule of law and environmental sustainability. Within this context, the role of judiciary in shaping and facilitating the development of environmental laws, policies and principles is crucial. The judiciary act as an ‘agent of development’ institutionalizing deliberative and democratic participation and the construction of capabilities of individuals, groups and nature to ensure environmental governance.

Facilitating innovative judicial leadership requires the judiciary to reframe its thinking and the application of environmental principles and adjudicatory processes at international and domestic for achieving ecological sustainable development. For instance, currently the recognition of the rights of nature has been promoted within several jurisdictions implying a holistic approach to all life and ecosystems. The role of a specialised, responsive and transformative judiciary is critical in acknowledging, developing and interpreting environmental laws moving, albeit slowly, from an anthropocentric to a bio-centric and/or eco-centric approach. Further, recognising scientific experts (an epistemic community) within an adjudicatory setup would determine pathways and provide future course of actions for a collective, symbiotic, inter-disciplinary, wise and timely decision-making. Harmonising legal norms with scientific knowledge would promote ecological justice aimed at protecting and respecting the earth and its system and ensuring equitable and social welfare of the people thereby addressing potential conflicts between people and the planet. However, the introduction of scientific determinants, as presented by experts, into legal rationality, as exercised by the judiciary raises questions such as the neutrality and objectivity of science and the role and limits of judicial creativity.

This call invites applicants to engage with environmental justice discourses, to consider juristic and scientific interventions through the interpretation of human/environmental rights discourse alongside access to justice rights, and provide responses and offer redress resulting in an incremental move towards an ecological nature based policy orientated approach. The topic encourages applicants to consider comparative, inter-disciplinary, national or thematic-case studies that reflect and illustrate the key research themes. Applicants are required to demonstrate their awareness of relevant literature, key legal documents and indicate how they might address the key research issues identified through the framing of a set of research questions.

This PhD is linked to one of the eight multi-disciplinary research themes at Northumbria University: Environmental and Global Justice and to the International Law Research Interest Group within the Law School.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF18/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self funded project and does not include fees.


Environmental Justice in India: The National Green Tribunal- (Routledge UK- Earthscan, Environmental and Sustainability Development Studies, January 2017)

The National Green Tribunal of India: Decision-Making, Scientific Expertise and Uncertainty, Journal of Environmental Law and Management (Special Edition) (2017) 29(2-3), pp 82-88
Environmental Justice in India: The National Green Tribunal and Expert Members, Transnational Environmental Law Journal (CUP) (2016) 5(1), pp 175-205 (Open-Access)

Human Rights and Environment Protection in India: A Judicial Journey from Public Interest Litigation to the National Green Tribunal, in Thought, Law, Rights and Action in an Age of Environmental Crisis, edited by A. Grear and E. Grant Edward Elgar, (2015) pp. 123-154

Related Subjects

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