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Samvel Varvastian

Dr Samvel Varvastian

Lecturer in Law

School of Law and Politics

Email
VarvastianS@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 29208 74341
Campuses
Law Building, Room 1.15, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I am a lecturer and a comparative legal scholar. I work on global environmental problems, public health, human rights and justice. I have published more than 20 scholarly works that explore law and policy issues in air pollution, plastic pollution, climate change, soil contamination, emerging medical technologies, food supplements and tobacco products. My work covers international law, European Union law and comparative national law. I am particularly interested in the role of courts in the development of law and the relationships between law and life sciences.

My work has received high-level international recognition and has been referred to by legislative, executive and judicial bodies around the world. I am also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, the leading scholarly platform in its field for both academics and practitioners.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I teach Comparative Law, Public Law, Tort, and Human Rights and Global Justice.

 

Publication

2023

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

Articles

Book sections

Conferences

Monographs

Thesis

Websites

Research

My research focuses on global environmental problems, public health, human rights and justice. I have published on a range of issues in these areas, including:

  • air pollution
  • plastic pollution
  • climate change
  • soil contamination
  • emerging medical technologies
  • tobacco products
  • food supplements
  • access to justice
  • risk regulation

My work covers international law, European Union law and comparative national law. I am particularly interested in the role of courts in the development of law and the relationships between law and life sciences. For example, my latest article examines the regulatory measures and court action on plastic pollution in over 30 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Uganda and the United States, as well as the European Court of Justice. Shortly after its publication, this article was cited by the Supreme Court of Mexico in a highly important decision concerning human rights and the environment, in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of the prohibition on the sale and distribution of virgin plastic bags, introduced by the state of Oaxaca in 2019.

My other work has also received high-level international recognition. For example, my article on the regulation of mitochondrial donation was cited in reports presented to the Council of Europe and the Parliament of Australia; my article on the EU air quality policy was cited by the Parliament of Ireland; and my article on the EU regulation of sports nutrition was cited by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia. My work has also been widely cited in academic books and articles published by major publishing houses such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Edward Elgar Publishing, Hart Publishing, Brill, Springer, and Palgrave Macmillan.

I regularly present my work to various academic and non-academic communities, including lawyers, environmental scientists and health professionals at national and international conferences in the UK and abroad. I also communicate my work to the wider public via The Conversation.

Selected publications

  • S Varvastian, 'The Role of Courts in Plastic Pollution Governance' (2023) 72(3) International & Comparative Law Quarterly 635-669, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020589323000179
  • S Varvastian, 'The Advent of International Human Rights Law in Climate Change Litigation' (2021) 38(2) Wisconsin International Law Journal 369-425, https://wilj.law.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1270/2021/06/38.2_369-425Varvastian.pdf
  • S Varvastian and F Kalunga, 'Transnational Corporate Liability for Environmental Damage and Climate Change: Reassessing Access to Justice after Vedanta v. Lungowe' (2020) 9(2) Transnational Environmental Law 323-345, https://doi.org/10.1017/S2047102520000138
  • S Varvastian, 'The Revised EU Air Quality Policy and Public Health', in Stefania Negri (ed.), Environmental Health in International and EU Law: Current Challenges and Legal Responses (London: Routledge, 2019) 83-96, https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429354694
  • S Varvastian, 'The Human Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment in Climate Change Litigation' (2019) Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper (19-09), https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3369481
  • S Varvastian, 'A Natural Resource Beyond the Sky: Invoking the Public Trust Doctrine to Protect the Atmosphere from Greenhouse Gas Emissions', in Helle Tegner Anker & Birgitte Egelund Olsen (eds), Sustainable Management of Natural Resources: Legal Instruments and Approaches (Cambridge: Intersentia, 2018) 121-135, https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780687834
  • S Varvastian, 'Climate Change and the Constitutional Obligation to Protect Natural Resources: The Pennsylvania Atmospheric Trust Litigation' (2017) 7(2-3) Climate Law 209-226, https://doi.org/10.1163/18786561-00702006
  • S Varvastian, 'Promoting Human Health and the Functioning of the Internal Market: The Reaffirmation of the Tobacco Products Directive’s Key Objectives in Poland v Parliament and Council, Pillbox 38 and Philip Morris Brands and Others' (2017) 23(2) European Public Law 271-283, https://doi.org/10.54648/euro2017017
  • S Varvastian, 'Access to Justice in Climate Change Litigation from a Transnational Perspective: Private Party Standing in Recent Climate Cases', in Jerzy Jendrośka & Magdalena Bar (eds), Procedural Environmental Rights: Principle X of the Rio Declaration in Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Intersentia, 2017) 481-502, https://doi.org/10.1017/9781780686998
  • S Varvastian, 'UK's Legalisation of Mitochondrial Donation in IVF Treatment: A Challenge to the International Community or a Promotion of Life-Saving Medical Innovation to Be Followed by Others?” (2015) 22(5) European Journal of Health Law 405-425, https://doi.org/10.1163/15718093-12341366
  • S Varvastian, 'A Review of EU Regulation of Sports Nutrition: Same Game, Different Rules' (2015) 16(5) German Law Journal 1293-1315, https://doi.org/10.1017/S2071832200021131
  • S Varvastian, 'Achieving the EU Air Policy Objectives in Due Time: A Reality or a Hoax?' (2015) 24(1) European Energy and Environmental Law Review 2-11, https://doi.org/10.54648/eelr2015001
 
 

Teaching

I teach the following modules:

  • Comparative Law (undergraduate)

I am the co-convenor of the Comparative Law module, which introduces students to the benefits and the challenges of comparison in legal studies. This module examines the major world legal traditions and the interactions between them, as well as the key areas of comparative law such as comparative constitutional law, comparative contract law and comparative criminal process.

  • Public Law (undergraduate)

This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of the constitution (such as the rule of law, separation of powers, and parliamentary sovereignty), the principal institutions of government, and the relationships between them, judicial review of government decisions, and the rights of individuals.

  • Tort (undergraduate)

The law of tort encompasses a number of civil wrongs (other than a breach of contract) for which the law allows a remedy. It allows those who have been injured to recover compensation. This module examines the principles, values and rules governing tortious liability and compensation.

  • Human Rights and Global Justice (postgraduate)

This module examines relationships between human rights and issues of contemporary global justice. The module draws on a range of diverse sources, in order to highlight systemic patterns of justice and injustice in the global age, and the role of human rights in these patterns.

Biography

I was appointed as a Lecturer in Law at Cardiff School of Law and Politics in 2021. I first joined the School in 2018 as a PhD researcher after securing the School of Law and Politics doctoral scholarship. I completed my PhD in 2022. My PhD thesis explored the use of human rights claims in climate change litigation.

In 2019, I joined the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment (JHRE) as the Managing Editor. The JHRE is widely regarded as the leading international scholarly platform in its field by both academics and practitioners: it is listed in the top 12% of all Law journals internationally by citation count (Scopus 2020) and regularly publishes works by some of the world’s leading experts in environmental law and human rights. In June 2023, I organised the first ever JHRE symposium, supported by Edward Elgar Publishing. The symposium was held in hybrid format and brought together a group of internationally leading senior and early career scholars from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.

Honours and awards

Teaching qualifications

  • 2023 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • 2021 Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Research awards

  • 2023 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment symposium organisation grant
  • 2020 University of Wisconsin-Madison conference presentation grant
  • 2020 University of Pennsylvania and International Association of Bioethics conference presentation grant
  • 2018 - 2022 Cardiff University School of Law and Politics PhD scholarship award
  • 2018 Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and Internationa Law conference presentation grant
  • 2018 University of Groningen and Catholic University of Leuven conference presentation grant
  • 2016 University of Edinburgh and International Association of Bioethics conference presentation grant

Professional memberships

I am a member of several prominent international bodies of experts that provide specialised knowledge and assistance to governments and non-governmental organisations, strengthening the legal foundations of environmental protection, public health, human rights, and sustainable development:

  • World Commission on Environmental Law
  • International Association of Bioethics
  • European Society of International Law
  • British Ecological Society
  • European Environmental Law Forum
  • European Scientific Network on Law and Tobacco

Academic positions

  • 2019 - 2021 Graduate Tutor, Cardiff University School of Law and Politics
  • 2018 - 2019 Widening participation and outreach tutor, Cardiff University

Speaking engagements

  • 'Introduction to the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment', Journal of Human Rights and the Environment Symposium, 22-23 June 2023, Cardiff University
  • 'The Role of Courts in Plastic Pollution Governance’, Plastics for Future Generations Conference, 14 June 2023, Cardiff University
  • ‘Environmental Crisis and Responsibility in the Anthropocene’, Václav Havel European Dialogues: Peace and Democracy in Crisis, 19 October 2022, Cardiff University
  • ‘Constitutional Rights-based Climate Cases in the United States: What Future After 10 Years of Litigation?’, 18th Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law – The Future of Environmental Law: Ambition and Reality, 28 June-2 July 2021, University of Groningen
  • ‘Constitutional Rights Claims in Climate Change Litigation’, Columbia University Sabin Center for Climate Change Law 9th Annual Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Law Scholarship, 20–21 May 2021, Columbia Law School
  • ‘Climate Change Litigation as a Means for Addressing Local Environmental Harms’, Center for Global Governance and Emerging Law roundtable Futures Roundtable Discussion on Oil Spills and Island States, 29 October 2020, Albany Law School
  • ‘Holding Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable for Climate Change’, Centre for Law, Regulation and Governance of the Global Economy conference Disruption, Decarbonization, Reparations, 2–3 September 2020, University of Warwick Law School
  • ‘The Advent of International Human Rights Law in Climate Change Litigation’, Wisconsin International Law Scholars Conference Limits and Potential of Human Rights in Pursuit of Climate Justice, 15 August 2020, Wisconsin Law School
  • ‘Judicial Approaches to Health-related Rights-based Claims in Climate Change Litigation’, University of Essex School of Law Human Rights Centre workshop Human Rights and Climate Change: From Conceptual to Practical Perspectives, 1 May 2020, University of Essex
  • ‘Intergenerational Climate Justice in Litigation before the US, the Canadian and the Swiss Courts’, King’s College London – University College London 5th Environmental Law Symposium, 21 February 2020, University College London
  • ‘What does the People’s Climate Case (T-330/18 Carvalho, 8th May 2019) tell us about the protection of fundamental rights before the EU courts?’, UACES Research Network on the Effective Enforcement of EU Law and Policy and the Centre for European Law and Governance workshop The Enforcement of EU Law and Policy, 4 November 2019, Cardiff University
  • ‘The Climate Necessity Defence and Judicial Opinions on Climate Change’, British Environmental Psychology Society Annual Conference The Future & How We Shape It, 16-17 September 2019, Cardiff University
  • ‘Climate Science in Courts: 30 Years of Experience’, UK Climate Impacts and Risk Assessment National Meeting, 11-12 September 2019, Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds
  • ‘The Potential of Citizen Science in US Climate Change Litigation’, British Ecological Society Conference Place-Based Citizen-Science for Wellbeing: Conceptual and practical understandings of ‘place’ for science and society, 14 August 2019, Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University
  • ‘Vedanta v. Lungowe: Strengthening Transnational Corporate Liability’, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Climate Litigation Workshop, 21 June 2019, the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • ‘Invoking the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment in Climate Change Litigation: An International Perspective’, European Society of International Law Conference Health and the Environment in International Law: Actors, Norms and Responsibilities, 17-18 October 2018, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
  • ‘Internationalizing Climate Change Liability Litigation’, 6th Annual European Environmental Law Forum Conference Environmental Loss & Damage: Attribution, Liability, Compensation and Restoration, 12-14 September 2018, University of Insubria
  • ‘The Evolution of Climate Science and Extreme Event Attribution: Are We on the Verge of Major Breakthrough in Climate Change Liability?’, 2018 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium The Transformation of Environmental Law and Governance: Innovation, Risk and Resilience, 4-6 July 2018, University of Strathclyde
  • ‘Tobacco Liability as a Role Model? In Search for Improving Legal Pathways to Tackle Climate Change’, Law and Noncommunicable Diseases: The crosscutting role of law in NCD control and regulating risk factors, 1 June 2018, University of Groningen
  • ‘The Developing Atmospheric Trust Litigation in the United States: Climate Change and the Constitutional Obligation to Protect Natural Resources’, 5th Annual European Environmental Law Forum Conference Sustainable Management of Natural Resources – Legal Approaches & Instruments, 1 September 2017, University of Copenhagen
  • ‘Access to Justice in Climate Change Litigation from Transnational Perspective: The Standing of Private Parties and NGOs in Recent Climate Cases’, 4th Annual European Environmental Law Forum Conference Procedural Environmental Rights: Principle X in Theory and Practice, 14-16 September 2016, Wrocław University
  • ‘Setting Specific Marketing Requirements for Emerging Medicinal Products and Medical Devices Incorporating Nanomaterials: Promoting Patient Safety or Hindering Development and Trade?’, 13th World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics, 14-17 June 2016, University of Edinburgh
  • ‘Climate Change Litigation, Liability and Global Climate Governance – Can Judicial Policy-making Become a Game-changer?’, Berlin Conference on Global Environmental Change Transformative Global Climate Governance après Paris, 23-24 May 2016, Free University of Berlin

Committees and reviewing

  • International Studies Research Unit steering committee
  • Cardiff Learning and Teaching Academy's Fellowships programme
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences research impact review committee
  • School of Law and Politics research seminars' organisation committee
  • School of Law and Politics PGR recruitment strategy committee
 
 
 

Supervisions

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of international law, constitutional law, human rights, environmental law and public health law. I particularly welcome projects that focus on law and policy in a comparative context and projects that explore the relationships between law and life sciences.

Specialisms

  • International and comparative law
  • Constitutional law
  • Environmental law
  • Medical and health law
  • Human rights and justice issues