Empowering Small Island States Through Eco-Legal Reform

Lawyers for Trees is an ecological movement and peace initiative that assists small island developing states with “greening” their laws and constitutions.

About Us

We at Lawyers for Trees believe that human beings should treat Nature with the same regard that we do human life. The Earth is our home, just as a single tree can be a home for thousands of living organisms.

Our aim is to help individuals, communities, civil society, businesses and governments to develop green legislation which are consistent with human beings living in harmony with Nature. In this regard, we advise Caribbean governments on drafting “Rights of Nature” legislation, green constitutional reform and on Ecocide”.

Our Philosophy

Our goal is to promote the law not only as rules which govern the social interaction among human beings but also as a philosophy that is entangled with other living species.

Our mission is to define how we could use the law to make “Peace with the Earth” and to ensure that future generations have acquired a planet that is sustainable and liveable.

Our Projects

Lawyer for Trees is a team of Caribbean trained lawyers and experts, which have been working very closely with the government of the Pacific island state of Vanuatu on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion on climate change. At Lawyers for Trees, we believe that local problems require local solutions. As a result, we are engaged in providing technical advice, expertise, and legal representation to CARICOM (Caribbean Community) states at the ICJ during these historic proceedings.

The deadline date for states to submit written statements on the legal question before the ICJ in is 22 March 2024. If you are interested in helping us with this project please get into touch!

Our book Reflections on Earth Trusteeship, which was co-edited by Justin and Hans van Willenswaard, was presented to the Peace Palace Library (which services the ICJ) at The Hague in June 2023.

Our Founder and CEO (Chief Ecological Officer)

Justin Sobion is a graduate from the University of the West Indies and the Hugh Wooding Law School. He was admitted to practise law in Trinidad and Tobago (2002) and Dominica (2008).

After spending some time in private law practice, Justin worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat serving as the First Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Justin went on to serve as an Associate Human Rights Officer at the Office of the President of the UN Human Rights Council.

Justin holds Master’s Degrees in International Law (University of Cape Town, South Africa) and in Environmental Law (University of Auckland, New Zealand). He is currently teaching and researching for his PhD in Environmental Law at the University of Auckland.

Our Litigation Specialist

Faye Finisterre demonstrates charisma, confidence and a poignant commitment to her practice as a civil attorney. Finisterre’s concentration is in civil litigation, operating for both commercial and private clients, and to other attorneys as a litigation consultant. She is detail oriented and her instincts have been sharpened by twenty-one years in the field. Her approach to her work is progressive, assertive and creative. She holds an LL.M in International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, qualifying certificates for the STEP Diploma in International Trust Management as well as a postgraduate Diploma in Telecommunications Regulations and Policy from UWI St Augustine Faculty of Engineering. Faye is called to the bar in England, St. Lucia, Barbados and New York State.

Our Legal Adviser (Climate Change & Trade)

Dr Jan Yves Remy is the Director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law,Policy and Services, the premier trade institution of the University of the West Indies (UWI),Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

Jan Yves holds an LLB from UWI, a Masters from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD from theGraduate Institute of Development Studies. She previously worked as Senior Associate at Sidley Austin LLP (Geneva and Washington DC) and before that as Legal Officer at the Appellate Body of the WTO in Geneva.

Her areas of research include: international and regional trade dispute settlement regimes, climate change and trade, WTO reform and regional integration and investment policy, in particular, how they affect small island developing states including those in the Caribbean.

Our Legal Adviser (International Climate Law and Governance)

Rueanna Haynes is an international climate law and governance specialist, and TEDx 2020 speaker, with over a decade of experience in the UN Climate process. A former Trinidad and Tobago diplomat, Rueanna has negotiated for the Caribbean Community as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, including in the development of the sustainable development goals. At present, she is Senior Legal Adviser at Climate Analytics and Director of the Climate Analytics Caribbean office in Trinidad and Tobago. Rueanna provides strategic, technical and diplomatic advice to island states in climate change negotiations, as well as training for officials new to the UN Climate process.

Our Legal Adviser (Ecocide and Climate Change)

Caroline Mair-Toby is the founding Director for the Institute for Small Islands and an Attorney at Law at Mair and Company in Trinidad. She is the Caribbean lead for the Ocean for Ecocide Law Network, a partnership between Stop Ecocide International and Gallifrey Foundation. Caroline has been advising Small Island Developing States and Indigenous Peoples at the climate negotiations (COP/UNFCCC processes ) since 2011.

Caroline holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Queen Mary, University of London, a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional and Legal Skills from the Inns of Court School of Law, and a Master of Laws Degree in International Environmental Law from the Inns of Court School of Law. She is called to the Bar of England and Wales and Trinidad and Tobago.

Our Rights of Nature Adviser

Jessica den Outer has a background in environmental law and has been involved in the international movement for Rights of Nature since 2017. Den Outer has contributed to United Nations Dialogues on this subject and, together with other young people, set up an advisory group on Rights for Nature called Earth Advocacy Youth. In the Netherlands, she also advocates for the recognition of Rights for Nature and she is involved in various campaigns. She won several prizes for her commitment to nature. In 2019, den Outer was appointed by the United Nations as one of the youngest experts in this field. Her Dutch book ‘Rights of Nature’ (Lemniscaat) was published in the spring of 2023, in which she tells the stories behind examples of Rights of Nature around the world.

Our Researcher On The Environment & Future Generations

Kara is a French national with Trinidadian and Guadeloupean roots. She completed her undergraduate degree at Sciences Po, Paris, with a major in Politics and Government. For her studies she spent two years in France and her final year on exchange in Singapore. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Peace and Security at King’s College, London. Her areas of interest include international law, environmental security, and race relations.

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