Research Handbook on International Environmental Law
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Research Handbook on International Environmental Law

Edited by Malgosia Fitzmaurice, David M. Ong and Panos Merkouris

This wide-ranging and comprehensive Handbook examines recent developments in international environmental law (IEL) and the crossover effects of this expansion on other areas of international law, such as trade law and the law of the sea.
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Chapter 2: International Framework for Environmental Decision-making

Geir Ulfstein


27 Declaration on the Human Environment, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. Both the Stockholm and Rio Declarations contain environmental principles, such as sustainable development and the use of a precautionary approach, some of which may have attained the status of customary international law. The Rio Conference also adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Agenda 21, agreed to at the Rio Conference, is a 700-page action plan, addressing a wide variety of issues related to sustainable development, for example poverty, demographic dynamics, management of fragile ecosystems and protection of biological diversity. On the institutional side, the Stockholm Conference resulted in the establishment of UNEP, whereas one upshot of the Rio Conference was the Commission on Sustainable Development. Environmental commitments may also be included in General Assembly resolutions with a wider scope. The 2000 UN Millennium Development Goals include aims such as integrating the principle of sustainable development into national policy-making, reversing loss of environmental resources and ensuring access to drinking water (United Nations Millennium Declaration, 2000). One of the outcomes of the 2005 World Summit was that member States reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the goal of sustainable development, including through the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. To this end, we commit ourselves to undertaking concrete actions and measures at all levels and to enhancing international cooperation, taking into account the Rio principles. (2005 World Summit Outcome, General Assembly...

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