Global Governance of the Environment
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Global Governance of the Environment

Environmental Principles and Change in International Law and Politics

Afshin Akhtarkhavari

This timely book examines the role of environmental principles in changing international environmental law and politics, and argues for the importance of integrating environmental principles in the global governance of the environment.
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Chapter 5: The Function and Role of Environmental Principles

Afshin Akhtarkhavari


INTRODUCTION Much of the scholarship on environmental principles is concerned with what various norms mean and their status in international law.1 The aim of the discussion in this chapter is to review the scholarship which examines whether and how environmental principles change international law and politics. This is important for two reasons: it helps to support the argument that environmental principles have a role to play in changing international law and politics; and identifies the need to broaden the approaches to studying the nature of change in international law and politics and the potential role of environmental principles in that process. The discussion is structured around the realist and liberal traditions of what norms do in international relations.2 This approach helps identify 1 See Philippe Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law (2nd ed, 2003) 25–61, 231–290; Philippe Sands, ‘International Law in the Field of Sustainable Development: Emerging Legal Principles’ in Winfried Lang (ed), Sustainable Development and International Law (1995) 53; Ulrich Beyerlin, ‘Different Types of Norms in International Law’ in Daniel Bodansky, Jutta Brunnée and Ellen Hey (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2007) 425; Patricia Birnie, ‘Twentieth-century marine conservation conventions adaptable to twenty-first century goals and principles?: Part I’ (1997) 12(3) International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 307, 311; Winfried Lang, ‘UN-Principles and International Environmental Law’ (1999) 3 Max Planck United Nations Yearbook 157. 2 This distinction is commonly employed by social constructivists to highlight the utility of their own approaches to...

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