A Study of Structure, Form and Language
Chapter 18: Legal reasoning in environmental law
The normative arrangements in a society are a reflection of its values. These values are numerous and varied. In the context of environmental governance they may be economic development, social development, environmental protection, resource conservation, sustainable development or a combination of two or more of these. The way in which these values are manifested in a legal system is a reflection of the cultural, social, economic and political systems of the society in question. Despite these differences, national arrangements for environmental governance in the twenty-first century are influenced to a considerable extent by the rules of international environmental law. A rule of international environmental law may be binding upon a state or it may simply inspire the state to take action. States have a degree of discretion in how to respond: for example, constitutionally, legislatively, executively or judicially. The rules recog- nised or created by the legal system perform different functions. Some assume the form of policies, plans, principles, guidelines with the status of paralegal rules. Others assume the form of protectable rights and enforceable obligations with the status of legal rules. Environmental governance is a combination of both sets of rules. The relationship between the legal rules and the paralegal rules is horizontal. Together they comprise the normative framework within which the environment and its natural resources are managed.
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