Chapter 10: Rules in the form of human rights
International environmental law was based originally upon the principle of sovereignty and the principle of pacta sunt servanda. These are essentially rules of competence. During the twentieth century the exercise by states of these rights was increasingly modified by rules of limitation. These included the obligation to take into account the rights of other states; the obligation to cooperate with other states in relation to shared resources; the obligation to conserve shared resources; and the obligation not to harm the environment located beyond the territorial limits of the state. The extensive range of paralegal rules formulated in the Stockholm Declaration 1972 and the Rio Declaration 1992 not only endorsed these doctrinal developments but also explained how the environment could be protected and how sustainable development could be achieved. Since 1992 many of these ideas have been incorporated formally within a range of sector-based multilateral agreements and recognised by a range of international judicial institutions as emerging principles and in some respects rules of international law. These developments in international environmental law have been accompanied by the emerging rules of international human rights law and of international economic law. While the focus of international economic law, as we have seen, has been the facilitation of international trade, the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources have been included as elements of international economic law. The relationship between international environmental law and international human rights law is just as complicated. There are a number of reasons for this.
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