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Advanced Introduction to International Environmental Law

Ellen Hey

This Advanced Introduction provides both an overview and a critical assessment of international environmental law (IEL) written by one of the leading authorities in this field. An invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, the book pinpoints essential principles and institutions and distils the vast and often technical corpus of legal doctrine whilst also offering insights that stimulate critical thinking. Covering the origins, substantive content, institutional structure and accountability mechanisms of IEL, the book discusses substantive and procedural fairness, thus exploring questions of distributive justice, accountability and legitimacy. Providing an invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, this book will prove a useful resource for professors, practitioners and policy-makers needing to quickly gain an understanding of the core principles of this multi-faceted topic. It will also serve as a stimulating introductory text for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
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8 Conclusion: continuity and change

Ellen Hey


Having traced the development of international environmental law from its early beginnings in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, this book returns to one of its earlier themes: continuity and change (section 2.2). This chapter adopts a bird’s-eye perspective in taking stock of just over a century of international legal developments as related to the environment. It identifies salient continuities and changes in international environmental law and in doing so also marks some of the challenges that this body of law faces. This chapter considers the following themes: the relationship between developed and developing states; institutional fragmentation; emerging similarities between the roles of NGOs and private sector actors; linking the local and the global in regulatory approaches; and the role of third parties in considering compliance.

The relationship between developing and developed states is perhaps one of the most salient elements in the development of international environmental law. It can be characterized in terms of both continuity and change.

On the one hand nature protection in developing states, in Africa in particular, continues to be of concern to developed states and NGOs based in developed states, such as WWF. On the other hand WWF’s policy on CBNRM marks change in that it focuses on decision-making by and benefits for local populations (sections 2.3, 2.5). Similarly, the Nagoya Protocol requires the prior informed consent of and benefit sharing with indigenous and local communities when genetic resources or knowledge about these resources are accessed (section 4.5.6).


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