Research

Prof. Dr. Birgit Peters' research focuses on international and European environmental law, internationalisation and Europeanisation of administrative law, international and European human rights protection institutions.

Prof. Dr. Birgit Peters is involved in the World Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE), the European Society of International Law (ESIL), the Constitutional Law Teachers' Association and the German Association for International Law.


Current Third Party Funded Projects

Perspectives on International Law in Practice

The project "Perspectives on International Law in Practice" provides students in International Law and International Relations with practical insights into international and European law through the course "International Law II: International Human Rights Protection." Students are actively involved in creating the course content.

The project focuses on creating media content which becomes part of the lecture. Traditional methods often fall short in conveying the practice of international law. Blended learning and pre-recorded videos aim to make this more tangible. That is why we are organising two field trips to the ECHR and ITLOS to allow creation of video materials on-site, providing future students with a digital insight.

Master’s students in International Relations and Diplomacy contribute by writing scripts, conducting interviews, and participating in front of the camera. These activities are part of their examination requirements called Portfolios.

The digital content is continuously developed and expanded. Future semesters will create additional material that complements the existing content. Gradually, a comprehensive blended learning platform "International Law in Practice" will be developed, hosted on Stud.IP. This platform supports self-study, discussion in classroom settings, and enriches traditional teaching materials.

Overall, the project integrates modern pedagogical approaches into university teaching and sustainably enhances the curriculum through practical experiences.

Law & Nature

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The project aims to explore the extent to which a new view of jurisprudence is viable and what elements this new research approach might contain. This approach is called "Law and Nature". It is intended to place human beings as part of nature in the focus of the study of law. So far, there have only been fragmented and poorly coordinated attempts to prevent the destruction of nature and the environment from a jurisprudential perspective.

Comparable to the research perspective "Law and Economics", a holistic and systematically coherent research approach is to be developed. However, this has as its goal the investigation of how law can effectively counteract the destruction of the environment and nature, which represents a task for humanity. Ideally, a new research approach is to be developed which, on the one hand can counter the risks of further environmental destruction (climate change, species extinction, famine, migration) without, on the other hand, giving up democratic and human rights freedoms.

First, the basic viability of such a concept and its essential elements should be determined. For example, the time factor must be included, taking into consideration natural and environmental damage that has already occurred and on the other hand, its effects in the future. Legal science must also be open to the findings of other sciences (interdisciplinarity), which is why a biologist with a doctorate and many years of experience in the field of ecosystems and modelling, was recruited for the multifaceted cooperation.

In collaboration with Junior Prof Nils Schaks, University of Mannheim

 

The Power of the Citizens, Theoria UR 26

Representative democracy is in crisis! This thesis is not new, but it now also refers to the actions of the executive. Promoted by the internet, social media, education and personal information, individuals' expectations of co-determination in administrative decisions are growing.

Nationally, this is particularly evident in infrastructure planning such as Stuttgart 21, while at the international level, citizens' and interest groups are demanding more influence on issues such as world trade or climate protection. International and European law have taken this development into account since the 1990s by granting individual co-determination rights and rights of action, for example in environmental law. Processes that were previously shaped by state actors are thus opening to access by private individuals or NGOs. This participation creates transparency and thus increases legitimacy and promotes the enforcement of international protection standards. So far, this legitimacy has only been achieved indirectly at the national level through the electoral decisions of the citizen or through the influence of parliamentary laws. The extension of this legitimacy of executive decisions through citizen participation has far-reaching consequences for the relationship between state and citizen.

Nevertheless, even in international practice, often only representatives of NGOs are consulted. The contribution of participation to the democratic legitimacy of international administrative decisions is thus in need of clarification.

The aim of the project is to clarify the new legitimacy needs of national and international administrative activity and to determine the possibilities and limits as well as the criteria for reconnecting state administrative decisions with the citizen. On this basis, the project develops a modern theory of the (democratic) legitimation of executive decisions.

The first sub-project (research semester) refers to the democratic legitimacy of the German administration. To this end, it refers to the preconditions, requirements, and limits of and to participation as they arise under international, European and German law. For alternative approaches to the legitimation of administrative action through participation, it discusses approaches and solutions, such as those realised in French or Swiss law. Finally, it addresses the resulting necessary changes to the current administrative procedural law.

The second sub-project (Promotion) is dedicated to the democratic legitimacy of international administration. Using the example of environmental law, it clarifies the contribution of individuals and NGOs to international decisions with environmental relevance to the legitimisation of the exercise of international governance.

The project is funded by the Kurt von Fritz science programme THEORIA of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

SustaiNET

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SustaiNET is a network of young researchers from Germany, Italy and Norway who have dedicated their project to the question of how sustainability and participation can be classified with their legal characteristics and how they are connected. Since these two terms are currently being used as a kind of political and legal panacea in the field of environmental problems, the question of their classification arises more than ever. From general climate change to technical emission control law or urban planning, the terms are used without a more precise understanding of their specific legal characteristics. This applies above all to their dogmatic embedding and the concrete commandments as well as prohibitions associated with them.

Although the connection between the concepts is already evident in many existing regulations, it is necessary to explore to what extent, for example, participation can be understood as an instrument for fulfilling sustainability, or whether participation can even be an obstacle on the path to sustainability.  In order to clarify these questions, SustaiNET pursues an inductive, comparative functional law approach. The starting point is a comparative analysis of the connection and use of legal concepts in concrete reference areas (e.g. Food Law, Public Commercial Law, or Environmental Administrative Law), in which sustainability considerations have always played or are only recently beginning to play a role.

The aim of the network is

  • to highlight the meaning, content and, in particular, the relationship of the two concepts through their general language use,
  • to determine the specific meaning in the legal context in distinction to other disciplines (political science, philosophy, sociology, economics) and
  • to identify possible resulting legal obligations of the state, the authorities or even private actors.

The resulting publication should thus contribute to the development of a legal vocabulary in the thematic field of sustainability and participation and open up further research perspectives.

SustaiNet is funded by the DFG in the funding line "Netzwerke".