Should trees have standing? Towards legal rights for natural objects (C. Stone).

Author

Christopher Stone

Keywords

Development of rights, development of children’s rights, standing for ‘natural objects’.

Abstract

This article, from the era when the birth of modern environmentalism and conservationism arguably emanated, is an abstract but serious attempt to propose that forests, oceans and rivers, in fact the entire natural environment, should be afforded legal rights. The piece explains that the granting of new rights involves two aspects; first, legal-operational aspects and second psychic and socio-psychic aspects. The author argues that it would be seemingly ridiculous to state that ‘natural objects’ should have no rights to seek legal redress merely because they cannot speak up for themselves. It is considered normal for corporations, who cannot speak, to employ lawyers to act on their behalf; the same can be said for states, estates, children etc. The mentally incompetent or any person that is incapable of managing their own affairs is provided, by the courts, with someone who can whilst a business entity that has become ‘incompetent’ is, for example, appointed a trustee in bankruptcy; conceivably someone could apply to the courts to be the ‘guardian’ of a natural object that is perceived to be in danger.

Citation

(1972) 45 Southern California Law Review 450

Paper

Should trees have standing? Towards legal rights for natural objects.

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