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CODE 111155
SEMESTER 1° Semester


This course is part of the project “Jean Monnet Module - Rights Turn in Climate Change Litigation (RCCL)” and it aims to provide a multidisciplinary analysis of human rights-based climate change litigation as a trend developing fast at national, European and global level. The involvement of citizens, individuals, NGOs and the society as a whole in the comprehensive decision-making process to mitigate climate change, or to adapt to it, has triggered an ever-growing involvement of those actors in the several judicial fora, where decisions may be taken in this field.

The course wants to carry out a detailed analysis of this interesting development, and to foster a thorough knowledge and awareness on the protection of human and fundamental rights in the climate change phenomenon.



This course will focus on human-rights based climate change litigation as a fast-growing trend, consisting in strategic claims lodged before national and supranational courts where the plaintiffs seek the government’s accountability for climate policy failures, or for lack of climate ambition.

The analysis of the topic will be developed not only from a legal point of view but with specific attention to its case-law implementation and on the base of a comparative perspective and methodology, involving different national and supranational levels in Europe and beyond.

First of all, human-rights base climate change litigation will be clearly defined, to distinguish them from other categories of climate litigation, tracing their development from the American continent to Europe.

The fundamental rights which can be threatened by climate changes will be then identified, in the multilevel protection system, thus requiring to investigate the legal framework at the Members’ level, at the EU level, within the European Convention on human rights system, and in the international scenario. The course will try to derive some conclusions and anticipate new development in this fast-growing domain, in particular in the perspective of the conceptualization of a subjective right to climate and/or other rights not yet foreseen by national Constitutions and European Charters.

Finally, the contribution of international experts will enable students to understand, on a practical level, to what extent the judicial activism is contributing to shape the general legal framework and public policies related to climate change, in the European Union and in some EU member states.


Starting from its first appearance on the international scenario in 2005 with the Inuit Petition before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, human rights-based climate litigation spread rapidly across the American continent, creating a relevant national and supranational case-law.

Recently, also Europe has started experiencing climate litigation in its jurisdictional landscape. The tendency sees especially national courts as main boosters in seeking government’s accountability for climate policy failure that endanger the society, by providing the link between government’s inaction and specific climate change related harms. The first European cases were brought before national courts by individuals and organizations seeking more effective actions to combat climate change by their States.

Moreover, the increasing number of climate change-related applications brought before the European supranational Courts provide them with a unique opportunity to forge the legal path towards a more comprehensive and effective implementation of the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union and the European Convention of Human Rights.

The aim of the Course is to analyse this wave of legal actions. One of its key features consists in the analysis and discussion of human rights and constitutional law arguments, in a new trend described by scholars as a “rights-turn” in climate litigation.

The course will focus on rights-based climate change litigation. Therefore, the international and European environmental law framework and its impact on the domestic legal systems - which is the subject matter of the Course “EU and Transnational environmental Law” of Masters’ degree in Law – will be only recalled as the “constitutional” framework where to place the strategic ligation challenging rights violations, and in view of which to evaluate the outcomes of the legal actions.


The Course is structured into four main sections.

(i) A Global approach to human rights and climate change litigation will allow this type of legal actions to be defined, and to understand the overall trend. Its birth and development will be traced in the American Continent, and therefore its spread around the world, especially in Europe.

The presentation of selected case law and the interactive discussion with students will make it possible to identify and illustrate the theoretical challenges beyond the relationship between human rights and climate change.

 (ii) The European path towards a comprehensive justiciability of human rights in climate change litigation.

(iii) and (iv) Two international experts will give students a comprehensive analysis of all the relevant elements at stake. On the basis of a multidisciplinary approach, students will be able to derive the legal consequences of this litigation and better understand and assess to what extent the judicial activism is contributing to shaping the public policies related to climate change, in the European Union and in some EU countries




Lectures will be given in-presence; professors will present topics, also using slideshow and answering student questions that may arise. Part of the course is characterized by a case-based learning, with case- study analysis and collaborative scenario discussions.

The Course materials (teaching materials, readings and bibliography) will be available on Aulaweb, and students are invited to register to the platform as soon as possible; additional texts, readings and other learning material will be uploaded at least two days before the respective session.

Students will be practically involved in the creation of a public database on the Jean Monnet Module RCCL’s website, collecting all relevant human rights-based climate change litigation globally produced.

A second legal clinic will be organized alongside the Course, with the participation of experts and lawyers involved in high profile human rights-based climate litigation, allowing students to get in touch with practical aspects of these type of legal actions (actors involved in climate litigation, filing lawsuits, legal strategies, arguments of claimants and defendants, etc.)



The following topics will be addressed in detail:

  1. A general introduction to the global problem of climate change: factors, effects, actors. A global approach to human rights and climate change litigation (definition, discovery of human rights in the climate change litigation, analysis of climate change litigation at global level); (b) theoretical challenges beyond the relationship between human rights and climate change; (c) formal recognition of the linkages between human rights and climate change (at international, national and European level); (d) human rights-based climate change litigation in the framework of  the European system of multilevel protection of fundamental rights (the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights at the proof of climate change, remedies before the European Court of Human Rights and their potential for climate change cases); (e) European path towards a comprehensive justiciability of human rights in climate litigation (climate change litigation’s emergence at the European level through selected cases before national courts; climate change claims lodged before the ECtHR and the CJEU; the future of climate change litigation in Europe); (f) legal clinic for understanding the legal and political process beyond EU’s path towards the definition of a common strategy on climate change; (g) human-rights based climate change litigation and global constitutional climate policy (conceptual and policy-making intricacies of climate change as a novel and global problem; institutional settings for such policy-making, at European and global levels and in some EU countries, especially Italy).


At the end of the Course, the students will be expected to:

  • deepen their knowledge of human rights protection;
  • differentiate human-rights based climate litigation from other lawsuits related to climate change;
  • describe the use of human rights arguments in legal practice;
  • explain why fundamental rights are involved in climate change litigation;
  • derive conclusions  from the successes and failures in the present body of case law;
  • illustrate how respondent states demonstrate the adequacy of their climate change mitigation efforts, in the perspective of human rights;
  • evaluate how human rights-based climate litigation and their outcomes contribute in changing the behaviour of governments or private actors, advancing climate policies, foster public awareness;
  • Identify future pathways to effectively use human rights arguments in climate change litigation, especially in light of the Italian domestic experience


All these outcomes shall be assessed during the oral exams.


Attending students (who have attended at least 75% of the lessons): learning materials (slides, lecture notes, regulation, jurisprudence and in-depth reading) uploaded on Aulaweb.

Non-attending students: learning materials (slides, lecture notes, regulation, jurisprudence and in-depth reading) uploaded on Aulaweb in a special folder.


Exam Board


FRANCESCA BAILO (President Substitute)

MICHELE FRANCAVIGLIA (President Substitute)



The course will take place during the first semester of the academic year 2023/2024

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



For attending and non-attending students, the final exam is in oral form, usually articulated in four open questions.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
19/12/2023 11:30 GENOVA Orale
11/01/2024 11:30 GENOVA Orale
06/02/2024 11:30 GENOVA Orale
16/05/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
30/05/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
20/06/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
04/07/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
12/09/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale