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Geir Ulfstein

The international character of the most serious environmental challenges makes cooperation between States imperative. As a response to this need, international environmental law, as developed since the 1970's, includes essential institutional characteristics. Such institutions provide permanent fora for negotiating and adopting relevant measures for environmental protection. The United Nations (UN) has played a pivotal role as a framework for developing environmental decision-making, particularly the General Assembly and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Several of the UN specialised agencies are also involved in environmental decision-making, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A particular feature of international environmental law is the 'treaty bodies' established by many multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). These bodies, and in particular, their 'conference of the parties' (COPs), are permanent organs with subsidiary bodies and a secretariat, and have important functions in law-making as well as compliance control. In addition, international financial organisations, such as the World Bank, play a vital role. Finally, international environmental organisations and treaty bodies are found also at the regional level. This chapter examines the international framework for environmental decision-making, and its ability to address effectively and cooperatively environmental problems that require urgent international action.

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Marina Aksenova and Geir Ulfstein

Marina Aksenova, Postdoc, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen and Geir Ulfstein, Professor, Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo. This concluding chapter sums up the section on international and regional courts and simultaneously draws a line underneath the whole volume. This chapter entertains two interrelated themes – judicial dialogue and legitimacy. The judges engage in domestic, regional and international decision-making by virtue of dialogue, which takes different shapes and forms. The conversations between judges at various levels reflect omnipresent concern for legitimacy, which becomes particularly acute when it comes to international courts relying on the state parties for support and enforcement. What is the role of individual judges in the process of building court’s legitimacy and how do they discharge their functions as protectors of human rights and constitutionalism? Which dilemmas do they face in fulfilling their mandate?