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 6: Internationally accepted rules: The normative framework

A Study of Structure, Form and Language

Douglas Fisher


The principle of sovereignty and the principle pacta sunt servanda have evolved contrapuntally as two of the most important principles under- lying international environmental law. The right of sovereignty of one state over its territorial resources carries with it a recognition of an equivalent right of sovereignty of every other state over its territorial resources. There are two implications: each state recognises every other state’s equivalent right; each state must not interfere with the rights of every other state. However, where there is a community of interest among the states in the environment or in a natural resource, there begins to emerge by implication a duty on each state to take into account the interests of every other state where there is a community of interest. This doctrinal development began almost imperceptibly in relation to the perceived community of interest in marine resources and much later in international water resources. The concept of a community of interest moved almost imperceptibly towards the notion of conserving the subject matter of the community of interest. The evolving doctrine of the community of interest has subsequently led into the much wider and expanded notion of the global commons and the common heritage of humankind. In some respects these developments simply mirrored how the doc- trines of the civil law and of the common law in relation to ownership had responded to changing circumstances within a society. It is no doctrinal coincidence that reference has been made from time to time in judicial decisions to dominium on the one hand and imperium on the other hand.

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