Book Launch: Towards the Environmental Minimum - Environmental Protection through Human Rights

If you would like to attend this event in person at the Sir Joseph Hotung Auditorium, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, please email with the subject '13 Oct Book Launch - In Person' by 12 October 2021. Please note that since seating is limited, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to attend the event in person. Seats will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. If your place is not confirmed, you can still attend the event online. If you would like to attend this event online, register to receive the Zoom webinar link.

The Bonavero Institute is pleased to invite you to the launch of Dr Stefan Theil’s monograph Towards the Environmental Minimum (Cambridge University Press, 2021). The launch will bring together academics from a wide variety of legal backgrounds to discuss the argument and themes of the book.

About the book
The book explores the implications of environmental degradation and pollution for domestic and international human rights protection regimes. Serious environmental pollution presents a fundamental challenge to any commitments to human rights because their meaningful enjoyment ultimately presupposes basic environmental guarantees. This is true regardless of whether one assigns an instrumental (economical) or an intrinsic (moral) value to the natural environment: it is abundantly clear that the current levels of pollution and degradation cannot continue without jeopardising the long-term survival of humankind.

The core objective of the book is to address the gap between human rights commitments to a healthy environment and the doctrinal reality and limitations of existing protection regimes. The book rejects the fashionable critique that environmental harm requires a radical departure from established legal categories and principles. Instead, the environmental minimum provides a normatively attractive and practically viable framework that allows courts to address environmental harm in a principled and consistent manner on the basis of domestic constitutions and international protection regimes (regardless of whether they specifically protect the environment).

The book draws on a unique and comprehensive dataset of the environmental case law of the ECHR and other regional and international protection regimes that is freely available for research and educational purposes here.

Stefan Theil is the John Thornley Fellow in Law at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. He completed his first degree in law at the University of Bayreuth (2011). After brief stints working for a commercial law firm and for the Research Services of the German Bundestag, Stefan earned an LL.M. from University College London (2013). Inspired to pursue a career in academia, he completed his doctoral work at the University of Cambridge (2018) and was the inaugural Research Fellow in Civil and Political Rights at Bonavero Institute, University of Oxford (2017-2021). Stefan’s research interests are broadly in human rights, public and constitutional law. In his recent book Towards the Environmental Minimum (Cambridge University Press, 2021) he argues for the recognition of a comprehensive framework that addresses the relationship between human rights and environmental harm. The core research question of his work on free expression is how the law should respond to the prevalence and abuse of private power, especially by structurally dominant actors.


Nick Barber joined the Oxford Law Faculty in 1998 as a Fixed Term Fellow at Brasenose, moving to a tenured Fellowship at Trinity College in 2000. He holds an MA from Oxford and the BCL, and is a non-practicing barrister and member of Middle Temple. In 2013 he was appointed University Lecturer in Constitutional Law and in 2017 he was appointed Professor of Constitutional Law and Theory. In 2012 and 2013 he was a visiting Professor at Renmin University, China. He has lectured extensively on constitutional law and theory in many countries. He has published many papers in these areas, and his book – The Constitutional State – was published in 2011, and has been widely reviewed. His second book, The Principles of Constitutionalism, was published by Oxford University Press in summer 2018. His most recent book, The United Kingdom Constitution: An Introduction will be published in the Clarendon Law Series in late 2021. He was founder editor of the United Kingdom Constitutional Law Blog, and he was a co-author, with Jeff King and Tom Hickman, of the blog post that sparked the litigation in Miller, a post which first advanced the arguments eventually adopted by the High Court and Supreme Court. Alongside Richard Ekins, he is co-director of The Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government. He is currently Associate Dean (Research).

Liz Fisher, BA/LLB (UNSW), D Phil (Oxon) is Professor of Environmental Law at Corpus Christi College and the Faculty of Law. Her research explores the interrelationship between law, administration and regulatory problems in different legal cultures with a particular focus on environmental problems. Her 2007 book, Risk Regulation and Administrative Constitutionalism, won the SLS Peter Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2008. Other publications include Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2017), Fisher, Lange and Scotford, Environmental Law: Text, Cases and Materials (2nd ed, OUP 2019), and Elizabeth Fisher and Sidney Shapiro, Administrative Competence: Reimagining Administrative Law (CUP 2020). She is General Editor of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and the Journal of Environmental Law (the latter until the end of 2022). She has won teaching awards, and served as Vice Dean of the Law Faculty 2013-6, HT 2019, and TT 2021 (the last being Vice Dean (Personnel)). Her current projects includes work on legal imagination and environmental futures, the craft of legal scholarship, and re-mapping English administrative law case law.

Jeff King is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Laws, University College London, a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford and a former Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Constitution Committee. He is the author of Judging Social Rights (CUP 2012), The Doctrine of Odious Debt in International Law (CUP 2016), and co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Deliberative Constitutionalism (CUP 2019), The Foundations and Future of Public Law (OUP 2020) and the forthcoming volume The Cambridge Handbook of Constitutional Theory (CUP 2021). He is the General Editor of the Lex-Atlas: Covid-19 project, a major multi-country study of national legal responses to Covid-19, in collaboration with King’s College London, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and Oxford University Press.

Kate O’Regan is the inaugural Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and a former judge of the South African Constitutional Court (1994 – 2009). In the mid-1980s she practiced as a lawyer in Johannesburg in a variety of fields, but especially labour law and land law, representing many of the emerging trade unions and their members, as well as communities threatened with eviction under apartheid land laws. In 1990, she joined the Faculty of Law at UCT where she taught a range of courses including race, gender and the law, labour law, civil procedure and evidence. Since her fifteen-year term at the South African Constitutional Court ended in 2009, she has amongst other things served as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia (from 2010 – 2016), Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency and a breakdown in trust between the police and the community of Khayelitsha (2012 – 2014), and as a member of the boards or advisory bodies of many NGOs working in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and equality.