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Chapter

This chapter argues that rule and principles of general international law concerning protection of the environment can be identified. It should not be forgotten that international environmental law is not a separate or self-contained field of law, and nor is it currently comprehensively codified or set out in a single treaty or body of treaties. It could be argued that international environmental law is merely the application of established rules, principles, and processes of general international law to the resolution of international environmental problems and disputes, without the need for creating new law, or even for developing old law. The chapter looks in detail at the issues around the expectations and realities of international environmental law.

Chapter

This chapter turns to some of the environmental rights and obligations which attach to individuals, corporations, and NGOs in international law. The chapter considers some alternative approaches to the implementation and enforcement of international environmental law. Relying less on interstate claims, or on mechanisms of international supervision, the development of human-rights approaches to environmental protection and the economic logic of the polluter-pays principle have made claims by individuals an increasingly attractive means of dealing with domestic or transboundary environmental problems. But the diversity of the issues needs emphasis in this context also. National remedies are not necessarily alternatives to the systems considered in the last chapter, but are more often complementary to it, and only in certain respects more useful. The variety of approaches now available for the resolution of international environmental disputes does indicate the increasing sophistication of the international legal system, the chapter argues.

Chapter

This chapter turns to issues related to fresh water. Fresh water is a finite resource and the more we pollute it, the more issues we have with its use. A sustainable supply of fresh water is vital to life. Historically, international water law was not particularly concerned with environmental problems. This chapter talks of ‘international watercourse’ which is a convenient designation for rivers, lakes, or groundwater sources shared by two mor more states. The law of international watercourses has for most of its history been concerned with the allocation and use of a natural resource of international significance, not with its conservation or environmental protection. While it can be asserted with some confidence that states are no longer free to pollute or otherwise destroy the ecology of a shared watercourse to the detriment of their neighbours or of the marine environment, definitive conclusions concerning the law in this area are more difficult to draw.

Chapter

This chapter examines the institutions of global governance responsible for formulating and implementing international environmental policy and law. It starts by defining global governance as a continuing process via which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated. This provides the environment where cooperative action may be taken. Global governance includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements. In this situation, there is no single model or form of global governance, nor is there a single structure or set of structures. Global governance, therefor, is a broad, dynamic, complex, process of interactive decision-making. The chapter also looks at the differences in international environmental policy and law today compared to when this book first published twenty-five years previously.

Chapter

This chapter provides an overview of the purpose of this book. It starts by saying what the book does not expect to do. The text does not intend to answer the question whether the law we have now serves the needs of environmental justice or fairness among nations, generations, or peoples. It does, however, attempt to show, inter alia, how international law has developed a framework for cooperation on environmental matters between developed and developing states; for the adoption of measures aimed at control of pollution and conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; for the resolution of international environmental disputes; for the promotion of greater transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making; and for the adoption and harmonization of national environmental law.

Chapter

This chapter looks at the number of ways that secure compliance with international environmental law can be employed. The more traditional approach to this subject is the familiar one of interstate claims for breach of international obligations, employing the variety of forms of dispute settlement machinery contemplated in Article 33 of the UN Charter. There are a number of disadvantages to enforcing international environmental law in this manner, particularly if it involves compulsory resort to judicial institutions. The chapter outlines these disadvantages which include the adverse effect on relations between the relevant states; the complexity, length, and expense of international litigation; the technical character of environmental problems, and the difficulties of proof which legal proceedings may entail, and uncertainty concerning jurisdiction and applicable law in legally complex disputes.

Chapter

This chapter looks, inter alia, at how international law has been used or could be used to help tackle the most significant environmental challenge of our time. This challenge is global climate change. Not many topics provide a good illustration of the importance of a globally inclusive regulatory regime focused on preventive and precautionary approaches to environmental harm—or of the problems of negotiating one on such a complex subject. Solutions to global climate change have not been easily forthcoming. The chapter looks at the efforts of the international regulatory regime to address these challenges by recourse to novel ‘market based’ mechanisms and differential treatment. An example is the post-Kyoto scheme for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through ‘nationally determined contributions’. In the end, the chapter argues, it is likely to be technology that enables us to grapple with the causes of climate change, not law, but law can drive technological change, as it has with ozone depletion and acid rain.