Environmental law is a complex body of law made up of global, international, national, state and local statutes, treaties, conventions, regulations and policies which seek to protect the environment and natural resources affected, impacted or endangered by human activities. The most important issue at this moment is climate change. Countries have recognized that climate change presents an ever growing threat to development, poverty eradication efforts, security and the welfare of their citizens. The impact of climate change is already being felt on every continent. Many political and military leaders around the world are now calling climate change the most serious threat to national security in the 21st century. Climate change has been called "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction". Experts and leaders everywhere agree that climate change has a multiplier effect increasing the impact of other existing threats. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to increase and on the present path, global temperature rise will far exceed the goal to limit of two degrees Celsius that countries have agreed upon to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit in September 2014. This Summit was attended by representatives of governments, business and civil society, resulting in a series of climate initiatives. In December 2014, in Lima, Peru, countries moved to advance the negotiations further under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At present, countries are discussing the legal nature of the agreement, the nature of the responsibilities and actions that each country will undertake, and mechanisms to review progress and to scale up action in the years ahead. From 30 November to 12 December, Paris hosted the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11). On 12 December, the parties reached a new global agreement on climate change. The agreement presents a balanced outcome with an action plan to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C.
The main elements of the new Paris agreement:
- long-term goal: governments agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C
contributions: before and during the Paris conference countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans to reduce their emissions
- ambition: governments agreed to communicate every 5 years their contributions to set more ambitious targets
- transparency: they also accepted to report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets, to ensure transparency and oversight
- solidarity: the EU and other developed countries will continue to provide climate finance to assist developing countries both to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts.
This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of International Environmental Law. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and subject heading (keyword) International Environmental Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
New titlesAs we are right in the middle of moving to a new library system, it is not yet possible to automatically collect new titles for this Research Guide.
- Dupuy, P. and E.J. Viñuales, International Environmental Law, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2018.
- Sands, P., Peel, J., Fabra, A. (etc.), Principles of International Environmental Law, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2018.
- Alam, S. (ed.), Routledge Handbook of International Environmental Law, London, Routledge, 2013.
- Banner, C., The Aarhus Convention : a Guide for UK Lawyers, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2015.
- Beyerlin, U. and T. Marauhn, International Environmental Law, Hart, 2011.
- Bodansky, D. and J. Brunnee (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Boer, B., The Aarhus Convention : a Guide for UK Lawyers, Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2015.
- Den Boer, Environmental law dimensions of human rights, The collected courses of the Academy of European law ; volume XXIII/1, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Kiss, A. and D. Shelton, Guide to International Environmental Law, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2007.
- Mosello, B., How to Deal with Climate Change? : Institutional Adaptive Capacity as a Means to Promote Sustainable Water Governance, Cham, Springer, 2015.
- Koivurova, T., Introduction to international environmental law, New York, NY, Routledge, 2014.
- Hunter, D., J.E. Salzman and D. Zaelke, International Environmental Law and Policy, New York, NY, Thomson Reuters/Foundation Press, 2011.
- Vinuales, J.E., The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development : a Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015.
Books and articles
- Quirico, O., Climate Change and Human Rights : an International and Comparative Law Perspective, London, New York, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Croup, 2016.
- Atapattu, S., Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change : Challenges and Opportunities, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY, Routledge, 2016.
- Romanin Jacur, F., Natural Resources Grabbing : an International Law Perspective, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.
- Rosenow-Williams, K., Organizational Perspectives on Environmental Migration, London, New York, Earthscan from Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016.
- Gouritin, A., EU Environmental Law, International Environmental Law, and Human Rights Law : the Case of Environmental Responsibility, Leiden, Boston, Brill, Nijhoff, 2016. (e-book)
- Christiansen, S.M., Climate Conflicts – a Case of International Environmental and Humanitarian Law, Cham, Springer, 2016. (e-book)
- Olawuyi, D.S., The Human Rights-based Approach to Carbon Finance, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Andresen, S., International Environmental Agreements: an Introduction, London, Routledge, 2012.
- Asselt, H. van, The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance: Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014.
- Benidickson, J. (ed.), Environmental Law and Sustainability after Rio, Cheltenham, Elgar, 2011.
- Borowy, I., Defining Sustainable Development for Our Common Future: A History of the World Commission on Environment and Development, London, New York, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2014.
- Burdon, P., Earth Jurisprudence : Private Property and the Environment, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.
- Chasek, P.S. and L.M. Wagner (eds.), The Roads from Rio: Lessons learned from Twenty-five Years of Multilateral Environmental Negotiation, New York, Routledge, 2012.
- Clifford, M. and T.D. Edwards (eds.), Environmental Crime. 2nd ed., Burlington, MA., Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.
- Dodds, F., From Rio+20 to a New Development Agenda: Building a Bridge to a Sustainable Future, London, New York, Routledge, Earthscan from Routledge, 2014.
- Dupuy, P., International Environmental Law, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Gupta, J., The History of Global Climate Governance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Guruswamy, L.D. and M.Z. Leach, International Environmental Law in a Nutshell, St. Paul, MN, Thomson/West, 2012.
- Jansen-Wilhelm, S., Accepting Assistance in the Aftermath of Disasters : Standards for States under International Law, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2015.
- Jessup, B. and K. Rubinstein (eds.), Environmental Discourse in Public and International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- Koivurova, T., Introduction to International Environmental Law, Milton Park; Abingdon; Oxon; New York, Routledge, 2014.
- Martin, P. (ed.), Environmental Governance and Sustainability, Cheltenham, Elgar, 2012.
- Norwine, J., A World After Climate Change and Culture-Shift, Dordrecht, Springer, 2014.
- Shawkat, A., International Environmental Law and the Global South, New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2015.
- Susskind, L.E., Environmental Diplomacy : Negotiating More Effective Global Agreements, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Steinberg, P.F., Who Rules the Earth? : how Social Rules Shape our Planet and our Lives, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Birnie, P.W. and A.E. Boyle (eds.), Basic Documents on International Law and the Environment, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995.
- Burhenne, W.E. (ed.), International Environmental Law: Multilateral Treaties, London, Kluwer Law International, 1995-...
- Burhenne, W.E. (ed.), International Environmental Soft Law: Collection of Relevant Instruments, Dordrecht, Nĳhoff, 1993.
- Hohmann, H. (ed.), Basic Documents of International Environmental Law, London, Graham & Trotman, 1992.
- Sands, P. and P. Galizzi (eds.), Documents in International Environmental Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- Scovazzi, T. and T. Treves (eds.), World Treaties for the Protection of the Environment, Milano, Istituto per l'Ambiente, 1992.
Periodicals, serial publications
- Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law
- Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy
- Comparative Environmental Law & Policy Series
- Environmental Law Review of Eastern & Central Europe
- European Energy and Environmental Law Review
- The Georgetown International Environmental Law Review
- International Environmental Agreements : Politics, Law and Economics
- International Environmental Law and Policy Series
- International Environmental Law Reports
- IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper
- Macquarie Journal of International and Comparative Environmental Law
- Review of European Community and International Environmental Law
- Yearbook of European Environmental Law
- Yearbook of International Environmental Law
- Munro, R.J., International Environmental Law: International Law Bibliography, New York, NY, Oceana, 1990.
- Templeton, V.E. and H.J. Taubenfeld, World Environment Law Bibliography: Non-Periodical Literature in Law and the Social Sciences published since 1970 in Various Languages with Selected Reviews and Annotations from Periodicals, Littleton, CO, F.B. Rothman, 1987.
Popovski, V., The Implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY, Routledge, 2019.View this title in our discovery service
In December 2015, 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, seen as a decisive landmark for global action to stop human- induced climate change. The Paris Agreement will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2020, and it creates legally binding obligations on the parties, based on their own bottom-up voluntary commitments to implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The codification of the climate change regime has advanced well, but the implementation of it remains uncertain. This book focuses on the implementation prospects of the Agreement, which is a challenge for all and will require a fully comprehensive burden- sharing framework. Parties need to meet their own NDCs, but also to finance and transfer technology to others who do not have enough. How equity- based and facilitative the process will be, is of crucial importance. The volume examines a broad range of issues including the lessons that can be learnt from the implementation of previous environmental legal regimes, climate policies at national and sub-national levels and whether the implementation mechanisms in the Paris Agreement are likely to be sufficient.
Mayer, B., The International Law on Climate Change, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
Global climate change is a topic of continuously growing interest. As more international treaties come into force, media coverage has increased and many universities are now starting to conduct courses specifically on climate change laws and policies. This textbook provides a survey of the international law on climate change, explaining how significant international agreements have sought to promote compliance with general norms of international law. Benoit Mayer provides an account of the rules agreed upon through lengthy negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and multiple other forums on mitigation, geoengineering, adaptation, loss and damage and international support. The International Law on Climate Change is suitable for undergraduate and graduate students studying climate, environmental or international law. It is supported by a suite of online resources featuring regularly updated lists of complementary materials and weblinks, and annually updated briefs for specific chapters.
McLeman, R. and F. Gemenne (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, Routledge, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration provides a state-of-the-science review of research on how environmental variability and change influence current and future global migration patterns and, in some instances, trigger large-scale population displacements. Drawing together contributions from leading researchers in the field, this compendium will become a go-to guide for established and newly interested scholars, for government and policymaking entities, and for students and their instructors. It explains theoretical, conceptual, and empirical developments that have been made in recent years; describes their origins and connections to broader topics including migration research, development studies, and international public policy and law; and highlights emerging areas where new and/or additional research and reflection are warranted.
Duyck, S., Jodoin, S. and A. Johl (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Human Rights and Climate Governance, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, Routledge, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
This book brings together leading scholars and practitioners to offer a timely and comprehensive analysis of the opportunities and challenges for integrating human rights in diverse areas and forms of global climate governance. The first half of the book explores how human rights principles and obligations can be used to reconceive climate governance and shape responses to particular aspects of climate change. The second half of the book identifies lessons in the integration of human rights in climate advocacy and governance and sets out future directions in this burgeoning domain. Featuring a diverse range of contributors and case studies, this Handbook will be an essential resource for students, scholars, practitioners and policy makers with an interest in climate law and governance, human rights and international environmental law.
Dupuy, P. and J.E. Viñuales, International Environmental Law, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
International Environmental Law offers a concise, conceptually clear, and legally rigorous introduction to contemporary international environmental law and practice. International Environmental Law covers all major environmental agreements, paying particular attention to their underlying structure, main legal provisions, and practical operation. It blends legal and policy analysis, making extensive reference to the jurisprudence and scholarship, and addressing the interconnections with other areas of international law, including human rights, humanitarian law, trade and foreign investment. The material is structured into four sections – foundations, substantive regulation, implementation, and influence on other areas of international law – which help the reader to navigate the different areas of international environmental law. Each chapter includes charts summarising the main components of the relevant legal frameworks and provides a detailed bibliography. Suitable for practicing and academic international lawyers who want an accessible, up-to-date introduction to contemporary international environmental law, as well as non-lawyers seeking a concise and clear understanding of the subject.
Sands, P., Peel, J., Fabra, A. (etc.), Principles of International Environmental Law, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
This new and fully updated edition of Principles of International Environmental Law offers a comprehensive and critical account of one of the fastest growing areas of international law: the principles and rules relating to environmental protection. Introducing the reader to the key foundational principles, governance structures and regulatory techniques, Principles of International Environmental Law explores each of the major areas of international environmental regulation through substantive chapters, including climate change, atmospheric protection, oceans and freshwater, biodiversity, chemicals and waste regulation. The ever-increasing overlap with other areas of international law is also explored through examination of the inter-linkages between international environmental law and other areas of international regulation, such as trade, human rights, humanitarian law and investment law. Incorporating the latest developments in treaty and case law for key areas of environmental regulation, this text is an essential reference and textbook for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, academics and practitioners of international environmental law.
Foreman, J. (ed), Developments in Environmental Regulation : Risk Based Regulation in the UK and Europe, Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
Developments in Environmental Regulation draws its focus on the effects of risk-based approaches to the environmental regulation of business and industry, including its impact on sustainable economic growth. The book also considers the challenges and potential opportunities that surround the UK’s withdrawl, or ‘Brexit’, from the European Union. This edited collection has been written by a group of highly experienced regulatory specialists whose insightful perspectives on key areas of environmental regulation are situated at the core of this work. This book will appeal to students and academics, policy-makers and environmental practitioners interested in understanding how environmental policy and regulation is applied and how it can be adapted to its political context.
Caranta, R., Gerbrandy, A. and B. Müller (eds.), The Making of a New European Legal Culture: the Aarhus Convention : at the Crossroad of Comparative Law and EU Law, Groningen, Europa Law Publishing, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
The Aarhus Convention entered into force more than 20 years ago. It lays down the pillars of environmental democracy, that is a governance systems where citizens and civil society organisations are fully involved in the decisions affecting the environment we all live in. On the one hand the Convention drew on the experience of those jurisdictions where environmental concerns run deeper. On the other hand, once enacted, it was expected to bring about important changes in those jurisdictions which were less sensible to these issues. As such, the Convention is an ideal testing ground upon where to study how legal principles, rules and institutions behave once they are moved from one jurisdiction to another and how the recipient jurisdiction reacts at receiving a transplant. The analysis from a legal cultural approach the law in the EU and 8 Member States provides a much richer picture about how the Aarhus Convention has been implement and what are the legal cultural enablers and obstacles to the full development of environmental democracy in different jurisdictions. Additionally, the research assesses how far is a common European legal culture developing in core areas not just of environmental, but of administrative and to a large extent of constitutional law? The book provides an updated coverage of the implementation of the Aarhus Convention at both EU level and in a relevant number of Member States and will be useful to academics and practitioners alike.
Rees, P.A., The laws Protecting Animals and Ecosystems, Oxford, Wiley Blackwell, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
There is currently no basic text in wildlife law suitable for the wide range of courses in wildlife conservation and animal welfare at both bachelors and masters level, or for the large number of people who work in conservation and animal welfare; The Laws Protecting Animals and Ecosystems fills the gap in this significant market for a basic law text applicable to students and professionals whose primary training is in biology but who require a basic understanding of the laws relating to the protection of animals and ecosystems. The text is applicable to a wide range of subjects, including wildlife conservation, animal handling, animal welfare, animal husbandry, and veterinary science.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Environment, International Protection, by U. Beyerlin and J. Grote Stoutenburg.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Conservation of Natural Resources, by U. Beyerlin and V. Holzer.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Earth Charter (2000), by K. Bosselmann.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Precautionary Approach/Principle, by M. Schröder.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Sustainable Development, by U. Beyerlin.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Climate, International Protection, by P.J. Sands and I. Millar.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Clean Development Mechanism, by P.J. Sands and I. Millar.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Biological Diversity, International Protection, by N. Matz-Lück.
Dutch Youth For Climate Change
Today, on 7th February, thousands of Dutch school children are demonstrating against climate change, missing a day of school in the process. The pupils are supporting the Youth for Climate NL campaign on Instagram, which was launched by school children at the Dalton school in The Hague. The campaign website, which invites donations to pay for banners, urges teenagers to ‘play truant for our future’. The youth wants the Dutch government to take more action against climate change.Read more
Indonesia Natural Disasters and Climate Change
The major devastating earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia is all over the news the last few weeks. And as if this wasn´t enough already, the vulcano Mount Soputan on Sulawesi island in Central Indonesia erupted days after the earthquake and tsunami. These disasters – and the continuing record of global temperatures – has again brought the attention to the growing field of climate change attribution, and the relation between climate change and extreme weather events. We have created a bibliographic overview on natural disasters and climate change, intended as a starting point for research. It provides materials available in the Peace Palace Library catalogue, both in print and electronic format.Read more
Bees at Risk: Near-total Ban of Neonicotinoids Backed by ECJ
On Thursday 17 May 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union backed a near-total ban of three pesticides, also called neonicotinoids (clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid), because of their scientifically proven serious harmful effect on the health of both wild bees and honey bees. Neonicotinoids are part of a class of insecticides that damage the central nervous system of insects that result in paralysis and death.
Bayer and Syngenta, the manufacturers of these three types of insecticides went to the Court in 2013 to stop the ban of these chemicals. But the Court dismissed “in their entirety the actions brought by Bayer and Syngenta in relation to the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid.”
After an extensive updated assessment which was based on more than 1,500 studies, involving wild bees (bumblebees, solitary bees) and honeybees, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that these three insecticides are harmful for bees. These pesticides can no longer be used in the open field but their use is still allowed inside permanent greenhouses.Read more
'Make our planet great again'. The impact of Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement
On 1 June 2017 Donald Trump, President of the United States of America (USA) announced that the USA would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement: “We’re getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.” The Paris Climate Agreement which aims at limiting and mitigating the effect of climate change, is an agreement which builds upon the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Trump’s decision has been scorned and condemned by many.Read more
HELF Lecture: ‘Landmark US Federal Climate Lawsuit – From a Legal and Socio-Political Perspective’
On Tuesday May 16th, 2017, the third Hague Environmental Law Facility (HELF) Lecture brought attention to a pending case between American Youth Groups and the Federal Government of the United States of America. The complaint of the American Youth Groups, age 9 to 20, asserts that through the US Governments’ affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources. Last November, a US Court issued a historic ruling denying the US Government and fossil fuel industry’s motions to dismiss the constitutional climate change lawsuit. This means the Youth Groups have legal standing in this case because their rights are at stake. The case is now headed to trial.Read more
Library Lecture - 'Landmark US Federal Climate Lawsuit – From a Legal and Socio-Political Perspective'.
The Peace Palace Library has the pleasure to announce the third HELF Lecture, titled ‘Landmark US Federal Climate Lawsuit – From a Legal and Socio-Political Perspective’. On Tuesday May 16, 2017, the third Hague Environmental Law Facility (HELF) Lecture will take place in the Academy Building of the Peace Palace. The HELF Lecture, a joint effort of four organizations in The Hague, will bring attention to a pending case between American Youth Groups and the Federal Government of the United States. The complaint of the American Youth Groups, age 9 to 20, asserts that through the US Governments’ affirmative actions in causing climate change, it has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.Read more
Marrakech Climate Change Conference 2016
The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) is being held in Marrakech, from November 7 to 18, 2016. This international climate conference will focus on action items in order to achieve the priorities of the Paris Agreement, especially related to adaptation, transparency, technology transfer, mitigation, capacity building and loss and damages. Signatories to The Paris Agreement now have to develop their National Adaptation Plans.Read more
Paris Global Climate Agreement: Toward Entry into Force
On 21 September 2016, a special event will take place. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders from all countries to the UN Headquarters in New York from 8:00-9:00am to attend this event and to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Climate Agreement on climate change. The event will provide an opportunity to countries to publicly commit to joining or ratifying the agreement before the end of 2016. It is expected that the September event will help efforts to secure early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.Read more
Vessel-Source Air Pollution Remains Global 'Blindspot'
Shipping is considered to be a significant source of global air pollution, both for conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases. Sulphur and black carbon, also called soot, are released in the air in large quantities because large (container and cruise) ships use heavy bunker oil. This is oil from the waste well of the oil industry, the cheapest and dirtiest thing you can get. Seventeen containerships emit as much sulfur as all the cars on the planet in one year. And one cruise ship emits a day as much soot as one million cars.Read more
30 Years After Chernobyl - Nuclear Safety and Security
The Chernobyl nuclear tragedy had a tremendous impact on the global community. This nuclear disaster has changed the attitude of nations to nuclear safety. After the nuclear accident, new standards and strategies for improving nuclear and radiation safety, emergency response and disaster mitigation have been developed. Since the Chernobyl accident the International Atomic Energy Association has adopted many security related legal instruments have been adopted to increase nuclear safety and security on a global and domestic level.Read more
Royal Sperm Whales and More
Has any mammal inspired such romantic images of the sea and love for nature as much as the whale, yet aroused such controversy in global environmental conservation? Legal efforts to protect whales, however, extend beyond whaling issues. Even beyond protection itself. What about legal arrangements dealing with such large marine mammals found stranded on the shoreline? This so-called phenomenon of Cetacean stranding certainly is something that arouses public interest and emotion.Read more
Coral Reefs under Threat?
Are coral reefs condemned to disappear? During the first decade of the 21st century, the intensification of cyclones, the phenomenon of coral bleaching due to ocean warming, outbreaks of a coral-eating starfish and coral diseases left us with this fear. In terms of addressing knowledge gaps, coral reefs are a priority because of their extraordinarily high biological richness and the multitude of products and ecosystem services they provide to human beings. What is the status and legal regime of coral reefs nowadays?Read more
Investigating Foreign Political Links in Timber-Producing Countries
At the time of writing, it is the International Day of Forests. It is on this day, 21st March 2016, that Project LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) of INTERPOL spoke out (again) about the link between corruption and the global trade in timber. An estimated $30 billion of government revenue is lost every year as a result of corruption in timber trade. This article will shed light on the indiscriminate destruction of our forests, under the guise of economic development for the financial benefit of elites at the highest level of the political system and how international, regional and national laws on anti-corruption are implicated.Read more
Save Wildlife: Act Now or Game Over!
From 1-3 March 2016, 300 Representatives from Countries, Intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, business representatives and the broader civil society were gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands for the international wildlife conference: Save Wildlife: Act now or Game over. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, the Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit. The conference has build on the London and Kasane Conferences on the illegal wildlife trade, and has set the stage for the Hanoi Conference, due to take place later in 2016.Read more
South-Africa and the Future of (Il)legal Trade in Rhino Horn
On Sunday 22 November, zookeepers of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park put a 41-year old northern white rhinoceros named Nola to sleep. With the death of Nola, there are only three northern white rhinos left on the planet – which are unlikely to reproduce. Widespread poaching, as well as armed conflict, caused the extinction of northern white rhinos in the wild. Last Thursday, the High Court of Pretoria, South Africa, overturned the government’s ban on the domestic trade in rhino horn which was put in place in 2009.Read more
Climate Change and Planetary Security
On 2 and 3 November 2015, experts of the Hague Centre of Strategic Studies attended in the international conference on “Planetary Security: Peace and Cooperation in Times of Climate Change and Global Environmental Challenges” at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands organized this Planetary Security Initiative. The Netherlands aims to facilitate events on an annual basis and like to provide a regular time and place where experts, organizations, and decision makers could assemble, share, connect and strengthen their parts of the new strategies needed for the future of planetary security.Read more
The Impact of Offshore Oil Drilling in the Arctic
In July 2015 the Obama administration has given Royal Dutch Shell PLC approval to begin with limited exploratory oil drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, in the Chukchi Sea. The permits were granted despite the nationwide protest (where people in 13 states gathered for a “ShellNo” Day of Action) and protests by many environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth. In this blog I will give a summary of the history of Arctic drilling and I will also discuss shortly the environmental concerns and technological and safety risks relating to offshore oil drilling in the Arctic.Read more
A Green Court in The Netherlands: Stichting Urgenda v. The Netherlands
On the 24th of June 2015, the civil section of the Dutch court of The Hague, the Netherlands, ordered the Dutch government to adjust its environmental policies in order to reduce the collective greenhouse emissions of the Netherlands by 25% compared to 1990 by the end of 2020. News of this unusual judgment spread across the globe as it was the first time that a court ordered a government to step up its game on climate change. This post will provide readers with a summary of the judgment, as well as some thoughts on its merits.Read more
"All Animals Are Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others": Animal Protection and Animal Welfare Legislation Compared
Animals are treated in an ambivalent way. On the one hand humans cuddle, love and pamper the animals they keep. On the other hand many animals are being a victim of some kind of abuse. Not all animals are equally protected against animal cruelty. It differs per country and it depends on the status of different kinds of animals. Dogs which are used in research or for food are not equally protected from inhumane treatment as companion dogs are. The way how animals are treated is also dependent on cultural norms and beliefs.Read more
Paardenmarkt: A Toxic Legacy of the Great War
Countries that in the past have chosen to take the easy way out by disposing their chemical warfare material by ocean dumping are now realizing the unpleasant fact that this material, although out of sight, is not out of mind because it presents threats to public health and the environment. Here, the example of one of the largest World War I ammunition dump sites in Europe, the Paardenmarkt, a narrow submerged sand-bank called off the coast of Belgium.Read more
International Wildlife Law and the Problem of Illegal Trade
The hunt for endangered species and protected wildlife has been on the rise for the last decade and has recently become a global crisis. Many wildlife species are currently on the brink of extinction, especially on the African continent. In large part, this is mostly due to practices of illegal hunting and poaching for purposes of illegal wildlife trade. This blog will briefly discuss this issue as well as recent efforts of the international community to combat international wildlife trade.Read more
Tuvalu, Quo Vadis?
Climate change damage in the South Pacific is a problem for all small island developing states, including Tuvalu. These island states may become uninhabitable within the foreseeable future. What about the maritime boundaries and maritime claims of the former (Tuvalu) sea territory, which options do Tuvaluans have here? Does a disappearing Tuvalu have international repercussions? Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands) comprises a cluster of nine islands, plus islets, located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean just south of the Equator. These remote atolls are situated about 1,050 km (650 mi) n of Suva, Fiji, and 4,000 km (2,500 mi) of Sydney, Australia. Tuvalu has a coastline of 24 km (15 mi). As a rather small archipel Tuvale possesses considerable maritime claims on fishing grounds and natural resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.Read more
Ivory Traffickers! How Inventive Can You Get?
During an inspection of the luggage of two South Africans last month, officials in Chinese-ruled Macau found 15 suspiciously heavy boxes of chocolate. The boxes appeared to be pieces of elephant tusks with an estimated market value of more than $76,000 U.S. dollars. Apparently ivory smugglers are getting more inventive.Read more
Shell and Ogoni People : (s)oil pollution in the Niger Delta
On January 30, 2013, the court (Rechtbank) in the Hague, The Netherlands, ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held partially responsible for pollution in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region and ordered it to pay damages to one farmer. The Dutch court dismissed four out of five allegations of the Ogoni people against the oil company. Although Shell blames the oil pollution to sabotage, activists say the case could set a precedent for damage claims related to the foreign activities of multinational companies.Read more
The Institute for Environmental Security
Promoting security, peace and justice for man and nature by preventing environmental degradation and by restoring environmental damage where done, defines the programme of the Institute for Environmental Security (IES).Read more
From Stockholm to Rio de Janeiro; the road to a sustainable world!
Forty years after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and twenty years after the first “Earth Summit” held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, the world community will meet again. This time at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), in short Rio+20: “the future we want”.Read more
Fighting the Architecture of Death
Nowadays nature is threatened by all kinds of dangers which usually have one common denominator: they are caused by humans. Everyday human activity is affecting wildlife in many ways, such as habitat destruction, the use of pesticides, monoculture, genetically manipulated organisms and pollution, which is driving many species towards extinction. For birds, habitat loss is the most important factor closely followed by threats posed by materials used to build in the construction industry. The trend among architects is to use plate glass in building, purely for aesthetic reasons.Read more
Keeping Your Head Above Water: The Pacific Islands & The Rising Tide Of International Climate Litigation
On February 3rd, Johnson Toribiong, the President of the Pacific Island Nation Palau, announced that his country will seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague regarding the issue of climate change. This blog will briefly discuss the measures that states in these circumstances can invoke during a court procedure.Read more
Plastic Soup – What Legal Response to Marine Debris Pollution ?
Solving the problem of marine debris and plastic pollution in the World’s oceans is a very complex and challenging enterprise. In particular, its legal framework. Various international and regional instruments, domestic and local laws and regulations apply directly or indirectly to marine debris pollution. The conspicuously global nature of this problem indicates that a potential role of significance is reserved for international environmental law. However, not all international and regional instruments are legally binding, and not all have a strong focus on marine debris and plastic pollution.Read more
Bees under Bombardment : Time for Plan Bee
Current scientific evidence demonstrates that a sixth major extinction of biological diversity event is underway. The Earth is losing between one and ten percent of biodiversity per decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pest invasion, pollution, climate change, over-harvesting and disease. Certain natural ecosystem services, which are vital for human societies, are under stress.Read more
- Center for International Environmental Law
- Environmental Crime - INTERPOL
- Environment Law Centre - IUCN
- European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime
- Guide to World Environmental Law, by Hieros Gamos
- International Environmental law: Electronic Research Guide, by Anne Burnett
- International Environmental Law Research
- International Environmental law Guide
- UPDATE: a Basic Guide to International Environmental Legal Research, by Heidi Frostestad Kuehl
More Research guides on Special Topics
- Air and Space Law
- Cultural Heritage
- Food and Health
- Law of the Sea
- Polar Regions