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Note to the reader from the UNU

The United Nations University's programme on Human Dimensions of Global Change recognizes that environmental changes have reached new levels of global complexity and that a need exists to cope more comprehensively with the human interactions that are helping to shape these changes. The objectives of the programme are: (1) to increase awareness of the complex dynamics governing human interaction with the Earth as a whole system; (2) to strengthen efforts to anticipate social change affecting the global environment; (3) to analyse policy options for dealing with global environmental change; and (4) to identify broad social strategies to prevent or mitigate undesirable impacts of global environmental change.

As part of this programme, the UNU's project on International Law and Global Change was undertaken to help further the development and application of international law in a changing global environment. The main objectives of the project are to assess the impact of environmental changes on international law, make proposals on how existing legal norms may be adapted to the changing conditions and what new ones are needed, as well as develop and analyse different possible scenarios and their likely impact.

This book addresses issues relating to the changing role of international law and includes topics such as the emerging principles of prevention and mitigation, the implementation of environmental law and the third world, risk assessment, international organizational restructuring, state responsibilities, and quality. Particular focus is given to the need to anticipate approaches to international law for the prevention of environmental harm and the role scientific information can play in establishing cross-national agreements.

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