Sustainability as a Legal Principle: Call for Papers

Third YUFE LAW Meeting, Rijeka, 23-24 June 2022

Photo by Headway

YUFE, the Young Universities for the Future of Europe, is an alliance of ten dynamic, student-centred research-based universities and four non-academic partners from the non-governmental and private sector for an impactful European University. Together, the YUFE partners aim to establish one of the first true European Universities.

Essex is part of the YUFE alliance and is working with its partners to shape the future of European higher education by establishing a European University that’s open to all. 

Continuing its recently established YUFE LAW practice, first at the meeting in Maastricht in January 2020 and subsequently, at the meeting in Bremen in May 2021, applications are invited for the Third YUFE LAW meeting which will be held by the Faculty of Law in Rijeka, Croatia on 23 and 24 June 2022.

Following last year’s model, the discussion concerning the past and future cooperation within the YUFE LAW will be held in parallel with the dissemination of research at the international scientific conference dedicated to the topic of Sustainability as a Legal Principle.

The term “sustainable development” started gaining planetary recognition probably with the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the Earth Plan. At the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the need for consistency between the three pillars of sustainable development – being social justice, economic growth, and environmental protection – was stressed as crucial thus paving the way for what we understand as sustainable development nowadays.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 to ensure common values of peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The core of the Agenda is made of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

Understanding sustainable development as a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, its initial meaning has been broadened much beyond environmental protection to encompass virtually all aspects of human activities.

Reaching SGDs can thus be done by means of regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy, developing responsible ICT enabled transformation, reducing waste, or fighting extreme poverty just as by eradicating inequalities, empowering women, ensuring full and productive employment, and decent work for all, or promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Law is a powerful means in achieving SDGs because the underlying policies may be more efficiently achieved if effectively in-built in legal regulation and not just made part of promotional activities or alike. Reinforcement by means of legal norms seems to be one of the key factors in following through the 2030 Agenda.

Indeed, by now, many preambles, pieces of legislation. statements and declarations contain references to sustainable development, international, European or national. In various areas of law, support or justification for certain regulatory solutions is sought in sustainable development concerns. Such concerns are being more explicitly articulated by the courts and tribunals in different countries.

It is increasingly recognised at many levels that bringing together social, environmental and economic rules and regimes is necessary. Gradually, sustainable development has entered the legal sphere and we may ask ourselves to what extent is sustainability a legal principle.

Against this backdrop, recent years have witnessed also intensified academic discussions on the role of law in sustainable development. For legal researchers, this is a daring endeavour since it entails an interdisciplinary approach including deepening the understanding of the sustainable development and SDGs and attempting to gain a broader understanding and wider picture of the researched issues.

At the same time, legal scholars have a huge responsibility to attempt to discover the old laws which are at odds with the SDGs or to unmask the new ones which use the “greenwashing” practices rather than truly contribute to the achievement of one or more SDGs.

The Third YUFE LAW Research Conference welcomes papers from any area of law, with more or less interdisciplinary threads, which would discuss legal regulation in the context of the SGDs. The conference aims to gather experts in various fields of law affiliated with any of the YUFE partners, to discuss different topics under the umbrella of sustainability as a legal principle.

If you are interested and willing to contribute, please send the title and abstract of your proposed topic (1-2 pages) and your short CV (5 lines on current position and relevant publications) no later than 15 March 2022 to yufe.law@uniri.hr.

The conference will be held in hybrid form. The Faculty of Law in Rijeka will be able to provide lunch and refreshments to all onsite participants, but travel and accommodation should be covered from other sources (e.g., Erasmus+ funding or home institutions).

We look forward to meeting you in Rijeka!

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