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Water Justice: The Case of Brazil

March 2018

Citation: ELR 10211

Author: Antonio Herman Benjamin

The main proposition of this Comment, which focuses on the Brazilian experience and the jurisprudence of the National High Court of Brazil (STJ), is that we must develop a water justice system. To some extent, this would be a novel concept, aggregating not just traditional principles of water and environmental law, policy, and management—like the polluter-pays, user-pays, and precautionary principles—but one that would also embrace new and strengthen existing legal perspectives, such as recognition of the intrinsic public nature of water and the principle in dubio pro aqua. These principles must be coupled with the adoption of innovative enforcement mechanisms and institutions, which should include at their core the judiciary, and that are conformed by nature instead of attempting to conform nature.

Antonio Herman Benjamin is a Justice at the National High Court of Brazil (STJ), Chair of the World Commission on Environmental Law (IUCN WCEL), and Secretary General of the United Nations Environment International Advisory Council for Environmental Justice.

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