Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law
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Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law

A Study of Structure, Form and Language

Douglas Fisher

Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the range of legal reasoning processes to support the understanding, interpretation and application of international, regional and national rules of environmental law.
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Chapter 4: Rules of competence and limitation: Territorial resources

A Study of Structure, Form and Language

Douglas Fisher


The language expressing the normative framework of environmental law and its substance at all levels – international, regional and national – are in many respects similar. Environmental law is developing – almost imperceptibly in some cases – in the general direction of sustainability. But the sources, structure and form of international environmental law are different in important respects from those of national environmental law. Do these differences matter in the context of the range of processes of legal reasoning for environmental governance or does the nature of environmental governance indicate similar processes of legal reasoning at all levels? The first level for discussion is international. The answer requires, first, an examination of the fundamental characteristics of international law and, second, an analysis of the rules that comprise the doctrinal foundations of international environmental law. The view has been expressed from time to time that international law is not law. While this may be a matter of semantics, it would be difficult to deny that there exists a growing set of supranational normative arrangements that impact upon states and to an increasing extent upon a number of non-state entities within the private sector. Whatever their nomenclature, these normative arrangements perform a number of significant functions in the context of environmental governance. These normative arrangements represent what may be described as a constitutional – and to some extent an institutional – framework within which states perform their functions in accordance with their own legal arrangements. The characteristics of this international set of arrangements are in many respects markedly different from those of national legal arrangements.

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