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 6: An Introduction to Ethical Considerations in International Environmental Law

Alexander Gillespie


Alexander Gillespie Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to give the reader an overview of where some of the ethical debates in international environmental law are currently found. This chapter builds upon my earlier work in this area, which is contained in International Environmental Law, Policy and Ethics (Gillespie, 1997). I shall be using the template from the work, in terms of all of the ethical values at play in international environmental law as the guide for the following analysis. At the time of writing my 1997 text, I approached the issue of ethics and international environmental law, as most doctoral students do, in a very theoretical manner. Over the subsequent ten years, whilst I have had found no reason to change my mind with regard to the philosophical considerations in this area, I have been actively involved in the practice of international environmental diplomacy for both national governments and international organizations. Accordingly, my professional work has often been driven towards very practical, somewhat traditional solutions to immediate problems, and the luxuries of philosophical purities have often been remote. Accordingly, one important difference from my work in 1997 and now is the realization that although many ethical propositions for conservation may contain philosophical problems, it is still very important to pursue these, if conservation goals in the present can be obtained. The luxury of only pursuing the absolute correct, philosophically pure and defensible ethics in this area is one which is simply not in accordance with the amount of...

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