Journal of Human Rights and the Environment

Which direction for international environmental law?

Paul Anderson * *

Keywords: sustainability, governance, neoclassical economics, distributive justice, democracy, commons

Abstract

An enduring challenge to international environmental law is to facilitate the resolution of environmental problems faster than they are being caused. Prominent among potential foundations for substantive international environmental law to this end are (a) neoclassical economic theory (NET) and (b) distributive justice and deliberative democratic theories. Building upon existing critique, this paper makes two broad arguments. The first is that despite the influence of NET's market-based prescriptions, solutions lie not in introducing and extending the privatization and pricing of nature, but instead in subsuming markets within an expanded and enriched public sphere that is characterized inter alia by decentralized, deliberative democratic decision-making. This contention suggests a need to reform substantive environmental law that is informed by NET. The second argument made is that limitations, in particular, of the deliberative democratic approach to environmental problems (e.g., prospects of achieving consensus on natural resource use and the efficacy of any consensus that might be reached) may be overcome by combining it with common key resource control – to put it crudely, by combining meaningful political with economic democracy. This revised foundation would offer a potentially viable foundation for IEL. It also offers guidance for incipient efforts to democratize environmental regulation.

Author Notes

Most helpful feedback from John McEldowney, Chris Groves, Sam Adelman and anonymous reviewers is gratefully acknowledged. Responsibility for any mistakes rests, of course, with the author.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information