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 18: Settlement of International Environmental Law Disputes

Natalie Klein


* Natalie Klein Introduction Dispute settlement is a wide-ranging term in international law. In essence, it refers to a situation where differing views as to particular events or issues arise between actors (states or non-state entities), and processes are followed to achieve a result whereby the relevant actors perceive that their views are no longer in conflict. What precise processes are followed to resolve the differences varies. The traditional mechanisms are those catalogued in Article 33 of the United Nations (UN) Charter: negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements. This basic catalogue reflects a progression of techniques that become increasingly intrusive and formal. Beyond these recognised methods, states may resort to any other peaceful means of their own choosing, the only requirement being that disputes are settled peacefully rather than through the threat or use of force (UN Charter, 1945: Art. 2(3) and (4)). An international environmental law dispute has been defined by Cooper as follows: An international environmental dispute exists whenever there is conflict of interest between two or more states (or persons within those states) concerning the alteration and condition (either qualitatively or quantitatively) of the physical environment. This includes not only cases in which one state wishes to continue the activity causing the alteration to another state’s territory or to a shared resource, while the other state wishes it to cease, but also cases in which there is a common interest in the discontinuance (and reversal) of the alteration, since there...

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