The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Global Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights

1st Edition

By Joshua C. Gellers


150 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Over the past 40 years, countries throughout the world have similarly adopted human rights related to environmental governance and protection in national constitutions. Interestingly, these countries vary widely in terms of geography, politics, history, resources, and wealth. This raises the question: why do some countries have constitutional environmental rights while others do not? Bringing together theory from law, political science, and sociology, a global statistical analysis, and a comparative study of constitutional design in South Asia, Gellers presents a comprehensive response to this important question. Moving beyond normative debates and anecdotal developments in case law, as well as efforts to describe and categorize such rights around the world, this book provides a systematic analysis of the expansion of environmental rights using social science methods and theory. The resulting theoretical framework and empirical evidence offer new insights into how domestic and international factors interact during the constitution drafting process to produce new law that is both locally relevant and globally resonant. Scholars, practitioners, and students of law, political science, and sociology interested in understanding how institutions cope with complex problems like environmental degradation and human rights violations will find this book to be essential reading.


In his superbly-written new book, Professor Josh Gellers offers us an exciting, radically different and ground-breaking transdisciplinary perspective on the emergence of constitutional environmental rights through an innovative application of social science methods and empirical inquiries. As a leading political scientist and legal scholar, Professor Gellers is perfectly placed to pry open restrictive methodological approaches, providing as he does, fresh insights for lawyers to appreciate why countries actually adopt constitutional environmental rights.

Professor Louis J. Kotzé

Research Professor, North-West University, South Africa

In this exciting comparative environmental travelogue, Gellers maintains with wealth of impressive empirical evidence that international environmental norms make and mould ‘state identities’ and shape the design of national constitutions. All those especially interested in green governance and Anthropocene justice should find this rich work very rewarding.

Upendra Baxi

Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick and Delhi

The author’s novel interdisciplinary analytical device called "a world cultural framework of constitutional environmental rights" incorporating theories from international relations, sociology and law, seeks to improve our understanding of the emergence of environmental rights. He does so by skillfully drawing upon quantitative and qualitative analyses involving Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Sumudu Atapattu

Director of Research Centers at University of Wisconsin Law School

Overall, this book is a significant contribution to the growing literature on constitutional environmental rights. Gellers’ empirical, mixed-methods approach sets the bar high for other scholars seeking to tackle the many remaining questions in this field.

David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of figures and tables


List of abbreviations

1 Constitutions, human rights, and the environment

2 National constitutions in world society

3 The global expansion of environmental rights

4 The experiences of Nepal and Sri Lanka

5 Constitutions for a greener future?

Appendix: Technical discussion of qualitative research methodology


About the Author

Joshua C. Gellers is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Florida and Fulbright Scholar to Sri Lanka. His work focuses on environmental rights and sustainable development. His articles have appeared in International Environmental Agreements, Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, and Transnational Environmental Law.

About the Series

Law, Justice and Ecology

In an age of climate change, scarcity of resources, and the deployment of new technologies that put into question the very idea of the 'natural', this book series offers a cross-disciplinary, novel engagement with the connections between law and ecology. The fundamental challenge taken up by the series concerns the pressing need to interrogate and to re-imagine prevailing conceptions of legal responsibility, legal community and legal subjectivity, by embracing the wider recognition that human existence is materially embedded in living systems and shared with multiple networks of non-humans.

Encouraging cross-disciplinary engagement and reflection upon relevant empirical, policy and theoretical issues, the series pursues a thoroughgoing, radical and timely exploration of the multiple relationships between law, justice and ecology.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Constitutional
LAW / Environmental
LAW / International
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection