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Environmental change and international law: New challenges and dimensions

Table of contents

Edited by
Edith Brown Weiss

United Nations University Press

The United Nations University, 1992

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations University.

United Nations University Press
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ISBN 92-808-0818-4
United Nations Sales No. E.92.III.A.5
04000 P

This book is dedicated to the memory of Edward Ploman

Edward Ploman, known to colleagues and friends as Eddi, served as the Vice-Rector of the Global Learning Division of the United Nations University from 1982 to 1986. He was keenly interested in global environmental issues and in the role that international law could play. At the time of his death, he was a member of the group contributing to this book. The draft of his contribution to the book is contained in appendix A.


Note to the reader from the UNU


List of abbreviations


1. Global environmental change and international law: the introductory framework

I. Trends in global environmental change
II. The development of international environmental law
III. Themes
IV. Important future themes
V. Organization of the book

Issues in international environmental law

2. International norm-making

A. The international legislative process
B. Steps in the treaty-making process
C. The creation of customary law
D. The creation of soft law
E. Concluding remarks

3. Changing requirements for international information

Changing environmental information requirements
Better understanding of environmental conditions and trends
International environmental impact assessments?
Information to strengthen international agreements
Ecosystem and resource information with policy implications
The precautionary principle
A new regime for sustainable development
Recent developments
Looking ahead

4. Emerging principles and rules for the prevention and mitigation of environmental harm

1. Significance and role of principles and rules of prevention and mitigation
2. Traditional norms, principles, and rules
3. Characteristics of global environmental change
4. Double-track approach as a treaty-making technique
5. Emerging principles and rules of prevention and mitigation
6. Toward an international management of global environmental change

5. State responsibility, liability, and remedial measures under international law: new criteria for environmental protection

1. The evolving law of state responsibility
2. New environmental realities and their impact upon the law
3. Conceptual developments and the new basic principle of international law
4. The expanding scope of the law: global reach and international cooperation
5. Material changes in the law of state responsibility
6. Expanding the protection of the affected interests
7. Liability for acts not prohibited by international law: the ongoing debate
8. The expanding role of practice: substantive and procedural developments
9. The protection of the marine environment: a leading case of innovation
10. The Antarctic environment: developing a comprehensive regime for responsibility and liability
11. The new law of state responsibility: improvement and caution
12. Avoiding environmental degradation and opposing the world ecological government: a conclusion

6. Law and global environmental management: some open issues

The point of departure
International preventive norms and mechanisms
Compensatory remedies: gaps and trends in international law
Enforcement: deterrence: incentives and disincentives
Future outlook

7. The legislation and implementation of international environmental law and the third world: the example of China

An overview of international environmental legislation and its implementation
The status of third-world states in international environmental legislation and its implementation
Some personal views and suggestions to encourage a more positive role of the third world in the legislation and implementation of international environmental law
Appendix: a case-study: China's positive attitude toward the adoption and implementation of international environmental legislation

International human rights law and environmental problems

An introductory note on a human right to environment


8. The human rights system as a conceptual framework for environmental law

Environmental issues
Environmental rights in the context of the natural order
Duty to future generations
The concept of "the common concern of mankind"
The protection of indigenous peoples
Environmental rights and international refugee law
Substantive norm-making and enforcement procedures

9. The contribution of international human rights law to environmental protection, with special reference to global environmental change

I. The growth of human rights protection and environmental protection: from internationalization to globalization
II. The incidence of the temporal dimension in environmental protection and in human rights protection
III. The fundamental right to life at the basis of the ratio legis of international human rights law and environmental law
IV. The right to health as the starting-point towards the right to a healthy environment
V. The right to a healthy environment as an extension of the right to health
VI. The protection of vulnerable groups at the confluence of international human rights law and international environmental law
VII. The recognition of the right to a healthy environment: The concern for environmental protection in international human rights instruments
VIII. Concern for the protection of human rights in the realm of international environmental law
IX. Concern for the protection of the environment in the realm of international humanitarian law
X. Protection of the environment and international refugee law
XI. The question of the implementation (mise en oeuvre) of the right to a healthy environment
XII. The right to a healthy environment and the absence of restrictions in the expansion of human rights protection and environmental protection

Future directions in international regimes

10. The implications of global change for the international legal system

The impact of global change on different functions in international law
The impact of global change on international structures

11. Restructuring the international organizational framework

A. The current structure
B. Some objectives of and constraints on possible improvements
C. Changes to be considered
D. Conclusion
Annex: The learning capacity of international organizations

12. Intergenerational equity: a legal framework for global environmental change

I. The temporal dimension in international law
II. Alternative approaches to intergenerational equity
III. Principles of intergenerational equity
IV. Intergenerational rights and obligations
V. Implementation of intergenerational equity

13. Ecological security: response to global challenges

I. Conceptual paradigm
II. Legal regime
III. Principles


A. Global learning: concept and applications

I. Introduction: antecedents
II. Approaches to global learning
III. Global learning: facilitation and obstacles
IV. Content of global learning

B. Chronological index of selected international environmental legal instruments
C. Contributors