International Environmental Law

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Why I Can’t Sign the World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action

Saskia Stucki and colleagues have invited the readers of this blog to sign the “World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action”. I find myself unable to do so and I would like to share the reasons for this, in the spirit of civil academic debate that this blog has long promoted. The following raises what I believe to be some essential questions about the nature of our work as legal scholars and practitioners, especially for those of us interested in climate law. I do not dispute Stucki and colleagues’ assessment of climate science. I fully concur with them about the need for ambitious action against climate change, including through law. I also agree that “the active engagement of concerned citizens, activists [and] NGOs … is essential in order to demand new norms”. I agree that advocacy could play an important role in triggering action, and I could agree to sign citizens’ pledge for climate action. Yet, I can’t agree to sign a lawyers’ pledge for climate action. While…

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World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action: An Urgent Call for Climate Mainstreaming

The world is facing climate emergency, one of a series of overlapping and mutually reinforcing environmental crises. In 2017, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries signed the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, urging the world to take immediate action against the current trajectory of catastrophic climate change. We, as concerned lawyers, have heard the world…

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State Responsibility and the Global Environmental Crisis

This post explores some aspects of the ILC’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (‘ARSIWA’) as they concern the global environmental crisis. The understanding of environmental degradation has changed over time from a bilateral/horizonal issue to a community one. Even within the latter frame, the enormity of the challenge is now much better understood.

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«Ecocide» as an international crime: Personal reflections on options and choices

On 22nd June 2021, the “Independent Expert Panel for the legal Definition of Ecocide” – on which I had the honour to serve – launched a proposal for a legal definition of “ecocide” for the purpose of amending the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the addition of a 5th international crime. In the following,…

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The Proposed Definition of the Crime of Ecocide: An Important Step Forward, but Can Our Planet Wait?

Last week, an independent expert panel (“IEP”) published a proposed definition of ecocide as a potential fifth international crime to be added to the Rome Statute. The introduction of such a definition in the Rome Statute and placing crimes against the environment at the same level with “the most serious…

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