international environmental law

Planet Earth as Desert Island: “Lord of the Flies” or “Gilligan’s Island”?

Or in more technical terms, the Tragedy of the Commons? Or its inverse?

Lord of the Flies is a memorable novel about a group of English schoolboys who are marooned on a desert island.  They quickly descend into savagery and violence. The book can be seen as a parable of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s view that human life in a state of nature is short, nasty, and brutish. But …

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International Liability for Harm: Epidemics and Pollution

What duties do countries have to avoid causing global harms?

There’s been talk lately of demanding compensation if a country’s negligence allowed a disease to spread globally. There is a long history of discussion regarding similar damage claims in international environmental law.  The same principles seem applicable to disease spread. In theory, damages should be available in both cases. The core principle of international liability …

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Things to Be Thankful For

Despite the Trump Administration’s efforts, there are rays of hope.

Three years into the Trump Administration, we’re now accustomed to waking up every morning to learn about a new attack on the environment.  But there are also some things to be thankful for. Here’s how I started a similar post in 2017, just a year after the 2016 election: “Overall, it’s been a pretty lousy …

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Climate Politics Down Under

Australia is leaping from the frying pan into the fire.

Australian climate politics has been strange if not chaotic.  And in terms of climate policy, things seems to be going from bad to worse. This is partly a function of general political upheaval. In an enlightening 2018 paper, three University of Melbourne law professors (Baxter. Milligan, and McRae) traced the developments from 2007 to 2016. …

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Weaponizing Water in Kashmir

India’s legal moves on water put Pakistan on edge

A month after India’s move to exert more direct control over Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian state that occupies part of the larger Kashmir region, the country is also now in a position to exert control – in both illegal and legal ways – over important river waters that Pakistan relies upon to sustain people …

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Guest Bloggers Will Martin and Michael P. Vandenbergh: Can Private Environmental Governance Address Nationalism’s Threat To International Environmental Law?

As Some Nations Retreat From Internationalist Approaches to Transnational Environmental Challenges, Corporate Actions May Play a Larger Role

The withdrawal by Japan from the International Whaling Convention and its related Commission in December 2018 and the on-off threat by the new leader of Brazil to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are the latest signals that International Environmental Law (“IEL”) is under siege. The move by Japan and the possible withdrawal …

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Japan Quitting the International Whaling Commission

Will resume commercial whaling in July 2019 but only in national waters

To the surprise of many, Japan has announced that it is formally withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whaling in July. Japan has long been a pariah at the IWC, denounced by many for conducting rogue whaling through the Scientific Permit exception of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling …

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Another Scary Election (But Not Here)

An election next Sunday has implications for the entire planet.

I hate to give you something else to freak out about in our current Age of Anxiety, but there’s a very worrisome presidential election next Sunday. No, I haven’t completely lost it – the presidential race isn’t here, it’s in Brazil.  The election pits a dangerous populist against a highly competent but colorless Establishment candidate. …

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Environmental Protection and the Rule of Law

A Report from the Second Inter-American Congress on Environmental Rule of Law

I am back from attending the Second Inter-American Congress on Environmental Rule of Law, hosted by the Supreme Court of Chile in Santiago and planned by the Organization of American States, UN Environment, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and other partners. For the past five years since the 2012 Rio+20 conference (20 years after the …

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France Pushes for Global Pact on the Environment

President Macron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and others support proposal for global environmental treaty

In Paris this past Saturday, a high-level group of legal experts endorsed a new proposal for a worldwide environmental treaty: the Global Pact on the Environment. President Emmanuel Macron of France gave the concluding speech at a launch event for the Pact (text and video in French); other speakers included former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Laurent Fabius …

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