China and International Environmental Liability
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China and International Environmental Liability

Legal Remedies for Transboundary Pollution

Edited by Michael Faure and Song Ying

This book considers the ways in which transboundary environmental pollution can be remedied through a variety of legal instruments. Particular attention is paid to the pollution of the Songhua river in China, but legal remedies to transboundary pollution are also discussed in a broader context.
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Chapter 13: Comparative and Concluding Remarks

Michael Faure and Song Ying


Michael Faure and Song Ying 1 INTERNATIONAL LAW The chapters dealing with the role of international law as a remedy against transboundary pollution pay a lot of attention to the various sources of international law. Many of the chapters in Part I (which explicitly addresses the role of international law in transboundary pollution incidents) show the number and variety of treaties that could theoretically be applied to cases of transboundary environmental pollution. However, notwithstanding this theoretical possibility, many contributions equally show that in practice it is not always that easy to find a specific treaty with clear obligations that could lead to the establishment of state responsibility for a breach of international law. The extensive discussion of the pulp mill litigation between Uruguay and Argentina by Harrison shows that even when there is a particular treaty dealing with the relationship between both countries as far as the quality of a specific river is concerned (in casu the 1975 Statute on the River Uruguay) the specific wording is not always clear enough so that one could easily argue over whether or not an upstream country breached the particular conditions. Harrison rightly warns that even though the task of a judicial authority (like the International Court of Justice (ICJ)) is undoubtedly to interpret the text of a treaty, interpretation cannot be used as a pretext for rewriting the text of the treaty. The availability of treaties as such is, moreover, not always a guarantee that the wordings of the...

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