CV | Current Project 

Research Interests

Comparative law, international human rights law, international environmental law, sustainable development law, environmental constitutionalism, environmental democracy, legal anthropology, environmental anthropology, political ecology

Research Areas

Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe


Dr. iur. Mario G. Aguilera Bravo is the coordinator of the Research Group “Environmental Rights in Cultural Context” (ERCC) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology - Halle (Saale), Germany, and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute.

Mario is an expert in international environmental law, sustainable development law, international human rights law, and international cooperation in environmental matters. Mario’s research interests include ecosystem governance, environmental rights, environmental democracy, and environmental justice from the Global South’s perspectives; law and equality in the Anthropocene; bio-legal approaches to environmental law and policy (Rights of Nature and Earth jurisprudence); and the protection of the rights of persons and groups in vulnerable situations in the context of natural resources governance, including particularly the rights of indigenous and local communities, as well as of environmental defenders.

His current postdoctoral research concentrates on understanding the complexities of indigenous customary law concerning the relations between humans and Nature and developing cross-cultural translations of diverse notions of environmental justice, based on an interdisciplinary approach (law & anthropology).

Mario obtained his PhD (summa cum laude) from the University of Göttingen, Germany. In his thesis titled “Human Rights and the Environment in Latin America and the Caribbean: Environmental Human Rights under the American Convention on Human Rights and the Escazú Agreement on Access Rights”, Mario explains the origins, nature, meaning, scope, and dimensions of the environmental human rights contained in these two legal instruments. He also examines the interactions between both regimes, and identifies specific complementarities and tensions, possible avenues to harmonize potential conflicts, and their effects on the interpretation of the states’ environmental obligations. Against this background, Mario defines the contours of the regional framework on environmental rights, identifies its most innovative features, and discusses how such developments contribute to current sustainable development debates beyond the regional scope.

Mario is a fully qualified lawyer (Ecuador) with a Master’s degree in Law (LL.M.) from the University of Göttingen, Germany), a Master’s degree in Legal Sciences (LL.M.) from the Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, and a Bachelor’s degree in Law (B.A.) from the Catholic Pontifical University of Ecuador. He was also a visiting researcher at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Mario’s academic credentials include the granting of three scholarships from the Göttingen Graduate School of Social Sciences, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Spanish Carolina-Foundation. He also successfully participated in international competitions on Human Rights (best memorials in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition, American University, U.S.; and, in the Ibero-American International Law and Human Rights Competition, Francisco Suárez, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia).

Mario has also held relevant professional positions, both in an advisory and a litigation context, including serving in an advisory function for the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (General Directorate for Refugees), and Ecuador’s National Assembly (Commission of Biodiversity and Natural Resources).

Mario is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment, the Law and Society Association, the Latin American Studies Association, the European Society of International Law, the European Environmental Law Forum, and the Ecuadorian Bar Association. He also serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Goettingen Journal of International Law.

Mario was a capoeira instructor in Ecuador and has been engaged with sports programs that aim to foster social inclusion amongst young people at social risk.

Why Law & Anthropology?

Anthropology makes visible the incompleteness of Western-centric, generalising normative theories and cartographies by confronting legal concepts, principles, and rules with specific empirical realities. In concrete terms, applying anthropological research methods, such as the ethnographic enquiry, and the implementation of various tools of data collection, including participant observation, enables us to identify both the desirable and undesirable implications of prevailing legal conceptualizations, to revisit the limits of state-law representation and implementation, and to recognize complementary and divergent local conceptions of law. The contrast between legal orders, actors, and practices raises more abstract questions concerning what the law is and what the future of law should be.

The practical consequences of interdisciplinary work and the use of a multi-method approach must thus not be underestimated. Empirical research applied to identify and bridge multiple legal conceptualizations at local levels may not merely consist in criticizing badly designed law and policy which contradicts their own normative premises of equality and distributive social justice in the context of multicultural, pluralistic, and democratic societies. It may require accepting the normative force of context, the existence of a fragmented plural legal framework, and consequently the need for a mutual cross-cultural dialogue to reconceptualize prevailing legal theories and reconfigure the normative cartography used to represent and regulate a society.

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