Prof. Dr. Pierre Brunet

Université Paris 1 (Panthéon Sorbonne)

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Pierre Brunet obtained his doctorate degree in Law at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in 1997 with a thesis entiteld "Le concept de représentation dans la théorie de l'Etat". Subsequently, Pierre Brunet taught as an Assistant Professor at the University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas). In 2000 he was named Professor of Public Law at the University of Rouen. From 2004 to 2015 he was professor at the Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre La Défense. Furthermore, he was a Junior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) from 2009 to 2014. In 2015, Prof. Brunet went to the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon Sorbonne), where he also served as Director of the LL.M. de droit français et droit europén and the Double LL.M. Sorbonne-Queen Mary. In addition, he was Director of the Public Law Department of the Sorbonne Law School from 2016 to 2019. Pierre Brunet is co-editor and member of several editorial boards of French and foreign journals, among others the journal "Droit et Société" (LGDJ). Moreover, he was a visiting professor at universities in Brazil, Italy, Japan, USA and Argentina.

His main research interests include jurisprudence, legal theory, French and comparative constitutional law, French administrative law and legal argumentation. For some years, he has been working on constitutional environmentalism, animal rights and environmental ethics and the related synthesis of constitutional law and legal theory.

From May to September 2020 Prof. Dr. Pierre Brunet was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Law as Culture" in Bonn.

Research project

“Rights of nature as a new paradigm? Towards a comparative and interdisciplinary approach”

Since Christopher Stone’s very first and founding paper “Should Trees Have Standing”, the concept of Rights of Nature has generated and continues nowadays to generate a lot of works not only in the US but also in Latin America, Europe and Asia.  Also the German-speaking area must be mentioned, as many papers were published in the 80’s of the 20th century in German journals.

The most famous case is, of course, the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador, which devotes a chapter to the rights of Mother Earth or Pachamama. Similarly, while the 2009 Bolivian Constitution does not contain a provision expressly recognizing the rights of nature but “a human right to a healthy environment”, the following year Bolivia adopted a law on the rights of Mother Earth. In addition, some instruments of international law have helped to give substance to the idea of the rights of nature by recognizing the intrinsic value of certain natural entities (e.g. Bern Convention, 1979; Rio Convention, 1992). Lately, many other examples were reported (USA, New Zealand, Colombia, India, Philippines, Brazil…), so that one could say that we are facing a “revolution that could save the world” (Boyd).  In contrast to an anthropocentric conception of the relationship between man and nature where nature has value because its usefulness to human beings, an ecocentric conception endorses the intrinsic value of nature: nature is good in itself regardless of any cause (because God created it) and any consequence (because people would be happier or more virtuous). This ecocentric way of thinking is beginning to spread through positive law from one continent to another, as shown by very recent cases. Although the term remains far from clear and raises several issues not only for positive environmental law and environmental policies but also for legal theory.
As it is often the case with legal texts, neither these rights nor the object called “nature” are clearly defined. Moreover, it should be added that “nature” does not exist as an object: it is a concept and we know that such a concept is a culturally determined one as it is the case for the distinction between culture and nature, humans and non-humans (Levi-Strauss, Escobar, Descola). We are then facing ontological, epistemological and theoretical issues: what does that mean to talk about “rights” for nature? Would these rights be given to “nature” or recognized? How shall we know these rights? Would these rights be balanced with human rights? Are these “rights of nature” part of natural law or of positive law? Is the distinction between natural law and positive law still relevant to give an account of the rights of nature?
My hypothesis is that “rights of nature” is a mixed term, a way of translating a non-western ontology into the western law’s categories and the issues are both legal and anthropological and also political. A truly realistic position requires us to appreciate what the discourses of rights of nature tell us about their supporter’s concept of law. Is it a legal pluralism in action? And in what kind of pluralism are we committed in using the term? Anyway, we are facing a powerful instrument for reorganizing legal categories in a much more ecological and less anthropocentric way of thinking about the law. Assuming a conception of law as culture, exploring and debating rights of nature seems more than necessary.

Publications (selected)

  • «L’écologie des juges. La personnalité juridique des entités naturelles en Colombie et en Inde», in M.-A. Cohendet (dir.), Droit constitutionnel et environnement, Paris, Mare et Martin (forthcoming)
  • «French Legicentrism», in Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy, M. Sellers & S. Kirste (eds), Springer (forthcoming)
  • Para un análisis del discurso jurídico, trad. esp. Adriana María Cely R., Bogotá, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Centro de Investigación en Filosofía y Derecho, Serie de Teoría Jurídica y Filosofía del Derecho, n°98, 2019, 446 p
  • Cours de droit administratif 2019, avec Inès Lamouri et David Soldini, Paris, Éditions IEJ Jean Domat, coll. CRFPA (dir. Cl. François) 2019 [2e ed. à paraître, juin 2020]
  • «Vouloir pour la nature. La representation juridique des entités naturelles», in Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas, vol. 8, n°15, 2019, p. 2-44.
  • «Les droits de la nature et la personnalité juridique des entités naturelles: un commun qui s'ignore? / Rights of Nature and Legal Personality of Natural Entities in New Zealand: Making a Commons?» in Giornale di Storia Costituzionale, n°38 (“Costituzione e mutamento. Crisi delle istituzioni rappresentative e nuove sfide della democrazia / Constitution and Change. Crisis of representative Institutions and new Challenges of Democracy”), 2/2019, p. 39-53
  • «Les animaux dans l’arène des juristes?» in F. Carrié et S. Traïni, S’engager pour les animaux, Paris PUF, coll. La vie des idées, 2019, p.73-87
  • «Protéger la constitution par des cours constitutionnelles ou la société par des jurys constitutionnels?», in A. Le Pillouer, La protection de la constitution. Finalités, mécanismes, justifications, Faculté de droit et des sciences sociales de Poitiers, 2018, p. 169-182
  • «Représentation et Staatslehre: entre incarnation et fiction», in M. Albertone et D. Castiglione, Les défis de la représentation. Langages et pratiques politiques à l'époque moderne, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2018, p. 383-409
  • Formes et doctrines de l’État avec P. Bonin et S. Kerneis, Paris, Pedone, 2017