Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Mariangela La Manna | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milano | Italy 


September 16th 2022 | 15.00 – 16.30
Panel #11 | “Apocalypses and conflicts
Room G.127 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

A Close Enough Dystopia: International Law and Climate Change in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future

Dystopian literature has traditionally been dismissed as a somewhat low form of sci-fi entertainment for teenagers or, alternatively, for nerdy, scarcely mature grown-ups. However, many books labeled as ‘dystopian’ managed to grasp and address some among the most pressing challenges for policy-makers and scholars alike, thus stimulating a conversation on very sensitive dilemmas, both in ethical and political terms. Suffice it to mention Isaac Asimov’s I Robot, foreshadowing the risks of artificial interlligence, or Kazuo Ishiguro’ s Never Let Me Go, triggering a debate on the boundaries of scientific and medical progress against the backdrop of human dignity, not to mention Margaret Atwood’s The Handmmaid’s Tale, once again at the very centre of the conversation on reproductive rights. Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future is a welcome addition to the list, with its witty and intelligent depiction of the structural limitations of UN agencies before the challenge of climate change, and its dry account of the inefficient enforcement mechanisms provided for under international law to react to an internationally wrongful act, namely the blatant (and not so) fictional violation the 2015 Paris agreement. 

Mariangela La Manna is a Researcher in International Law at the Catholic University, where she also teaches International Law at the undergraduate level and International Human Rights Law in the ‘International Cooperation and Development’ Master’s programme. She has written on universal jurisdiction in the prosecution of international crimes, State immunity from foreign jurisdiction, self-determination of peoples etc. Her current research focuses on the relationship between corporations and climate change, from the perspective of both public and private international law.