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妀楊嘈恀 弊暱籀眢 | 窅俴悵玸 | 痐紜睇 | 鼠侗楊薺 | 侗楊牖隅 | 磁肮壁煌 | 厙釐楊薺 | 冪撳溢郫 | 眭妎莉 | 晢佰晌 | 滇華莉  
楊薺荎逄  
絞測弊暱遠悵楊薺恀枙旃噶Contemporary Issues in International
堤揭ㄩ楊薺嘈恀厙﹞扡俋www.flguwen.com     奀潔ㄩ2010-12-30 10:46:00

 

Contemporary Issues
in International
Environmental Law
Malgosia Fitzmaurice
Professor of Public International Law, Queen Mary University
of London, UK
Edward Elgar
Cheltenham, UK • Northampton, MA, USA
© Malgosia Fitzmaurice 2009
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical or photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior
permission of the publisher.
Published by
Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
The Lypiatts
15 Lansdown Road
Cheltenham
Glos GL50 2JA
UK
Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
William Pratt House
9 Dewey Court
Northampton
Massachusetts 01060
USA
A catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009921517
ISBN 978 1 84542 283 7
Printed and bound by MPG Books Group, UK
v
Contents
List of abbreviations vi
Table of treaties, international and national documents x
Table of cases xiv
Introduction xvii
1. Precautionary principle 1
2. Sustainable development 67
3. Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 110
4. The European Convention on Human Rights and the
human right to a clean environment 170
5. Conclusions 207
Bibliography 208
Index 223
vi
Abbreviations
AJIL American Journal of International Law
ALARP As Low as Reasonably Practicable
Art. Article
BA British Airways
BASREC Baltic Sea Region Energy Co-operation
BATBEP Best Available Technology/Best
Environ mental Practice
BLA21F Baltic Local Agenda 21 Forum
BPO Baltic Ports Organization
BSPC Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference
BSSSC Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Cooperation
CAS Condition Assessment Scheme
CBA Cost-Benefi t Analysis
CBDR Common but Diff erentiated Responsibilities
CBSS Council of the Baltic Sea States
CCB Coalition Clean Baltic
CITES Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
CO2 Carbon Dioxide
Colo.J.Int*l.Entvt*lL&Pol*y Colorado Journal of International
Environmental Law and Policy
CSD UN Commission on Sustainable
Development
CZM Baltic Sea Region Coastal Integrated
Management Zone
DDT Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane
Den. J. Int*l L. & Pol*y Denver Journal of International Law and
Policy
DENR Department of Environment and Natural
Resources
Duke J. Comp. & Int*l L. Duke Journal of Comparative and
International Law
DWT Dead Weight Tonns
EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development
Abbreviations vii
EC European Community
ECHR European Convention on Human Rights
ECOSOC Economic and Social Council
ECtHR European Court of Human Rights
EEOICPA Energy Employees Occupational Illness
Compensation Programme
EFP Experimental Fishing Programme
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
EIB European Investment Bank
EJIL European Journal of International Law
ENGOs Environmental non-Governmental
Organizations
Envtl. L. Rev. Environmental Law Review
Envtl. Liability Environmental Liability
EU European Union
EHRR European Human Rights Reports
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
FFMP Fiscal and Financial Management
Programme
GA General Assembly
GAOR General Assembly Offi cial Records
GATT General Agreement on Tariff s and Trade
GEF Global Environmental Facility
Geo. Int*l Envtl. L. Rev. Georgetown International Environmental
Law Review
GMOs Genetically Modifi ed Organisms
HACAN Heathrow Association for the Control of
Aircraft Noise
HELCOM Helsinki Commission
HGO Heavy Grade Oil
HRA Human Rights Act
HRC Human Rights Commission
HRLJ Human Rights Law Journal
HQ Headquarters
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
IBSFC International Baltic Sea Fishery
Commission
ICJ International Court of Justice
ICLR International Community Law Review
ICLQ International and Comparative Law
Quarterly
IFIs International Financial Institutions
viii Contemporary issues in international environmental law
IJGLS Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies
IJMGR International Journal on Minority and Group
Rights
ILA International Law Association
ILC International Law Commission
ILM International Legal Materials
IMO International Maritime Organization
IOPP International Oil Pollution Prevention
IOSC International Oil Spill Conference
ISM Code International Safety Management Code
ITLOS International Tribunal for the Law of the
Sea
JEL Journal of Environmental Law
JIBL Journal of International Biotechnology Law
LDAs Local Distribution Authorities
LJIL Leiden Journal of International law
LOS Law of the Sea
LOSC Law of the Sea Convention
MARPOL 73/38 1973/78 Convention on the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships
Max Planck Y.B. UN. L Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law
MEPC Marine Environment Protection Committee
MIITF The Marshall Islands Intergenerational
Trust Fund
MONAS Monitoring and Assessment Group
MOX Mixed Oxide
N.Y.U. J. Int*1 Law & Pol. New York University Journal of
International Law and Policy
NCT Nuclear Claims Tribunal
NCTA Nuclear Claims Tribunal Act
ND Northern Dimension
NEFCO Nordic Environment Finance Corporation
NGOs Non-governmental Organizations
NIB Nordic Investment Bank
NILR Netherlands International Law Review
ONA Project Oceans in the Nuclear Age Project
OPA Oil Pollution Act
OPRC Convention International Convention on Oil Pollution
Preparedness, Response and Cooperation
OSPAR Convention Convention for the Protection of the Marine
Environment of the North-East Atlantic
OJLS Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
Abbreviations ix
P&I Protection and Indemnity
PCB Polychlorinated Biphenyls
PIC Prior Informed Consent
PoI Plan of Implementation
POPs Persistent Organic Pollutants
PPP Polluter-Pays Principle
RECIEL Review of European Community and
Interna tio nal Environmental Law
RMI Republic of the Marshall Islands
Rutgers L. Rev. Rutgers Law Review
SC Security Council
SCOPIC Special Compensation Protection and
Indemnity Clause
Sess. Session
SOG Senior Offi cials Group
SPS Agreement Sanitary & Phytosanitary Agreement
SSS Short Sea Shipping
Stanford J. Int*l L. Stanford Journal of International Law
STCW Standards of Training, Certifi cation and
Watchkeeping
TFSA Task Force Sustainable Agriculture
TLAs Timber Licensing Agreements
UBC Union of Baltic Cities
UNCLOS United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNTS United Nations Treaty Series
VASAB Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea
VISA Virtual Institute for Sustainable Agriculture
WCED World Commission on Environment and
Development
WFD Water Framework Directive
WG Working Group
WSSD World Summit on Sustainable Development
WTO World Trade Organization
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature
YBIEL Yearbook of International Environmental
Law
ZaöRV Zeitschrift f邦r ausländisches und öff entliches
Recht und Völkerrecht
x
Bamako Convention on the Ban
of the Import into Africa and
Control of Transboundary
Movement of Hazardous Waste
Within Africa 1991, 30 ILM
(1991) 733 25, 64
Berne Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory
Species of Wild Animals 1979,
19 ILM (1980) 15 110
Bonn Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory
Species of Wild Animals 1979,
19 ILM (1980) 15 111, 128
Committee of Experts for the
Development of Human Rights,
Doc. No DH-DEV (1995) 181
Compact of Free Association
(included in US Pub. Law
99-239, Compact of Free Assoc.
Act of 1985, 48 USC 1681 note.
59 Stat. 1031 and amended in
2003 Trusteeship Agreement for
the former Japanese Mandated
Islands, 8 UNTS (1947)
189 154 et seq.
Compact of Free Association
Amendments and the Appendix
V-Trust Fund Agreement;
available online at: http://
www.rmiembassyus.org/
Compact/Compact%20Sub%20
Agreement.pdf 165 每6
Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES),
12 ILM (1973) 1085 75, 111,
144
Convention for the Protection of
the Marine Environment of the
North-East Atlantic 1992, 31
ILM (1993) 1069 25
Convention on the Protection of
the Marine Environment of the
Baltic Sea Area 1992 (1993),
available online at: http://swww.
helcom.fi /helcom/convention.
html 2, 25, 57每65, 67, 87,
90每94
Declaration of the Second
International North Sea
Conference on the Protection
of the North Sea 1987, 27 ILM
(1987) 835 26
Declaration of the Third
International Conference on
the Protection of the North
Sea 1990, 1 YBIEL (1990)
658 26
Diff erentiated and More
Favourable Treatment,
Reciprocity and Fuller
Participation of Developing
Countries, 28 November 1979,
GATT B.I.S.D. (26th Supp.)
(1980) 74
Treaties, international and national
documents
Treaties, international and national documents xi
Espoo Convention on
Environmental Impact
Assessment in Transboundary
Context 1991 30 ILM (1991)
802 20, 30, 174
European Convention for
the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms (ECHR), 213 UNTS
222 178每9, 182, 184每92,
197每206
Fiscal and Financial Management
Program, Loan- RMI-34504-01;
available online at: http://
www.adb.org/Documents/
Profi les/LOAN/34504013.
ASP 168
HELCOM Monitoring and
Assessment Group, Sixth
meeting, Gdynia Poland, 20每23
October 2003, Development
of European Marine Strategy
and the European Commission,
Directorate General,
Environment, Directorate
B-Quality of Life, Health,
Nature and Biodiversity. ENV.
B1-Water, the Marine and Soil.
Work Plan, available online at:
http://sea.helcom.fi /dps/docs/
documents/Monitoring%20
and%20Assessment%20
Group%20(MONAS)/
MONAS%206,%202003/2-2-
INF.pdf 60
Helsinki Convention on the
Protection of and Use of
Transboundary Watercourses
and Lakes 1992, 31 ILM (1992)
1312 25, 93
Human Rights Act 1998, available
online at: http://www.opsi.
gov.uk/ACTS/acts1998/
ukpga_19980042_en_1 170,
195
IMO Briefi ng 43/2006 (8
November 2006) LC-LP.1/
Circ.5, 27 November 2006 54,
55
IMO, Scientifi c Group Meeting,
2每7 May 2004, Agenda Item
15, LC/SG/27/15, 2 July
2004 52
International Convention for the
Regulation of Whaling 1946,
161 UNTS 72 111, 128
Meeting of the Scientifi c Groups
to the Contracting Parties
under the Convention on the
Prevention of Marine Pollution
by Dumping of Wastes and
Other Matter, 1972 (London
Convention) and the 1996
Protocol thereto (London
Protocol): 30th session 每 18每22
June 2007, available online at
http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/
mainframe.asp?topic_
id=1472&doc_id=8214 55
MEPC, 57th session Agenda
item 4, 21 January 2008,
available online at: http://
www.endseuropedaily.com/
docs/80403d.pdf 88
Montreal Protocol on Substances
that Deplete Ozone Layer
1997, 26 ILM (1987) 1550 25,
75
Rio Declaration on Environment
and Development 1992, 31
ILM (1992) 874 7, 9, 27,
31, 35每8, 59, 67每70, 72每4, 78,
81每2, 85, 104每5, 111, 173, 176每7,
204
xii Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Senior Offi cials Group (SOG)
Nineteenth Meeting, Straslund,
Germany October 23-24, 2003,
CBSS Ministerial Meeting,
Luleå, 29 August 2003, Baltic
Sea States* Declaration on
Environment and Sustainable
Development 91, 98每9, 103
Stockholm Declaration on
Human Environment 1972, 11
ILM (1972) 1416 111, 173,
176每7
United Nations Convention on
Biological Diversity, 31 ILM
(1992) 818 25, 75, 93
United Nations Convention on
Non-Navigational Uses of
International Watercourses
1997, 36 ILM (1997) 700 16,
20
United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate
Change 1992, 31 ILM (1992)
849 7, 25
United Nations Millennium
Declaration, G.A. Res.55/2,
U.N. GAOR. 55th Sess.,
U.N.Doc. A/Res/55/2 (18
September 2000) 70, 71每2
United States Government
Accountability Offi ce,
Testimony before the
Subcommittee on Insular
Aff airs, Committee on
Natural Resources, House of
Representatives, Compact of
Free Association. Statement of
David B. Gootnick, Director
International Aff airs and Trade,
available online at: http://www.
gao.gov/new.items/d071115t.
pdf 166
United States Senate, Committee
on Energy and Natural
Resources, Full Committee
Hearing Asian Aff airs available
online at: http://energy.
senate.gov/public/index.
cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.
Testimony&Hearing_
ID=1478&Witness_
ID=4216 164
Wingspread Statement on the
Precautionary Principle (1998),
available online at: http://www.
gdrc.org/ugovprecaution-3.
html 9
CONSTITUTIONS
Constitution of Poland, available
online at: http://www.servat.
unibe.ch/law/icl/pl00000_.
html 148, 149, 151
Constitution of Sweden, available
online at: http://www.riksdagen.
se/templates/R_Page_6357.
aspx 149
Constitution of the Argentine
Nation, available online at:
http://www.argentina.gov.ar/
argentina/portal/documentos/
constitucion_ingles.pdf
149
Constitution of the Czech
Republic, available online at:
http://www.hrad.cz/en/ustava_
cr/index.shtml 149
Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Germany, available
online at: http://archiv.jura.
uni-saarland.de/BIJUS/
grundgesetz/ 149
Treaties, international and national documents xiii
Constitution of the Republic of
Estonia, available online at:
http://www.president.ee/en/
estonia/constitution.php 148,
149
Constitution of the Republic
of Hungary, available online
at: http://net.jogtar.hu/jr/gen/
getdoc.cgi?docid=94900020.
tv&dbnum=62 149, 150
Constitution of the Republic of
South Africa, available online
at: http://www.info.gov.za/
documents/constitution/1996/
index.htm 149, 150
Federal Constitution of the
Swiss Confederation, available
online at: http://www.admin.
ch/ch/f/rs/101/index.html 148,
150
xiv
Application of the Republic of
Hungary v. Czech and Slovak
Republic on the Danube
River 20
Arrondelle v. United Kingdom,
App. No. 7889/77, 19 DR (1980)
186 184
Buckley v. United Kingdom,
Judgment of 25 September
1996, 23 EHRR (1996) 101
193
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru (Nauru v.
Australia), Judgment, ICJ Rep.
1992, p. 240 134, 145每8
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru (Nauru
v. Australia), Order of 13
September 1993 [1993] ICJ Rep.
322 134
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru (Nauru v.
Australia), Memorial of the
Republic of Nauru 146
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru (Nauru v.
Australia), Oral Proceedings, 11
November 1991 146
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru (Nauru v.
Australia), Oral Proceedings, 15
November 1991 147
Case Concerning Land Reclamation
by Singapore in and Around the
Straits of Johor (Malaysia v.
Singapore), ITLOS, Order of 8
October 2003 18每19
Case Concerning Pulp Mills on
the River Uruguay (Argentina
v. Uruguay), Request for
Indication of Provisional
Measures, Order of 13 July
2006 [2006] ICJ Rep. 19 84,
106, 207
Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-
Nagymaros Project (Hungary
v. Slovakia), Judgment of 25
September 1997 [1997] ICJ Rep.
7 20每21, 80每85, 106, 135, 143,
207
Case of Budayeva and Others
v. Russia, ECtHR 15339/02,
21166/02, 11673/02 and
15343/02 (2008) 181, 201每2
Case of Öneryıldız v. Turkey,
41 EHRR (2004) 20 181,
201
EC Measures Concerning Meat
and Meat Products (Hormones
Case), WTO Doc. WT/DS48/
AB/R, 16 January 1998 22
EHP v. Canada, HRC,
Communication No. 67/1980, 27
October 1982 175
European Communities 每 Measures
Aff ecting The Approval and
Marketing of Biotech Products,
WTO Doc. WT/DS291/R; WT/
DS292/R; WT/DS293/R, 29
September 2006 23, 207
Cases
Cases xv
Fadeyeva v. Russia, 45 EHRR
(2005) 50 181, 196 每7, 203
Guerra v. Italy, 26 EHRR (1998)
357 181, 186每7
Handyside v. United Kingdom,
1 EHRR (1976) 737 179每80
Hatton and Others v. United
Kingdom, 34 EHRR 1
(2001) 181, 187每96, 198, 200,
203
Hatton and Others v. United
Kingdom, 37 EHRR 28
(2003) 181, 187, 191, 193, 198,
200, 203
In the Matter of the People
of Enewetak, et al., NCT
No. 23-902, Memorandum
Decision and Order, 15 April
2000 163每5
Iron Rhine Arbitration (Belgium v.
Netherlands) Arbitration, (2005)
available at: http://www.pca-cpa.
org/upload/fi les/BE-NL%20
Award%20corrected%20200905.
pdf 84每5, 106
Japan 每 Measures Aff ecting
Agricultural Products, WTO
Doc. WT/DS76/AB/R, 22
February 1999 23
Lawless v. Ireland (No. 3), 1
EHRR (1961) 15 179
Legality of the Threat or Use of
Nuclear Weapons, Advisory
Opinion of 8 July 1996 [1996]
ICJ Rep. 226 144每5, 177
Lopez-Ostra v. Spain, 20 EHRR
(1994) 277 181, 185每6, 187,
196, 203
Minors Oposa v. Secretary of The
Department of Environment
and Natural Resources
(DENR), Supreme Court of
the Philippines, 30 July 1993, 33
ILM (1994) 173 136每41, 147,
150
Nuclear Tests Cases (Australia
v. France) and (New Zealand
v. France), Judgement of 20
December 1974 [1974] ICJ Rep.
253 15, 21每2, 27, 142, 153
Olsson v. Sweden, 11 EHRR (1988)
259 184
Pacifi c Fur Seal Arbitration
(United States of America
v. Great Britain), 1 Moore*s
International Arbitral Awards
(1893) 733 112, 129, 134
Raynor and Powell v. United
Kingdom, 12 EHRR
355 184每5, 196
Republic of South Africa v.
Grootboom, CCT/11/00.2000
(11) BCLR 1169, Constitutional
Court of South Africa, 4
October, 2000 150
Request for an Examination of the
Situation in Accordance with
Paragraph 63 of the Court*s
Judgment of 20 December 1974
in the Nuclear Tests (New
Zealand v. France), Order of 22
September 1995 [1995] ICJ Rep.
288 15, 21每2, 142
Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases (New
Zealand v. Japan; Australia v.
Japan), Provisional Measures,
Order of 27 August 1999,
ITLOS 8, 11每15, 18, 27
Taskin v. Turkey, 42 ECtHR 50
(2006) 181, 203, 204
The MOX Plant Case (Ireland v.
United Kingdom), Provisional
Measures, Order of 3 December
2001, ITLOS 10每11, 14每19
xvi Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The People of Bikini, by and
through the Kili/BikiniEjit, Local
Government Council Plaintiff s,
v. United States of America,
available online at: http://
www.bikiniatoll.com/2006%20
Bikini%20vs.%20US%20CFC.
pdf 165
Vellore Citizens* Welfare
Forum, AIR 1966 SC 2715 27,
141
Yanomani Indians v. Brazil, Inter-
American Commission on
Human Rights, Decision 7615
(1985) 175
xvii
Introduction
The present book deals with current issues of international environmental
law. The aim of this book is to present the problems which, although wellknown
and widely written about, have not been entirely solved or remain
controversial or, regrettably, have become useful clich谷s. The present book is
not meant as a textbook or a comprehensive study of international environmental
law; it is a collection of essays which analyse certain concepts, such as
the precautionary principle and sustainable development, the legal character,
normative content and practical application of which are questionable.
The study is fi rmly rooted in international law. It will assess certain concepts
and principles of international environmental law from the point of
view of the general concepts of international law. Therefore the issues of
international environmental law are viewed in this study with international
law as the background and in close link with all its underlying principles.
The book relies on the work of the International Law Commission and
takes into account the relevant jurisprudence of international courts and
tribunals. Such an approach enables full understanding of the problems
involved. The book, when necessary, also presents the views of philosophers.
This is so, for instance, in relation to intergenerational equity, where
the philosophical background of the theory of John Rawls is necessary for
us to understand the whole concept of intergenerational equity.
Several areas of international environmental law will be examined, such
as the legal content of the precautionary principle and its applicability in
practice; the human right to a clean environment, whether it already exists
and is it in fact really a necessary right in order to address and redress
environmental problems of an individual (this question will be analysed in
particular within the context of the jurisprudence of the European Court
of Human Rights); the concept of intergenerational equity or intergenerational
rights, which is closely connected to the right to a clean environment
will be looked at from the point of view of its usefulness in practice; the
concept of sustainable development will be examined from the point of
view of its legal content (if any). The practice of States will be scrutinized,
for example, in relation to the national application of the precautionary
principle, and the author will rely on documents in languages other than
English, such as Polish or Russian.
xviii Contemporary issues in international environmental law
In conclusion it may be said that the present book will deal with somewhat
controversial and unclear issues of international environmental law.
The author does not purport to give the answers to problems dealt with,
but rather to identify the issues and their inconsistencies.
The author would like to express her gratitude to Mr Panos Merkouris
for the editing of the book and very useful comments on its fi rst draft.
1
1. Precautionary principle
I. INTRODUCTION
The precautionary principle is one of the founding principles of international
environmental law. It is an undisputed and widely-known phenomenon
the legal content and status of which, however, as is the case
with many other principles of international environmental law, are very
unclear. As was aptly stated:
Despite the success of the principles of the polluter pays, prevention, and precaution
in international and EC law as well as national environmental laws,
neither doctrine nor case law has succeeded in clearing up the mystery of their
legal status. How should we class these three principles? Do they display the
characteristics that typify normative principles? Are we dealing with complete
rules? Are they suffi ciently precise to allow legal eff ects to be deduced? Do they
call for the adoption of more precise rules?1
This chapter does not purport to provide a comprehensive survey of problems
concerning the precautionary principle, which has been the subject
of numerous previous publications,2 but has a more limited purpose,
1 N. de Sadeleer, Environmental Principles, From Political Slogans to Legal Rules (2002)
at 395.
2 To mention a few: A. Trouwborst, Evolution and Status of the Precautionary Principle
in International Law (2002) (hereinafter Trouwborst I); A. Trouwborst, Precautionary Rights
and Duties of States (2006), (hereinafter Trouwborst II); D. Bodansky, &New Developments
in International Environmental Law: Remarks by Daniel Bodansky*, 85 Proceedings of the
Annual Meeting (1991) 413, at 413每7 (hereinafter Bodansky I); D. Bodansky, &Scientifi c
Uncertainty and the Precautionary Principle*, 33 Environment (1991) 4 (hereinafter Bodansky
II); D. Bodansky, &Customary (and Not So Customary) International Environmental Law*,
3 IJGLS (1995) 105 (hereinafter Bodansky III); J. Cameron, &The Status of the Precautionary
Principle in International Law*, in T. O*Riordan and J. Cameron (eds), Interpreting the
Precautionary Principle (1994) 263, at 263每89; J. Cameron and J. Abouchar, &The Status of
the Precautionary Principle in International Law*, in D. Freestone and E. Hey (eds), The
Precautionary Principle and International Law (1996) 29, at 29每52 (hereinafter Cameron/
Abouchar I); J. Cameron and J. Abouchar, &The Precautionary Principle: A Fundamental
Principle of Law and Policy for Protection of Global Environment*, 14 Boston College of
International and Comparative Law (1991) 1, at 1每27 (hereinafter Cameron/Abouchar II);
J. Cameron and J. Abouchar, &The Precautionary Principle*, in G. Sampson and W.B.
Chambers (eds), Trade, Environment and the Millennium 239 (2nd edn, 2002), at 239每69 (hereinafter
Cameron/Abouchar III); D. Freestone, &International Fisheries Law Since Rio: The
2 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
and will focus on the examination of its practical implementation in the
marine area. The chapter provides, fi rst, a section on the general issues of
the precautionary principle, and then the specifi c section dealing with the
particular areas of interest.
The general application of this principle will be examined in the practice
of the International Maritime Organization (the &IMO*), based on the
1973/78 Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (&MARPOL
73/78*) and the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by
Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (the &London Convention*, including
the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine
Pollution by Dumping Wastes and Other Matter) taking into account
the national practice of selected States in the implementation of the precautionary
principle resulting from these Conventions. Further, regional
practice will be analysed, taking into consideration the less well-known
areas, such as the Baltic Sea Area which is covered by the 1992 Convention
on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area
(hereinafter the &Helsinki Convention*).3 This region is very interesting,
Continued Rise of Precautionary Principle*, in A. Boyle and D. Freestone (eds), International
Law and Sustainable Development: Past Achievements and Future Challenges (1999) 135, at
135每64 (hereinafter Freestone I); D. Freestone, &Caution or Precaution: ※A Rose by Any
Other Name . . .§*, 10 YBIEL (1999) 25, at 25每33 (hereinafter Freestone II); M. Böckenförde,
&The Operationalization of the Precautionary Approach in International Environmental
Law Treaties: Enhancement of Façade Ten Years after Rio*, 63 ZaöRV (2003) 313, at
313每33 H. Hohmann, Precautionary Legal Duties and Principles of Modern International
Environmental Law, (1994); D. Freestone, &Precautionary Principle*, in R. Churchill and D.
Freestone (eds), International Law and Global Climate Change (1991) 23, at 23每32 (hereinafter
Freestone III); A. Nollkaemper, &The Precautionary Principle in International Environmental
Law*, 22 Marine Pollution Bulletin (1991) 1070, at 1070每1110; E. Hey, &The Precautionary
Approach, Implications of the Revision of the Oslo and Paris Conventions*, 15 Marine
Policy (1991每4) 244, at 244每53 (hereinafter Hey I); E. Hey, &The Precautionary Concept in
Environmental Policy and Law*, 1 Geo. Int*l Envtl.L. Rev. (1992) 257, at 257每458 (hereinafter
Hey II); O. McIntyre and T. Mosedale, &The Precautionary Principle as a Norm of Customary
International Law*, 9 JEL (1997) 221, at 221每41; R. Andorno, &The Precautionary Principle: A
New Legal Standard for Technological Age*, 1 JIBL (2004) 11, at 11每19 ; J.M. van Dyke, &The
Evolution and International Acceptance of the Precautionary Principle*, in D.D. Caron and
H.N. Scheiber (eds), Bringing New Law to Ocean Waters (2004) 357, at 357每79 (2004) (hereinafter
van Dyke I); J.M. van Dyke, &Giving Teeth to the Environmental Obligations in the Law
of the Sea Convention*, in D. Rothwell and A.G. Oude Elferink (eds), Oceans Management
in the 21st Century: Institutional Framework and Responses (2004) 167, at 167每86 (hereinafter
van Dyke II); S. Marr, The Precautionary Principle in the Law of the Sea: Modern Decision
Making in International Law (2003); E. Fisher, &Is the Precautionary Principle Justiciable?*, 13
JEL (2001) 315, at 315每34; N.J. Meyers and C. Raff ensperger (eds), Precautionary Tools for
Reshaping Environmental Policy (2006); J. Wiener, &Precaution*, in D. Bodansky et al. (eds),
The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2007) 597, at 597每613.
3 The 1992 Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea
Area, 32 ILM (1993) 1068. The Convention entered into force on 17 January 2000. This
Convention replaced the 1974 Convention. The text is available online at: http://swww.
helcom.fi /helcom/convention.html (last visited on 15 June 2008).
Precautionary principle 3
as it constitutes a micro-world in which the coastal States have diff erent
degrees of economic development, and all of which, with the exception of
Russia, are members of the European Union, which itself is a party to the
Convention (see below).
It will be shown that, although all the instruments examined include
the precautionary principle, its implementation by States or by the treaty
organs is not precautionary but for purposes of prevention, based on scientifi
c knowledge, and consequently that there are very few examples of
true implementation of the precautionary principle, despite widespread
conviction as to its ubiquitous application. The practice of States and
international bodies, which is the subject of this chapter, presents further
evidence of its ill-defi ned and unclear character.
II. GENERAL
A. General Introduction to the Precautionary Principle
There may be several ways in which the protection of the environment
can be approached.4 These are: the curative model; the preventive model;
and the anticipatory model. In general terms it may be said that the fi rst
of these models is based on a conceptual premise that natural resources
are exhaustible and nature has to be assisted to cure itself. The costs
of such assistance are to be provided by the polluter. However, such a
policy is feasible only if implemented together with the preventive policy,
in order to minimize reparation to what could be compensated. In such
a model, the risks to be dealt with are still foreseeable.5 The preventive
model is based on the premise of limiting damage, while allowing a
certain degree of nuisance. This model requires prudence in approaching
the exploitation of natural resources, and it is aimed at greatly reducing
damage, which may only occur accidentally. It is based on the assimilative
capacity of the environment, which cannot be exceeded, otherwise
loss will happen. This model is fully based on available scientifi c knowledge.
6 The anticipatory model is the most environmentally oriented
model, which, as is surmized, emerged because of disappointment with
scientifi c predictability &which comes up against staggering limits in the
fi eld of environment*, whilst in the fi eld of environmental protection &the
4 de Sadeleer, supra note 1, at 15每19.
5 Ibid., at 15.
6 Ibid., at 17. He wrote as follows: &The preventive model has a blind faith in science; for
that reason it cannot prevent environmental degradation*.
4 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
only certainty is uncertainty*.7 The precautionary principle falls squarely
into the third model.
In the main, the discussion of legal issues concerning the precautionary
principle centres on its status in international customary law. However, as
Professor Freestone pointed out:
discussions about whether the precautionary principle is a binding principle of
international customary law have a distinctly 1990s feel about them. It would
be depressing to think that the debate has not moved further than a discussion
about whether the precautionary principle is still too vague to be regarded as a
legal principle.8
However, as will be shown, the practice of international courts and tribunals
regarding the precautionary principle is mostly focused on the lengthy
(and often not very illuminating) discussions whether or not it has already
acquired the status of international customary law or general principles
of law.
We should also be aware of the phenomenon, which has been commented
on by Professor Bodansky, of the existence of a divergence between
the traditional theory of international law based on consistent and uniform
State practice and the norms &generally espoused as customary*, which defy
classical tests of international customary law.9
This is especially visible in international environmental law. There are
very few principles established as norms of international customary law.
Bodansky argues that in the majority of cases principles acknowledged
as well-established norms of international environmental customary law
came about by way of verbal discourse between States rather than by
their behaviour, thus giving rise to a phenomenon termed by Bodansky
as &declarative international environmental law*. However, this author
states:
These functions of international environmental norms do not depend on a
norm*s legal status. Whether the duties to prevent transboundary pollution or
the precautionary principle are part of customary international law, they will set
the terms of international discussions and serve as the framework for negotiations.
If so, the current debates over the legal versus non-legal status of these
norms are of little consequence. They would matter if dispute resolution were
7 Ibid., at 17每18.
8 Freestone II, supra note 2, at 26.
9 Bodansky III, supra note 2, at 105. It is not a new phenomenon it was, e.g., noticed
by Sir Robert Jennings in 1982, when he stressed that often what is perceived as international
customary law does not &even faintly resemble* it: R. Jennings, &The Identifi cation of
International Law*, in B. Cheng (ed.), International Law: Teaching and Practice (1982) 5.
Precautionary principle 5
more prevalent, But so long as courts and arbitrators play a minor role, these
debates will remain a sideshow. Rather than continue them, our time and eff ort
would be better spent attempting to translate the general norms of international
environmental relations into concrete treaties and actions.10
The generalizations concerning the application of this principle in various
States based on incorrect or simplistic comparative studies may be
dangerous.
According to Professor Wiener such an approach to comparative studies
has many pitfalls, due not only to inadequate data collection but also to
methodological issues. Therefore, he fi nds statements that the European
approach is more precautionary than the American to be incorrect.11 He
submits several reasons in support of his claim: no general macro conclusions
can be derived from a few cases, which unfortunately is often the
case; comparisons may be made in full ignorance of the law in both Europe
and the US; the research can be only one dimensional, i.e. disregarding the
context of other related principles, institutions and equivalent doctrines
appearing under other names, as well as the diff erentiation &between law
in books and the law in action*;12 wide comparisons disregard variations
within each legal system (States of the European Union and states in the
US); broad comparisons may result in a focus on current events, and overlook
the dynamic past and also future changes, of which current events
may form a part and represent only a climax or ending of this dynamic
process; diff erences and contrasts between groups may be exaggerated,
even when they are minimal; fi nally, fl awed comparative studies may be
an exercise in confi rming the conclusions previously reached by the author
on what type of law is required.13 Wiener concludes:
[b] road and catchy depictions miss the true complexity and dynamism of vast
and interactive social systems . . . we need caution about precaution, and about
comparisons of national precaution. That does not mean, however, that we
should look only at the details and never step back to see the bigger picture; on
the contrary, we must look at both details and the whole systems.14
The same author instead proposes the model of &hybridization*, i.e. the
exchange of legal concepts across systems, a process &from which we can
10 Bodansky III, supra note 2, at 105.
11 J. Wiener, &A Comment on the Comparison and Evolution of Risk Regulatory
Systems*, 13 Duke J. Comp. & Int*1 L. (Special Issue 2003) 207, at 207每62
12 Wiener, supra note 11, at 250每53.
13 Ibid., at 255.
14 Ibid.
6 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
learn a great deal, and to which we can contribute*.15 Recent publications
by the same author depict even more forcefully the tantalizingly complicated
character of the precautionary principle.16
It appears that the way forward at the stage of the development of
international environmental law is to abandon the analysis of whether the
precautionary principle already fulfi ls the standards set for a norm of international
customary law and to concentrate on the circumstances in which
the precautionary principle is applied and variations in its implementation.
The above comment does not in any way minimize the value and the usefulness
of the studies which undertook the quest for the normative status of
this principle, which at the earlier stages of the investigation of the principle*s
legal character played a very important role in the attempts to clarify
its general legal defi nition.17
International environmental law is notoriously uncertain in relation
to the normative content of its norms.18 There are many factors which
contribute to this state of aff airs, one of them, for example, being the
method of international law making, which in many cases is based on
the principle of the balancing of the interests of all interested parties,
such as the management and apportionment of rights in relation to
international watercourses and the responsibility of States for environmental
damage, which relies to a certain degree on this principle. Other
factors, which play a signifi cant role in environmental norm-setting,
are the competing interests and diff erentiation in the legal position of
developed and developing States, i.e. the competing interests and differentiation
are refl ected in the principle of common but diff erentiated
responsibilities.
Therefore, Dworkin*s19 rigid division of the law into rules (as strictly
binding) and principles (fl exible instruments the legal context of which is
ambiguous) is very diffi cult to apply in the context of international environmental
law, where a treaty may contain various types of norms. As Boyle
has explained, some treaties may generate only principles but not rules,
which do not have the force of hard law. Such a treaty &may be potentially
normative, but still ※soft§ in character, because it articulates ※principles§
15 Ibid., at 262 & 254每62.
16 Wiener, supra note 2, at 598每611.
17 See, e.g., the extremely well researched monograph of Trouwborst: Trouwborst I,
supra note 2.
18 In Sadeleer*s view three factors explain why environmental norms have become uncertain:
the &increasing infl uence of regulatory fl exibility, evolving and controversial scientifi c
and technical data, and the shattering of traditional legal boundaries*: de Sadeleer, supra
note 1, at 255.
19 R. Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (1977).
Precautionary principle 7
rather than ※rules§. They, however, should &not be confused with ※nonbinding§
law*.20 As an example of this Boyle gives the 1992 United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change, where such principles are
included in the text of the treaty (for example Article 3 Principles21). As
the same author observed, the elements of Article 3 are drawn directly
from the non-binding Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
These principles are not only a part of the Climate Change Convention but
also refl ect principles which are emerging at the general level, common to
environmental law, but which have not achieved the status of customary
international law. However, they are phrased in an aspirational manner,
for example, through the use of the word &should*. Their content is not
certain and precise. They are, however, &relevant to interpretation and
implementation of the Convention as well as creating expectations relating
to matters that must be considered in good faith in the negotiation of
further instruments*.22
It may thus be concluded that:
Sustainable development, intergenerational equity, or the precautionary principle
are all more convincing seen in this sense: not as binding obligations which
must be complied with, but as principles, considerations or objectives to be
taken account of 每 they may be soft, but they are still law.23
This statement in the view of the present author sums up the discussion.
The endless analysing of the legal character of the norms of international
environmental law is a somewhat fruitless exercise, which in fact has very
little practical signifi cance. There is no answer to whether some of the constructions
(to which the precautionary principles belong) of international
environmental law are rules or principles or belong to the category of soft
law. The importance which States attach to international obligations is
not exclusively conditioned by the legal nature of these obligations: &[t]he
schematic distinction between those obligations that are and those that
20 A. Boyle, &Some Refl ections on the Relationship of Treaties and Soft Law*, in V.
Gowllad-Debbas (ed.), Multilateral Treaty-making: The Current Status of Challenge to and
Reform Needed in the International Legislative Process (2000) 25, at 32.
21 &[I]n their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions,
the parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following: 1. The Parties should protect the
climate system for the benefi t of present and future generations of human kind, on the basis
of equity and in accordance with their common but diff erentiated responsibilities . . . 2. The
Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent, or minimize the causes of
climate change and mitigate its adverse eff ects . . . 3. The Parties have a right to, and should,
promote sustainable . . .*
22 Boyle, supra note 20, at 33.
23 Ibid., at 34.
8 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
are not legally binding does not necessarily off er insights in the constraint
obligations imposed on states*.24
Practice in the fi eld of environmental law makes it clear that this is a
much more diff use process:
The principle of sustainable development has induced expectations as to the
conduct of States, can be used to claim from other States that they adjust their
policies and indeed have begun to act as de facto constraint on policy-makers.
This no way is dependent on its recent inclusion in the legally binding 1992
Helsinki and Paris Conventions. In the continuous assessments States make as
to which of the large number of prescriptions for preventive action are important
and are complied with, the legal nature is only one of the relevant factors.
The relevance of the legal nature cannot be taken for granted and can only be
assessed on a case by case basis.25
Lengthy arguments about what are the legal eff ects of non-binding
instruments are futile and do not constructively contribute to a general
understanding of such phenomena as the precautionary principle, which
really escapes rigid defi nitional constraints.26 Equally, the debate whether
it is &precautionary approach* (not &principle*) is without merit, due to
the fact that the concept of precaution &means diff erent things in diff erent
contexts*.27
However, the contrasting view, including that of Judge Laing of the
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (&the ITLOS*) in the Bluefi n
Tuna case (see below, pp. 11 et seq.), was expressed that such distinction
is meaningful, as &approach* indicates a more fl exible approach than the
principle and, according to Judge Laing, &tends, though not dispositively,
to underscore reticence about making premature pronouncements about
desirable normative structures*.28
The question may be asked, therefore, what is the substance of the
precautionary principle, and whether its certain features can be identifi
ed? Traditionally, the precautionary principle was approached in two
forms: the weak and the strong. The weak one is exemplifi ed by the
24 A. Nollkaemper, The Legal Regime for Transboundary Water Pollution: Between
Discretion and Constraint (1993) at 252.
25 Ibid.
26 However, see Prosper Weil, who was of the view that law either is binding or is not
law: P. Weil, &Towards Relative Normativity in International Law*, (1983) 77 AJIL 413, at
413每42, especially at 416每417.
27 P. Birnie and A. Boyle, International Law and the Environment, (2002) at 116.
28 Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases (New Zealand v. Japan; Australia v. Japan), Provisional
Measures, Order of 27 August 1999, ITLOS (Separate Opinion of Judge Liang), at para. 19.
See also the comments of Professors Birnie and Boyle; Birnie/Boyle, supra note 27, at 116.
Precautionary principle 9
formulation of Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment
and Development:
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely
applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of
serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientifi c certainty shall not be used
as a reason for postponing cost-eff ective measures to prevent environmental
degradation.
The strong version is to be found, according to some authors, e.g. in the
1982 United Nations World Charter for Nature, which states that when
&potential adverse eff ects are not fully understood, the activities should
not proceed*. The other example is the well-known 1998 Wingspread
Declaration: &[w]hen an activity raises threats of harm to human health
or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some
cause and eff ect relationships are not fully established scientifi cally*.29
The weak version of the precautionary principle does not appear to
cause controversy. The strong version, however, was subject to relentless
(if not crushing) and very sophisticated criticism by Sunstein, the detailed
presentation of which exceeds the confi nes of this chapter. The starting
point of his analysis was defi ning the precautionary principle as &hopelessly
vague*.30 The stronger version is not limited to threats of serious or
irreversible damage and encompasses the reversal of the burden of proof. It
may be said, however, that the division into these two forms is not always
followed by scholars and practitioners, and frequently the two types are
merged together.
In broad brushstrokes Sunstein argues that the tendency to rely on the
precautionary principle results from cognitive and emotional responses
which unduly stress highly visible or readily visualizable risks which have a
low likelihood of occurrence, thus instilling fear and provoking regulatory
responses which are not commensurate with the risk.31 Sunstein analyses
29 The 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, available online at:
http://www.gdrc.org/ugovprecaution-3.html (last visited on 20 June 2008). On this aspect
of the precautionary principle see in depth several publications of Cass R. Sunstein: fi rst,
his seminal book C.R. Sunstein, Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005)
(hereinafter Sunstein I); also C.R. Sunstein, &The Paralysing Principle*, 25 Regulation
(Winter 2002每2003/4) 32, at 32每7 available online at: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/
regv25n4/v25n4-9.pdf (last visited on 20 June 2008) (hereinafter Sunstein II); C.R. Sunstein
and R.W. Halm, &The Precautionary Principle as a Basis for Decision-Making*, 2 The
Economists* Voice (2005) 1, at 1每10, available online at: http://www.bepress.com/cgi/view
content.cgi?article=1079&context=ev (last visited on 20 June 2008).
30 Sunstein I, supra note 29, at 26.
31 Ibid., at 92.
10 Contemporary issues in internation,al environmental law
the relationship between the precautionary principle and cost-benefi t
analysis (CBA), and concludes that the CBA is more advantageous in its
implementation as it off ers a more coherent approach and is more versatile
in embracing a broader spectrum of issues than the precautionary principle.
The ubiquitous presence of the precautionary principle is often a result
of its strategic use by self-interested political actors. It is perhaps worth
presenting Sunstein*s reasons for his extensive criticism of this principle:
[I] have argued not that the Precautionary Principle leads in the wrong directions,
but that if it is taken for all that it is worth, it leads in no direction at all. The
reason is that risks of one kind or another are on all sides of regulatory choices,
and it is therefore impossible, in most real-world cases, to avoid running afoul
of the principle. Frequently, risk regulation creates a (speculative) risk from
substitute risks or from foregone risk-reduction opportunities. And because
of the (speculative) mortality and morbidity eff ects of costly regulation, any
regulation 每 if it is costly 每 threatens to run afoul of the Precautionary Principle.
We have seen that both regulation and non-regulation seem to be forbidden in
cases involving nuclear power, arsenic, global warming, and genetic modifi cation
of food. The Precautionary Principle seems to off er guidance only because
people blind themselves to certain aspects of the risk situation, focusing on a
mere subset of the hazards that are at stake. To some extent, those who endorse
the principle are responding to salutary political or moral motivations that it
might be thought to embody. Well-organized private groups sometimes demand
conclusive proof of harm as a precondition for regulation; the demand should
be resisted because a probability of harm is, under many circumstances, a suffi -
cient reason to act. Both individuals and societies sometimes have a tendency to
neglect the future; the Precautionary Principle might be understood as a warning
against that form of neglect. There are good reasons to incorporate distributional
considerations into risk regulation; the Precautionary Principle seems,
some of the time, to be a way to protect the most disadvantaged against risks of
illness, accident, and death. The problem is that the Precautionary Principle, as
applied, is a crude and sometimes perverse method of promoting those various
goals, not least because it might be, and has been, urged in situations in which
the principle threatens to injure future generations and harm rather than help
those who are most disadvantaged. A rational system of risk regulation certainly
takes precautions. But it does not adopt the Precautionary Principle32
B. The Jurisprudence of International Courts and Tribunals
The jurisprudence of international courts and tribunals is extensive
and largely inconclusive on the precautionary principle. However, the
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (the &ITLOS*), in the view of
the present author, came up with very valuable and original observations,
especially in the MOX case in which it approached precaution from a new
32 Sunstein II , supra note 29, at 35.
Precautionary principle 11
angle. The ITLOS made pronouncements on the precautionary principle
on the occasion of the requests for provisional measures in the Southern
Bluefi n Tuna (hereinafter &Bluefi n Tuna*)33 and the MOX cases.34
In the fi rst of these cases,35 the Applicants, New Zealand and Australia,
based their claim, inter alia, on the precautionary principle. In their view,
in the absence of agreement or scientifi c consensus concerning the conservation
of seriously depleted stocks, all interested parties should act in a
precautionary manner. The Applicants claimed that the stocks of bluefi n
tuna were seriously depleted, and were at their historically lowest levels,
without reliable indications of stock recovery.36
Although the Tribunal*s Order did not deal directly with the nature of
the precautionary principle, it, however, made certain interesting general
and practical observations. First, the ITLOS Order used the term &caution*
rather than the precautionary principle. The most important is paragraph
77 of the Order, which states as follows:
Considering that, in the view of the Tribunal, the parties should in the circumstances
act with prudence and caution to ensure that eff ective conservation
measures are taken to prevent serious harm to the stock of southern bluefi n
tuna . . . [paragraph 77]37
Paragraphs 79 and 80 of the Order are also relevant:
Considering that there is a scientifi c uncertainty regarding their eff orts to cooperate
with other participants in the fi shery for southern bluefi n tuna with a view
to ensuring conservation and promoting the objective the optimum utilisation
of the stock . . . [paragraph 79];
33 Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases (New Zealand v. Japan; Australia v. Japan), Provisional
Measures, Order of 27 August 1999, ITLOS.
34 The MOX Plant Case (Ireland v. United Kingdom), Provisional Measures, Order of 3
December 2001, ITLOS; see also N. Halde, &La Cour de Babel: Entre L*Incertitude Scientifi que
et L*Instabilite Juridique 每 Un Case d*Analyse: L*Aff aire MOX*, Revue Qu谷b谷coise de Droit
International (Hors-S谷rie) (2007) 199, at 199每221.
35 There are numerous publications on these cases, e.g., K. Leggett, &The Southern
Bluefi n Tuna Cases: ITLOS Order on Provisional Measures*, 9 RECIEL (2000) 75, at 75每9;
H. Schiff man, &The Southern Bluefi n Tuna Case: ITLOS hears its First Fishery Dispute*, 2
Journal of International Wildlife & Policy (1999) 318, at 318每33; A. Fabra, &The LOSC and
the Implementation of the Precautionary Principle* 10 YBIEL (1999) 15, at 15每24; Freestone
II, supra note 2.
36 Other points raised by the Applicants in their request for provisional measures against
Japan were: taking stock over and above the jointly agreed limits was in contravention of the
obligation to conserve depleted stocks and contrary to the obligations of Japan to conserve
South Bluefi n tuna stocks under Articles 64 and 116每119 of the 1982 LOS Convention; Japan
failed to take measures to conserve the stock in question; and was further endangering it with
its unilateral experimental fi shing programme.
37 Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases, supra note 33.
12 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
and fi nally:
Considering, that although the Tribunal cannot conclusively assess the scientifi c
evidence presented by the parties, it fi nds that measures should be taken as
a matter of urgency to preserve the rights of the parties and to avert further
deterioration of southern bluefi n tuna stock . . . [paragraph 80]
It must be noted that the ITLOS phrased the approach as that of &prudence
and caution*, thus avoiding using the term &precautionary principle*.
As was observed, the Order is of importance since it:
addresses fundamental aspects of putting the precautionary principle into practice,
such as risk assessment, the defi nition of environmental damage, and the
implications of a shift of the burden of proof. However, ITLOS*s decision also
evidences the diffi culties of making eff ective use of a precautionary approach,
given the need to balance the number of, at times, contradictory interests (that
is, the prevention of environmental damage and the economic and social costs
of taking precautionary measures) as well as the complexity of operating in the
fact of uncertainty.38
The same author notes the fundamental aspect of the precautionary principle,
i.e. that it is a relative concept and therefore has to be considered on
a case-by-case basis.
It was observed by Freestone that the Tribunal in this case followed
the sensible application of this principle.39 As was noted, the ITLOS did
not make any qualitative assessment of the scientifi c evidence before it.
It acknowledged that the parties had diff erent views, and that there was
scientifi c uncertainty as to the impact of the experimental fi shing programme,
as well as to the health of the stock and the necessary measures
that might be needed in order for conservation and optimum utilisation.40
However, it can be argued that the ITLOS prescribed caution rather than
the precautionary principle; in fact it followed the premise on which the
precautionary principle is founded of taking action without scientifi c
certainty: &[e]ven if ITLOS only urged ※caution§ on the parties, it did
oblige them to suspend possibly damaging activities despite the presence
of scientifi c uncertainty. This is a classic application of precautionary
methodology.*41
However, Professor Evans expressed a contrasting view:
38 Fabra, supra note 35, at 17.
39 Freestone II, supra note 2, at 27.
40 Ibid.
41 Ibid., at 32.
Precautionary principle 13
it seems to me that this principle should have no role in an award made by
ITLOS under Article 290 (5). Moreover, and despite what it says, it is diffi cult
to see how this Order gives eff ect to a &precautionary* approach at all. It is an
unfortunate fact that the greatest threat to ABT at the moment comes from an
increasing catch of states that are no party to the SBT Convention at all.42
Yet another aspect of the Order must be taken into the account: the
&urgency* in adopting measures &to preserve the rights of the parties and to
avert further deterioration of the southern bluefi n tuna stock*, &although
the Tribunal cannot conclusively assess the scientifi c evidence presented
by parties*. Paragraph 80 of the Order must be read together with Article
290 of the 1982 LOS Convention, in particular paragraphs 1 and 5, which
allow the adoption of provisional measures in order to &prevent serious
harm to the marine environment* (paragraph 1) but only in cases when
&urgency of the situation so requires*. The condition of &urgency* in this
Order was subject to diff erent interpretations by the judges in their individual
opinions. The urgency of paragraph 5 of Article 290 is linked closely
to &precaution*, and required by the Tribunal. Judge Treves inferred the
following from the unclear text of the Order:
While, of course, a precautionary approach by the parties in their future
conduct is necessary, such precautionary approach, in my opinion, is necessary
also in the assessment by the Tribunal of the urgency of the measures it might
take. In the present case, it would seem to me that the requirement of urgency is
satisfi ed only in the light of such precautionary approach.43
He further stated:
In my opinion, in order to resort to the precautionary approach for assessing the
urgency of the measures to be prescribed in the present case, it is not necessary to
hold the view that this approach is dictated by a rule of customary international
law. The precautionary approach can be seen as a logical consequence of the
need to ensure that, when the arbitral tribunal decides on the merits, the factual
situation has not changed. In other words, a precautionary approach seems to
me inherent in the very notion of precautionary measures.44
However, this element of the precautionary approach appears also to be
of a controversial character. Professor Evans doubts the &urgent* character
42 M.D. Evans, &The Southern Blue Tuna Dispute: Provisional Thinking on Provisional
Measures?*, 10 YBIEL (1999) 7, at 14.
43 Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases, supra note 33, Separate Opinion of Judge Tulio Treves,
at para. 8.
44 Ibid., at para. 9.
14 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
of the matter. He is of the view that the Tribunal contradicted itself in the
matter of urgency, since paragraph 81 reads as follows:
catches taken within the framework of any experimental fi shing program should
not result in total catches which exceed the levels set by the parties for each of
them, except under agreed criteria.
Therefore, he says:
ITLOS is quite prepared to see an increase in the total catch provided all parties
agree to it. It is very diffi cult to see how this squares with a perceived need for
&prudence and caution* in order to prevent serious harm to the stock (and therefore
marine environment).45
There was also a time element in this case, which put in doubt the issue
of urgency. Japan stated its intention to terminate the EFP four days after
the issue of the Order.
Thus, the matter of urgent termination appears to be non-existent. As
Evans concluded:
it appears that the urgency of the need fl owed from the ITLOS*s favoured
approach to the management of dispute at this interim phase. Despite protestations
to the contrary, it is diffi cult to see this approach as a legitimate exercise
of the powers provided for in Article 290 (5).46
The above case evidences the problems of the practical application of
the precautionary principle. First, is it a principle or an approach? What
are the circumstances of its applicability 每 is urgency a required element
of precaution; or perhaps is it only a necessary procedural requirement of
the provisional measures, as stipulated in Article 290(5) of the 1982 LOS
Convention, which has nothing to do with precaution (a view which may
be inferred from the Separate Opinion of Judge Vukas and of Professor
Evans* essay).
In the MOX Plant case, the precautionary principle constituted one of
the bases of the claim submitted by Ireland. However, the Statement of
Claim did not shed more light on the very nature of this principle: precaution,
the precautionary principle and precautionary approach were used
interchangeably, which in fact proves the point that such distinctions bear
45 Evans, supra note 42, at 12.
46 Ibid., at 13; see also Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases, supra note 33, Dissenting Opinion
of Judge Vukas.
Precautionary principle 15
very little practical importance.47 However, the Order of the Tribunal is
very interesting, as it further evidences the complex character of the precautionary
principle. Unlike in the Bluefi n Tuna case, the ITLOS applied
generally stricter standards in its prescription of the provisional measures,
as well as in relation to the precautionary principle. The most important,
in the view of the present author, is paragraph 75 of the Order, in which
the Tribunal stated:
Considering that the United Kingdom argues that Ireland has failed to supply
proof that there will be either irreparable damage to the rights of Ireland or
serious harm to the marine environment resulting from the operation of the
MOX plant and that, on the facts of this case, the precautionary principle has
no application.48
Important conclusions may be drawn from this succinct paragraph.
First, it appears that there is no general rule of application of the
precautionary principle, but recourse to it appears to be discretionary,
depending on the case. The ITLOS did not really present a full explanation
of why it found this principle inapplicable in the MOX Plant
case. In the view of the present author, Ireland, in its Statement of
Claim, submitted a quite well founded justifi cation for the applicability
of this principle in cases regarding radioactive materials. Secondly,
the ITLOS stated that Ireland failed to provide evidence of impending
serious damage to the environment, and on the facts of the case the
precautionary principle had no application. From this statement it may
be inferred that the ITLOS did not rely on one of the elements (if a
controversial one) of the precautionary principle, i.e. reversal of the
burden of proof,49 since it stated that it was Ireland which failed to
submit convincing evidence.
The ITLOS also did not fi nd urgency in this situation requiring and
justifying the prescription of the provisional measures (paragraph 81 of the
Order). It is of interest that Ireland relied on the precautionary principle
as the principle &applicable to the interpretation of each and every provision
of LOSC upon which Ireland relies, including the interpretation of
47 The MOX Plant Case, supra note 34.
48 Ibid., at para. 75.
49 This is widely accepted in doctrine: see e.g. Cameron/Abouchar II, supra note 2; see
also Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the
Court*s Judgment of 20 December 1974 in the Nuclear Tests (New Zealand v. France) Case,
Order of 22 September 1995 [1995] ICJ Rep. 288 (Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry),
at 348 et seq.
16 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
※urgency§ under Article 290 (5) LOSC* (paragraph 97 of the Statement of
Claim) and that:
Ireland further submits that the precautionary principle might usefully inform
the assessment by the Tribunal of the urgency of the measures it is required
to take in respect of the operation of the MOX plant [paragraph 148 of the
Statement of Claim].
In the view of the present author, paragraph 84 of the Order is of the
utmost importance for the further development of the precautionary
principle (although it is phrased as &prudence and caution*), in that the
ITLOS structured the obligations of the parties under this principle in an
innovative and original manner.
Paragraph 84 reads as follows:
Considering that in the view of the Tribunal, prudence and caution require that
Ireland and the United Kingdom cooperate in exchanging information concerning
risks or eff ects of the operation of the MOX plant and in devising ways to
deal with them, as appropriate.
Thus, the ITLOS linked &prudence and precaution* (or the precautionary
principle), with the basic contemporary principle underlying international
environmental law: cooperation in exchanging information.50 It is an
approach which perhaps may serve as some guidance for States in their
application of this principle.
The ITLOS followed it up in the operative part of the Order, in which
it prescribed that both States should cooperate and for that purpose enter
into consultations forthwith, in order to (a) exchange further information
with regard to possible consequences for the Irish Sea arising out of the
commissioning of the MOX plant; (b) monitor risks or the eff ects of the
operation of the MOX plant for the Irish Sea; (c) devise, as appropriate,
measures to prevent pollution of the marine environment which might
result from the operation of the MOX plant.
50 There are numerous international environmental conventions, both general and
regional, which incorporate this requirement. A very good example of the fi rst type is the
1997 United Nations Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses,
36 ILM (1997) 700. It introduces general obligations of cooperation (Article 8) and exchange
of data and information (Article 9). This instrument also relies on very extensive obligations
to inform on planned measures. These duties on a regional level are incorporated in
the 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic
Sea, supra note 3, e.g. Articles 13 (Notifi cation and consultation on pollution incidents); 14
(Co-operation in combating marine pollution); 16 (Reporting and exchange of information);
17 (Information to public). In light of paragraph 75 of Order it would appear to be that the
ITLOS considers &prudence and caution* as diff erent from precautionary principle.
Precautionary principle 17
Judge Treves, however, gave an interpretation of the precautionary principle
which was linked with what he called procedural rights. He observed
that:
I fully understand the reluctance of the Tribunal in taking a position as to
whether the precautionary approach is binding principle of customary international
law. Other courts and tribunals, recently confronted with this question,
have avoided to give an answer. In my opinion, in order to resort to precautionary
approach for assessing the urgency of the measures to be prescribed in the
present case, is not necessary to hold the view that this approach is dictated by
the rule of customary international law. The precautionary approach can be
seen as a logical consequence of the need to ensure that, when the arbitral tribunal
decides on the merits, a precautionary approach seems to me to be inherent
in the very notion of provisional measures [paragraph 8].
Further he stated that:
Prudence and caution were nonetheless mentioned in paragraph 84 as requiring
cooperation and exchange of information which are the content of the measures
prescribed by the Tribunal. It may be discussed whether a precautionary
approach is appropriate as regards the preservation of procedural rights. It
may be argued that compliance with general obligation of due diligence when
engaging in activities which might have an impact on the environment [paragraph
9].51
Notwithstanding these reservations, he is of the view that the process of
cooperation should have benefi cial eff ect on the Parties, such as &avoiding
the aggravation or the extension of the dispute and of bringing what
divides the parties into sharper focus before the Annex VII arbitral tribunal
meets* (paragraph 10).
Account must be taken of a very illuminating Separate Opinion by Judge
Wolfrum. First, he expressed doubts about the customary international law
character of the precautionary principle and stressed its opaque character.
He made a very important pronouncement on the relationship between the
prescription of provisional measures and the precautionary principle. The
judge was of the view that Ireland could not rely on the principle:
[E]ven if the Tribunal had prescribed provisional measures for the preservation
the marine environment under the jurisdiction of Ireland, it could have done so
only after a summary assessment of the radioactivity of the Irish Sea, the potential
impact the MOX plant might have and whether such impact prejudiced the
rights of Ireland.
51 The MOX Plant Case, supra note 34, Separate Opinion of Judge Treves, at para. 9.
18 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Further, Judge Wolfrum argued that such a matter is to be dealt with on
its merits by the Arbitral Tribunal. Also noteworthy is a statement by the
same judge that prescription of provisional measures is never automatic,
and is limited to exceptional cases and cannot be overruled by relying on
the precautionary principle. Judge Wolfrum also observed that the Bluefi n
Tuna and the MOX Plant cases are not comparable; in the fi rst of these
cases, it was agreed by the Parties that tuna stocks were at the lowest possible
levels and therefore they were instructed to act with prudence and
caution. However, in the second of these cases:
the Tribunal was in fact being asked to qualify the possible introduction of
radioactivity as &deleterious*, without being able to assess evidence about the
situation prevailing in the Irish Sea. In my view there was, under the present
circumstances, no room for applying the precautionary principle to the prescription
of the provisional measures for the preservation of the substantive rights of
Ireland on protection of the marine environment.
Lastly, the judge fully agreed with the part of the Order endorsing cooperation
between States as a fundamental principle of international environmental
law. According to Judge Wolfrum, the duty to cooperate:
balances the principle of sovereignty of States and thus ensures that community
of interests are taken into account vis-角-vis individualistic State interests. It is the
matter of prudence and caution as well in keeping with the overriding nature of
the obligation to co-operate that the parties should engage therein as prescribed
in paragraph 89 of the Order.52
It may be mentioned as well that Judge Wolfrum appears to attach to the
precautionary principle as a consequence of its implementation (though
one which has not gained general agreement) the reversal of the burden of
proof. Therefore, it may be said that the reversal of proof element which,
according to many authors, characterizes only the strong version of the
precautionary principle, is often, in views of other authors and practitioners,
part and parcel of this principle in general. It also shows that, as was
mentioned above, the diff erentiation between the weak and the strong
v ersions of this principle is often obliterated.
Finally, mention must be made of the Case Concerning Land Reclamation
by Singapore in and Around the Straits of Johor (Malaysia v. Singapore).53
In this case Malaysia requested the Tribunal to prescribe the provisional
52 The MOX Plant Case, supra note 34, Separate Opinion of Judge Wolfrum.
53 Case Concerning Land Reclamation by Singapore in and Around the Straits of Johor
(Malaysia v. Singapore), ITLOS, Order of 8 October 2003.
Precautionary principle 19
measures of protection, inter alia, on the basis of the serious harm to the
marine environment which the reclamation works would allegedly cause.
Malaysia also relied upon an anticipated infringement of its own rights under
UNCLOS as a further ground for the prescription of provisional measures.
In this context it invoked the precautionary principle. Singapore, however,
denied the applicability of this principle, as Malaysia had not specifi ed the
possible harm and the precautionary principle has not application in circumstances
where studies indicate that no serious harm is foreseeable. Moreover,
the precautionary principle must operate within the limitations of the exceptional
character of provisional measures, which cannot be overturned by the
invocation of this principle. The Tribunal, however, could not rule out that,
in the particular circumstances of this case, the land reclamation works might
have an adverse eff ect on the environment (paragraph 97 of the Order). In this
context the Tribunal mentioned the lack of suffi cient cooperation between
States (paragraph 97 of the Order). The Tribunal relied upon the formula of
&prudence and caution* regarding the possible implications of land reclamation
on the marine environment, which require the establishment by both
parties of a &mechanism for exchanging information and assessing the risks
or eff ects of land reclamation works and devising ways to deal with them in
the areas concerned* (paragraph 99 of the Order).
Therefore, as in the MOX case, the Tribunal linked the precautionary
principle to the establishing of the mechanism for exchanging information,
assessing risks and devising methods to deal with risks in areas
concerned.
The above analysis of the ITLOS practice in relation to the precautionary
principle clearly indicates that its status at present is opaque, its
understanding by States diff ers greatly and its practical application is not
uniform. It also indicates that, within the realm of international judicial
processes, the notion of the precautionary principle has diff erent normative
content and legal elements.
Halde analyses the whole judicial process of the MOX case, i.e. not just the
proceedings before ITLOS but also those before the arbitral tribunals established
on the basis of the OSPAR Convention and Annex VII to UNCLOS
and before the European Court of Justice, and, inter alia, assessed the role of
the precautionary principle in this case. This led him to the general conclusion
that the use of the precautionary principle lacked substance and that
it had become a procedural arm for delaying the inevitable and that it was
unable to infl uence general international law:
Le principe de pr谷caution semble devenir de plus en plus une excuse proc谷durale
afi n de repousser l*in谷vitable plutôt que d*appliquer un principe de pr谷vention
en amont. Le simple fait que la question de ce principe n*ait peu ou pas 谷t谷
20 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
abord谷 dans les aff aires pr谷c谷dentes porte l*auteur 角 penser que l*application du
droit international de l*environnement semble 那tre appliqu谷 en parall豕le sans
toutefois infl uencer les autres secteurs du droit international public, dont le
droit nucl谷aire. Cependant, le principe de justifi cation n*谷tait-il pas pr谷curseur
du principe de pr谷caution? S*ajoute 角 cela l*insuffi sance de connaissances
scientifi ques des tribunaux confront谷s 角 ces litiges.54
The same author, in relation to this case, speculates whether it would
not have been wiser for the parties to the dispute to have recourse to the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) by way of a compromis which would
have arrived most probably at the same decision as in the Gabčikovo-
Nagymaros case, in which the Court encouraged the parties to renegotiate
the case in the context of the precautionary principle, rather than to persist
with a restrictive legal framework of access to information.55
The practice of the ICJ thus far is even less illuminating in this respect.
The importance of the precautionary principle was raised in some recent
cases before the ICJ. For example, in the 1997 Gabčikovo-Nagymaros
Project case, Hungary relied on this principle in its pleadings:
States shall take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize
damage to their transboundary resources and mitigate adversary eff ects. Where
there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientifi c certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing such measures . . .56
Hungary addressed the principle as being a link between the principle of
cooperation and the principle which establishes responsibility for transboundary
damage.57
54 Halde, supra note 34, at 218. &The precautionary principle seems to become more and
more a procedural excuse to push back the unavoidable rather than to push forward the application
of a principle of prevention. The simple fact that the question of this principle has not much
or not at all been approached in the previous cases, leads the author to think that international
environmental law seems to be applied in parallel without infl uencing, nevertheless, other areas
of public international law, such as nuclear law. However, wasn*t the principle of justifi cation
the forerunner of the precautionary principle? One must add to this, the insuffi ciency of scientifi c
knowledge of the courts confronted with these cases.* (Author*s translation.)
55 Ibid., at 221.
56 Application of the Republic of Hungary v. Czech and Slovak Republic on the Danube
River, reprinted in P. Sands et al. (eds), Principles of International Environmental Law (1994),
vol. II, at 693每8.
57 Hungary further claimed that Article 12 (of the then International Law Commission
(&The ILC*) Draft on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses)
and Article 3 of the 1991 Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in
Transboundary Context (&The Espoo Convention*) on notifi cation of measures, which may
have possible appreciable adverse eff ect, represent the law as it then stood. The obligation of
notifi cation also includes the duty to consult and negotiate. The text of the Espoo Convention
can be found in 30 ILM (1991) 802.
Precautionary principle 21
The Court in this case did not fi nd it necessary to dwell on the legal
nature of the precautionary principle. It may be of interest, however, that
it found that the concerns for its natural environment in the region aff ected
by the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project expressed by Hungary related to
&essential interests of this State*. However, the ICJ was of the view that
Hungary did not provide suffi cient evidence that a &real*, &grave* and &imminent*
&peril* existed in 1989 to justify the measures adopted by Hungary as
the only possible solution.58
New Zealand relied on this principle in the 1995 Request for Examination
of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the Judgement of 20
December1974 in Nuclear Tests (the &Nuclear Test II case*). It pleaded:
that France*s conduct was illegal in that it causes, or is likely to cause, the
introduction into the marine environment of radioactive material. France being
under an obligation, before carrying out its new underground nuclear tests, to
provide evidence that will not result in the introduction of such material to the
environment, in accordance with &precautionary principle* a widely accepted in
contemporary international law.59
However, the Court did not address this issue, but it gave rise to many
important statements of judges in their individual opinions. The most
far reaching Opinion was that of Judge Weeramantry, who argued that
this principle was gaining increasing support as part of international
environmental law. Following the principle of the reversal of the burden
of proof, he was of the view that it was the duty of France to submit the
evidence negating the claims of New Zealand. He asserted that, in the
absence of evidence by France that nuclear tests were safe, New Zealand
58 Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment
of 25 September 1997 [1997] ICJ Rep. 7, at 41每2, para. 54. However, the possibility of the
application of such a principle, if the Parties fi nd it necessary, may be found in the following
statement of the Court:
&[t]hat newly developed norms of environmental law are relevant for implementation of the
Treaty and that the parties could, by agreement, incorporate them through the application
of Articles 15, 18 and 20 of the Treaty. These Articles do not contain specifi c obligations
of performance but require the parties, in carrying out their obligations to ensure that the
quality of water in the Danube is not impaired and that the nature is protected, to take
new environmental norms into consideration when agreeing upon means to be specifi ed in
the Joint Contractual Plan. By inserting these evolving provisions in the Treaty, the parties
recognised the necessity to adapt the Project. Consequently, the Treaty is not static, and is
open to adapt to emerging norms of international law . . .*
59 Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the
Court*s Judgment of 20 December 1974 in the Nuclear Tests (New Zealand v. France) Case,
Order of 22 September 1995 [1995] ICJ Rep. 288, at para. 5.
22 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
had established the case prima facie.60 Other judges, such as Judge ad hoc
Palmer61 and Judge Koroma,62 were less enthusiastic in their approach
to this principle.
The controversial nature of the precautionary principle was very well
evidenced by the 1998 Hormones in Beef case before the WTO.63 This case
refl ected clearly very divisive approaches to the precautionary principle.
The European Community64 argued that this principle was part of the
body of international customary law and was applicable to both assessment
and management of a risk, and that it informed the meaning and
eff ect of Article 5.1 and 5.2 of the WTO*s Agreement on Sanitary and
Phytosantiary Measures (the &SPS Agreement*). The United States supported
the view that it was not a principle but an &approach*, which makes
it more fl exible as a concept and the content of which is not fi xed,65 and
Canada argued that it was only an emerging principle of international law,
requiring further crystallization.66
The WTO Appellate Body adopted the arguments of the US and Canada
and decided that the precautionary principle did not override Article 5.1
and 5.2 of the SPS Agreement, although it stated that it was refl ected in
the preamble to and Articles 3.3 and 5.7 of the SPS Agreement.67 The
Appellate Body did not fi nd it necessary to make a defi nite statement as
to the status in customary law of this principle. It said, however, that &the
60 &[i]t may be that France has material with which it can satisfy the Court on that issue,
but no such material has been off ered. Having regard to the course of geological events, a
guarantee of stability of such an island formation by hundreds of thousands of years does
not seem within the bounds of likelihood of possibility.*
Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry, supra note 49, at 345.
61 Judge Palmer was of the view that it was diffi cult to make any statements concerning
the status of the precautionary principle without arguments by France addressing this issue:
Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the Court*s
Judgment of 20 December 1974 in the Nuclear Tests (New Zealand v. France) Case, Order of
22 September 1995 [1995] ICJ Rep. 288 (Dissenting Opinion of Judge Sir Geoff rey Palmer),
at 381 et seq.
62 Judge Koroma expressed the view that New Zealand established a prima facie case
that the marine environment was at risk from the underground tests based on scientifi c evidence
and that there might be a duty already &not to cause gross or serious damage which can
reasonably be avoided*.
63 EC Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones Case), WTO Doc. WT/
DS48/AB/R, (16 January 1998) (hereinafter Hormones Case); see also: J. Scott, &On Kith and
Kine (and Crustaceans): Trade and Environment in the EU and WTO*, in J.H. Weiler (ed.),
The EU, the WTO, and the NAFTA: Towards a Common Law of International Trade? (2000)
125, at 125每67, in particular 146每62.
64 Hormones Case supra note 63, at para. 16.
65 Ibid., at para. 43.
66 Ibid., at para. 60.
67 Ibid., at para. 124.
Precautionary principle 23
precautionary principle at least outside the fi eld of international environmental
law, still awaits authoritative formulation*.68
The question, which is very complicated, is the notion of &suffi cient scientifi
c* basis in the SPS Agreement. According to Article 3 paragraph 3, the
requirement of sound science is reached by undertaking a risk assessment.
The formulation of the risk assessment indicates the precedence of human
health over plant or animal safety. Further there is a question of &suffi ciency*.
Risk assessment should provide &suffi cient scientifi c evidence*. However, &suffi
ciency* is a relative concept and must be established in each case separately.
According to the Appellate Body, there has to be a rational and objective relationship
between the fi ndings of the risk assessment and the selection of the
SPS measures (as explained in the Hormones in Beef case, the evidence must
suffi ciently warrant or support the measure). Article 5 paragraph 7 of the SPS
Agreement does not rule out the possibility of the provisional application
of sanitary or phytosanitary measures. This is possible only if insuffi cient
evidence is available on which risk may be assessed. In such cases provisional
measures are permissible, provided that they are taken on the basis of available
pertinent information; additional evidence is obtained to perform a more
objective risk assessment; and the measure is reviewed within a reasonable
period of time.69 It appears from the case law of the Appellate Body that
Article 5 paragraph 7 of the SPS Agreement can be relied upon if there is
insuffi cient evidence (not scientifi c uncertainty 每 two concepts which are not
interchangeable) to permit the risk assessment (Japan 每 Apples case).70
Equally, the decision of the WTO Panel in the so-called 2006 Biotech case
is not very illuminating from the point of view of analysing the nature of
the precautionary principle.71 In this case, the principle was invoked by the
European Communities, which asserted that certain genetically modifi ed
68 Ibid., at para. 123. On the status of this principle on international customary law, the
Appellate Body observed as follows:
&The precautionary principle is regarded by some as having crystallized into a general
principle of customary international law. Whether it is widely accepted by Members as a
principle of a general or customary international law appears less than clear. We consider,
however, that it is unnecessary and probably imprudent, for the Appellate Body in this
appeal to take a position in this important, but abstract, question.*
See also: Japan 每 Measures Aff ecting Agricultural Products, WTO Doc. WT/DS76/AB/R (22
February 1999), at para. 92.
69 See in depth, J. McDonald, &Tr(e)ading Cautiously: Precaution in WTO Decision
Making*, in E. Fisher et al. (eds), Implementing Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and
Prospects (2005) 160, at 160每67.
70 Ibid., at 171.
71 European Communities 每 Measures Aff ecting The Approval and Marketing of Biotech
Products, WTO Doc. WT/DS291/R;WT/DS292/R;WT/DS293/R (29 September 2006).
24 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
organisms (GMOs) presented potential threats to human health and the
environment. Such a potential threat justifi es the assessment on a case-bycase
basis and the application of special measures of protection based on the
precautionary principle, which, according to the EC, has become a &fullyfl
edged principle of international law*.72 The United States and Canada presented
very similar reasoning to that in the Beef Hormones case and denied
the existence of the precautionary principle, arguing that it was only an
approach, due to the lack of one consistent formulation of this principle.
As recently as 2006, the United States strongly disagreed &that precaution
has become a rule of international law* and that precautionary principle
cannot be considered a general principle or norm of international law, as
it does not have ※a single, agreed formulation§. The United States argued
that this principle has many permutations and diff erent factors. This
resulted in the United States labelling it a precautionary &approach* rather
than &principle*. The United States then continued that, if the precautionary
principle is not a principle of international law, or even more so not a
rule of international customary law, for the following reasons: (i) it cannot
be considered a &rule* because it does not have a clear content and therefore
cannot be said to off er any authoritative guide for States* conduct and (ii) it
cannot be said to refl ect the practice of States, as it cannot be defi ned which
States embraced this principle; and (iii) considering that precaution cannot
be defi ned, and, therefore, could not possible be legal norm, it cannot be
argued that States apply it from a sense of legal obligation.73
The Panel observed that the EC did not specify in its submission what
is understood by the general principles of international law: principles of
customary law or general principles of law, or both.74 The Panel confi rmed
the observations as to the character of this principle made in the 1998
Hormones in Beef case.
The views of the US and Canada and the decision of both the WTO
Appellate Body and the Panel may be criticized generally for their disregard
for environmental law. Critics should, however, be mindful of the fact
that the WTO is not in principle an environmental organization, but its
aim is to eliminate restrictions on trade and to impose non-discrimination
and non-protectionism. Therefore, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body will
interpret the obligations of the Parties in the light of its objectives.
72 Ibid., at 42.
73 Ibid., at 42每3.
74 Ibid., at 43. On the diffi culties of the application of the precautionary principle in
economic theory see J.O. McGinnis, &The Appropriate Hierarchy of Global Multilateralism
and Customary International Law: The Example of the WTO*, 33 Virginia Journal of
International Law (2003/1) 229, at 229每84.
Precautionary principle 25
The jurisprudence of the WTO is, however, very instructive as evidence
of the general defi nitional problems and the lack of clarity of the legal
character of the precautionary principle, such as the notions of the risk, suffi
ciency of scientifi c evidence and scientifi c uncertainty. As is well known,
the formulations of the precautionary principle in various treaties75 and
75 E.g., the 1991 Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and Control
of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste Within Africa, 30 ILM (1991) 733, Article
4(3)(f):
&[e]ach Party shall strive to adopt and implement the prevention, precautionary approach
to pollution which entails, inter alia, preventing the release into the environment the
substances which may cause harm to humans or the environment without waiting for
the scientifi c proof regarding such harm. The parties shall cooperate with each other in
taking the appropriate measures to implement the precautionary principle to pollution
prevention through the application of clean production methods rather than the pursuit
of permissible emissions approach based on assimilative capacity assumptions.*
The 1997 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer, 26 ILM (1987)
1550, para. 6 of the Preamble says: &[t]he Parties are . . . determined to protect ozone layer by
taking precautionary measures to control equitably total global emissions of substances that
deplete it . . .*; the 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection of and Use of Transboundary
Watercourses and Lakes, 31 ILM (1992) 1312, Article 2(5):
&[t]he precautionary principle, by virtue of which action to avoid the potential transboundary
impact of release of hazardous substances shall not be postponed on the ground that
scientifi c research has not fully proved a causal link between those substances on one hand,
and the potential transboundary impact, on the other hand.*
This principle was recognized in many marine environment protection conventions, such
as the 1992 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East
Atlantic, 31 ILM (1993) 1069 (hereinafter the OSPAR Convention). The PARCOM recommendation
89/1 (1989) provides that preventive measures must be taken when where there
are &reasonable grounds for concern . . . even when there is no conclusive evidence of a causal
relationship between inputs and their alleged eff ects*; this procedure was implemented by
means of the Prior Justifi cation Procedure of the Oslo Commission, whereby substances may
be introduced only if it has been indicated with an acceptable margin of uncertainty that they
may not cause harm to the environment. Where this requirement is impracticable, it may be
applied at a more general level, i.e. through the application of the best available technology or
practice: the 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Environment of the Baltic Sea
Area, text available at: http.www.helcom.fi (last visited on 10 July 2008). Article 3(2) provides
that preventive measures are to be taken when there is a reason to assume that harm may be
caused &even when there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship between inputs and
their alleged eff ects*; the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
31 ILM (1992) 849, Article 3(3), &[p]arties should take precautionary measures to anticipate,
prevent or minimise the cause of climate change and mitigate its adverse eff ects*; the United
Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 31 ILM (1992) 818, does not expressly apply this
principle, but it says in the Preamble to the Convention that the Contracting Parties are &[a]
ware of the general lack of information and knowledge regarding biological diversity*, and
further that &where is a threat of signifi cant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of
full scientifi c certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or
minimise such a threat*.
26 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
soft law instruments76 vary to a great degree.
The national practice of States also lacks uniformity and is inconclusive,
even in Germany, which historically has the most developed and
sophisticated practice concerning the precautionary principle.77 However,
although the German courts* jurisprudence in the matter of precaution
has undoubtedly been very impressive, a certain discrepancy between the
far reaching decisions of the courts and the views of the major part of
German legal opinion concerning the interpretation of, e.g., Article 7 of
Germany*s Nuclear Law could be observed in the 1980s.78 German legal
opinion considered that Article 7 was applicable only to prote,ction from
or the prevention of hazards. Thus it related only to known dangers, and
did not cover anticipation of risks or the prevention of minimal residual
risks.79 It was also noted that &[w]hile legal control is thereby increased, it
nonetheless remains marginal in verifying respect for the current state of
science and technology* and that:
German administrative courts will thus exercise their jurisdiction only in order
to control the procedural aspects of risks assessment, and it will leave the administration
a margin of appreciation concerning of the measures that must comply
with the precautionary principle.80
An excellent survey of conventions, soft law documents and decisions of international
courts and tribunals, which include the precautionary principle approach or adopt the
philosophy of the precautionary principle, can be found in UNEP, &Precaution from Rio
to Johannesburg: Proceedings of a Geneva Network Roundtable* (2002), available online
at: http://www.environmenthouse.ch/docspublications/reportsRoundtables/Precaution%20
Report%20e.pdf (last visited on 20 June 2008).
76 See, e.g., para. VII of the 1987 Declaration of the Second International North
Sea Conference on the Protection of the North Sea, 27 ILM (1987) 835 (the &London
Declaration*) : &in order to protect the North Sea from possibly damaging dangerous
substances, a precautionary approach is addressed which may require action to control
inputs of such substances even before a causal link has been established by absolute clear
evidence*; the 1990 Declaration of the Third International Conference on the Protection of
the North Sea (&The Hague Declaration*), 1 YBIEL (1990) 658, at 662每73 which states that
the parties:
&will continue to apply the precautionary principle, that is to take action to avoid potentially
damaging impacts of substances that are persistent, toxic and likely to bio-accumulate even
where no scientifi c evidence to prove causal link between emissions and eff ects.*
77 Historically, the precautionary principle was fi rst recognized in Germany as Vorsoge
prinzip. See N. de Sadeleer, &The Enforcement of the Precautionary Principle by German,
French and Belgian Courts*, 9 RECIEL (2000) 144, at 144每51.
78 Article 7 of Germany*s Atomic Energy Law, which provides that authorization may be
granted only if &the precautions demanded by the current legal level of scientifi c and technical
knowledge are taken against possibility of damage caused by the establishment or operation
of the installation*: cited in de Sadeelar, supra note 77, at 145.
79 de Sadeeler, supra note 77, at 145每6.
80 Ibid., at 146每7.
Precautionary principle 27
The above further evidences the practical problems relating to the
precautionary principle, even in States where it is widely recognized and
applied, and shows diff erent ways in which it is interpreted and understood
by various national institutions (administrative and judicial), confi rming
its unclear character and ill-defi ned function.
C. Certain Views from Doctrine
The precautionary principle is contained in soft and hard law instruments.
81 The foremost example of such a soft law instrument is Principle
15 of the 1992 Declaration on Human Environment and Development
(the &Rio Declaration*), which is considered to be the most authoritative
statement of this principle,82 notwithstanding its general and rather vague
formulation. It is noteworthy, too, that there is no uniform standard of its
implementation since it is to be &widely applied by states according to their
capabilities*, a condition which puts further in doubt the possibility of a
precise (or universal) defi nition of the precautionary principle, as it has
diff erent meaning and application world-wide.
Equally, the views of doctrine refl ect the uncertain status of the precautionary
principle in international and national practice. Even the most
ardent supporters of this principle, such as Professor Sands, admit that &[t]
here has been no uniform understanding of its meaning, amongst states or
commentators*.83 Elsewhere the same author states:
at the more general level, it means that states agree to act carefully and with
foresight when taking decisions which concern activities that may have an
81 See de Sadeleer on the survey of various national systems, both hard and soft law regulations:
de Sadeleer, supra note 1, at 330每9; See also L. Larsen, &The Precautionary Principle
in Belgian Jurisprudence: Unknown, Unloved?*, 1 European Environmental Law Review
(1998) 74, at 74每82. Interestingly, in India, the precautionary principle is pronounced as &part
of the law of the land*: e.g., Vellore Citizens* Welfare Forum, AIR 1966 SC 2715, cited in M.
Anderson, &International Environmental Law in Indian Courts*, 7 RECIEL (1998) 21, at 26;
See also Simon Marr, who said &[t]here is no uniform understanding of the meaning of the
precautionary principle among states and members of the international community* S. Marr,
&The Southern Bluefi n Tuna Cases: The Precautionary Approach and Conservation of Fish
Resources*, 11 EJIL (2000) 815, at 821.
82 Principle 15 reads as follows:
&[I]n order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied
by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible
damage, the lack of full scientifi c certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing
cost-eff ective measures to prevent environmental degradation.*
83 P. Sands, &Pleadings and the Pursuit of International Law: Nuclear Tests II (New
Zealand v. France)*, in A. Anghie and G. Sturgess (eds), Legal Visions of the 21st Century:
Essays in Honour of Judge Christopher Weeramantry (1998) 601, at 623.
28 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
adverse impact on the environment. A more focused interpretation provides
that the principle requires activities and substances which may be harmful to
the environment to be regulated, an possibly prohibited, even if not conclusive
or overwhelming evidence is available as to the harm or likely harm they may
cause to the environment.84
Similarly, Professor Boissons de Chazournes claims that, although this
principle has not yet achieved an unambiguous status in international
law, it can nonetheless be considered as an emerging customary norm.
However, the same author admits that:
It is diffi cult to determine precisely technically speaking, what precautionary
principle means in environmental law. Is precaution a &standard*, an &approach*,
or a &principle* in the legal sense? Elements of an answer can be found in international
practice.85
Serious criticism of the precautionary principle is based on its &subjectivity*,
i.e. that it relies fundamentally on subjective criteria to activate it.
Therefore, the notions fundamental to the nature of this principle, such as
&threats of serious or irreversible damage* or &reasonable grounds* or &potential
adverse eff ects*, cannot be translated into legal terms since they are based
on subjectivity. Even notions which are well defi ned pose certain problems.
For example, although the defi nition of what is &toxic* exists; it is really
unclear what toxic means, since the eff ects of toxicity can vary depending on
species. Moreover, criticism was expressed concerning the inherent concept
of relying on suspected eff ects instead of basing the precautionary principle
on existing solid scientifi c evidence, in cases when these (the evidence) are
available in combination with a sound monitoring strategy in order to make
a risk assessment. In such cases only objective tests should be used.86
However, as one of the authors phrased it, risk is &a slippery concept* and
risk assessment methods are controversial, riddled with uncertainty and
subjectivity. Therefore, as Marr sums up, for some authors the numeric
estimate of risk is meaningless and for the others it is &an art*.87 The differences
in opinion have their source in the approach to risk management.
One school of thought sees risk management as subjective, since danger
84 P. Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law (2nd edn, 2003), at 272.
85 L. Boissons de Chazournes, &The Precautionary Principle*, in UNEP, Precaution from
Rio to Johannesburg: Proceedings of a Geneva Network Roundtable (2002) 10, at 12.
86 Marr, supra note 2, at 21每2. The same author also mentions the doctrine of &substantial
evidence*, which is based on a premise that it is possible to know enough about something
to justify its use. For example, in relation to genetically modifi ed crops it is accepted that
enough is known about the safety of conventional crops to make it reasonable to eat them:
Marr, supra note 2, at 22.
87 Ibid., at 31.
Precautionary principle 29
and threat are not only tangible real processes but also infl uenced by our
culture and minds.88
There is some agreement amongst authors as to the common features
of this principle: (i) regulatory inaction threatens non-negligible harm; (ii)
there is a lack of scientifi c certainty on the cause and eff ects relationship;
and (iii) under these circumstances regulatory inaction is unjustifi ed. A
slightly diff erent set of elements, however, in the view of the present author,
which fully refl ected the complicated nature of this principle, was presented
by Professor Boissons de Chazournes. She focuses on four distinguishing
features of this principle: risk; damage; scientifi c uncertainty; and diff erentiated
capabilities. As to risk, she states that this is not a defi ning factor.
She explains that risk is a predictable potential danger, which may result
in damage. Precaution has evolved and now relates to a new type of risk in
international law, an ecological one, the assessment of which is not defi ned
in international law and has to be found in practice. Risk implies damage,
which is defi ned by its threshold (&irreversible*; &grave*), so the application
of precaution is somewhat limited. Scientifi c uncertainty, according to the
same author, represents the main condition for the application and legitimization
of this principle and constitutes the diff erence between prevention
(which relies on science) and precaution. She argues that the extent
88 Ibid. and B. Lomborg, The Sceptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the
World (2001), at 338, 350. Risk assessment plays a fundamental role in barriers to international
trade. As Kiss and Shelton observe:
WTO cases show that panels require the identifi cation of real risks as sine qua non for trade
barriers to be compatible with the GATT/WTO regime and especially with bans permitted
by the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. In various cases, the dispute settlement
panels and the Appellate Body have established the contours of GATT-acceptable
risk assessment procedure: (1) risk assessment should set out both the prevailing view
and opinions taking a divergent view; (2) there is no requirement to establish a minimum
threshold level of risk and states may set zero risk as the level it will accept; (3) risk must be
ascertainable and not theoretical, but ascertainable potential is enough; (4) the criteria used
by the state must include all risks and their origin with a degree of specifi city. Perhaps most
importantly, there must be a rational or objective relationship between the SPS measure
and the scientifi c evidence. In cease, where it is not possible to conduct a proper risk assessment,
Article 5 (7) of the SPS Agreement allows to adopt and maintain a provisional SPS
measure. According to WTO Panel and the Appellate Body, this provision incorporates
the precautionary principle to a limited extent, when four cumulative criteria are met: (1)
the relevant scientifi c information must be insuffi cient; (2) the measure should be adopted
on the basis of available information; (3) the member must seek to obtain the additional
information necessary for a more objective assessment of risk; (4) the member must review
the measure accordingly within a reasonable period of time established on a case by case
basis depending on specifi c circumstances, including the diffi culty of obtaining additional
information needed for review and the characteristics of the SPS measure.
A. Kiss and D. Shelton, International Environmental Law (2004), at 251.
30 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
of the precautionary principle must be based on a minimum knowledge
which is on the basis of scientifi c results that have achieved some degree
of consistency. Precaution is an evolving, not a static, process due to the
regular reassessment of risk involved; a process which leads to revaluation
of the decisions adopted in relation to public health and the environment.
Therefore the question arises whether the law can manage uncertainty, and
whether it can be better defi ned in political rather than legal terms.
Finally, the problem of the capabilities of States is related to the issue
of proportionality, which means that States cannot be subject to the same
obligations stemming from the application of the precautionary principle.
The assessment of the precautionary principle will vary from State to State,
depending on economic, fi nancial and technological capabilities, in relation
to risk management.89
Finally, States often blur the diff erences between soft and hard law
instruments in international environmental law. State practice is very
inconclusive on this subject. States often promulgate soft law in their
municipal order in the same manner as hard law, and for example pass such
instruments through parliamentary procedures, which may lead to an erroneous
conclusion that a soft law instrument was promulgated in domestic
law because it has the status of a norm of international customary law. In
the view of the present author, this further strengthens the argument that
the general discussion on the status of the precautionary principle in international
customary law may lead to misleading results and does not really
refl ect State practice in relation to this principle.
In conclusion, it may be said that there are very few features of the precautionary
principle which are not disputed, and that this is clearly indicated
by the varied practice of States, the jurisprudence of international
courts and tribunals and views of doctrine.
It appears that the role of the precautionary principle is primarily in
risk management and that it is one of its few uncontested features (being
mindful, however, about the ambiguous character of the risk itself).90
Therefore, as certain authors suggested, the way forward is not to engage
in an inconclusive discussion as to the legal status of this principle, but rather
to examine particular regimes. That approach was precisely one of the outcomes
of the Johannesburg Summit, i.e. the departure from the analysis of the
89 Boissons de Chazournes, supra note 85, at 11.
90 In the view of the present author, there is, also in some cases, not a very clear division
between this principle and the environmental impact assessment (the &EIA*), in particular
in relation to the new international legal instruments which deal with the Strategic Impact
Assessment (the &SIA*). This type of far reaching assessment is included in the 2003 Protocol
on Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment to the 1992 Convention on the Environmental
Impact Assessment (the &Espoo Convention*).
Precautionary principle 31
status of this principle in favour of &its affi rmation, the recognition of its relevance
as a complement to science -based decision making, and its integration
in social and development agendas* (such as human health and the need for
assistance to strengthen developing countries* capacities).91 Precaution is
included in the Plan of Implementation (Chapter X), which reaffi rms Principle
15 of the Rio Declaration. The issues concerning precaution were also raised
in connection with the Agenda 21 commitment to sound management of
chemicals and hazardous wastes, in relation to which States decided to follow
transparent science-based risk assessment and management procedures,
observing the requirements of the application of the precautionary principle.
92 The same authors concluded that concern for human health, together
with the provision of support for developing countries, added a clearer social
and developmental dimension to the precautionary principle.93 However, it
may be added that the character of this principle calls for its cautious application,
which will involve a proportionality test including the balancing of costs
and benefi ts.94
III. IMO, INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND
THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE
A. The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
1. Introductory
In order to assess the commitment of the IMO to the precautionary principle,
it is necessary to review a few of the existing international conventions,
which were negotiated within that organization and sponsored by it.
It is intended to review in depth the global conventions (the 73/78
Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (the MARPOL73/78
Convention) and the 1972 London Convention) which were signed under
the auspices of the IMO, as well as to analyse related conventions which
are more recent.
This approach will enable us to ascertain whether the precautionary
principle is applied by States parties to the IMO conventions which were
negotiated and signed before the advent of this principle, and, further, how
this principle is accounted for in the newer conventions.
91 M.-C. Cordonier Seggar et al., &Prospects for Principles of International Sustainable
Development Law after the WSSD: Common but Diff erentiated Responsibilities, Precaution
and Participation*, 12 RECIEL (2003) 54, at 63.
92 Ibid., at 62.
93 Ibid.
94 Marr, supra note 2, at 23.
32 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
There are also other IMO conventions, such the Convention of
Intervention of the High Seas in case of Oil Casualties; the Convention on
Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation; the International
Convention of the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems; and
International Convention for the Control Management of Ships* Ballast
Water and Sediments, which will be mentioned in so far as they apply the
precautionary approach.
2. MARPOL 73/7895
(a) Brief Description of MARPOL 73/78 Underlying Principles
The survey and analysis of IMO practice in relation to the precautionary
principle will begin with the 73/78 MARPOL Convention.96 The
Convention*s main purpose is to prevent and minimize pollution from
ships, both accidental and as a result of routine operations. The Convention
consists of the framework (or the &umbrella*) Convention and six technical
Annexes: Annex I 每 Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil;97
Annex II 每 Regulations for the Control by Noxious Liquid Substances
in Bulk;98 Annex III 每 Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances
Carried by Sea in Packaged Form;99 Annex IV 每 Prevention of Pollution
by Sewage from Ships;100 Annex V 每 Prevention of Pollution by Garbage
from Ships; Annex VI 每 Prevention of Air Pollution.101
The MARPOL 73/78 Convention is the main international instrument
relating to prevention of pollution of the marine environment from ships.
It is a combination of treaties adopted in 1973 and 1978 and updated by
way of amendments.102 Annexes I and II are mandatory for the parties to
the Convention, and all other remaining Annexes are optional. As of 31
1 95 Entered into force on 2 October 1983 (Annexes I and II).
1 96 In-depth information on the MARPOL 73/78 can be found on the IMO website:
http://www.imo.org/Conventions/contents.asp?doc_id=578&topic_id=258 (last visited on 20
June 2008).
1 97 Entered into force on 2 October 1983 (revised Annex entered into force on 1 January
2007).
1 98 Entered into force on 6 April 1987 (revised Annex entered into force on 1 January
2007).
199 Entered into force on 1 July 1992.
100 Entered into force on 27 September 2003 (a revised Annex was adopted in 2004).
101 Entered into force on 19 May 2005.
102 On the MARPOL Convention generally see: D.W. Abecassis et al., Oil Pollution from
Ships: International, United Kingdom and United States Law and Practice (2nd edn, 1984);
R. Churchill and V. Lowe, The Law of the Sea (1999); D. Bodansky, &Protecting Marine
Environment from Vessel-Source Pollution: UNCLOS and Beyond*, 18 Ecol.L.Q (1991) 719,
at 719每77.
Precautionary principle 33
January 2005, the parties to the MARPOL constitute 97.07% of merchant
tonnage and there are 130 contracting parties.103 This makes their provisions,
together with the &umbrella* Convention, a universal instrument,
comprising of &generally accepted international rules and standards* (in
the wording of Article 211 of the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea
Convention), which constitute a minimum standard prescribed by fl ag
States for their merchant ships and which have also become binding on
third States through the working of customary international law.104 The
acceptance of the other Annexes is not so extensive.105
Amendments to the Convention are adopted on the basis of the so-called
tacit procedure (or the &opting-out* system), on the basis of which any State
party to the Convention may &opt out* of accepting a new amendment
within a prescribed period of time, and as a result is not bound by it (Article
16). This procedure makes the application of the Convention patchy and,
as observed by some authors, &[t]his undoubtedly complicates the question
whether any particular regulation is ※generally accepted§ when determining
what rules a fl ag state must apply under Article 211*.106
Under MARPOL 73/78 the parties undertake to give eff ect to the provisions
of the Convention and those Annexes thereto which bind them, in
order to prevent pollution of the marine environment by the discharge of
harmful substances or effl uents containing such substances in contravention
of the Convention (Article 1 paragraph 1).
Article 4 of MARPOL 73/78 provides a double system of national
prohibitions and sanctions. First, violations are to be prohibited and sanctions
to be established under the law of the Administration107 of the ship
concerned, wherever the violation occurs (Article 4 paragraph 1); and,
secondly, violations are to be prohibited and sanctions to be established
under the law of the party within whose jurisdiction they occur (Article 4
paragraph 2).
103 Data from Summary of Status of Conventions, as at 31 January 2005, are available
online at: http://www.imo.org/Conventions/mainframe.asp?topic_id=247 (last visited on 31
January 2005).
104 See Birnie/Boyle, supra note 27, at 363.
105 Annex III, number of parties, 115, 99% of the world tonnage; Annex IV, number
of parties, 100, 54.35% of the world tonnage; Annex V, number of parties, 119, 95.23% of
the world tonnage; Annex VI, number of parties, 19, 60.04% of the world tonnage. Source:
Summary of Status Conventions, supra note 103.
106 Birnie/Boyle, supra note 27, at 363.
107 &Administration means the Government of the State under whose authority the
ship is operating. With respect to a ship to fl y a fl ag of any State, the Administration is the
Government of that State; with respect to fi xed and fl oating platforms engaged in exploration
and exploitation of the sea-bed and sub-soil thereof adjacent to the coast over the coastal State
exercises sovereign rights for the purpose of exploration and exploitation of their natural
resources, the Administration is the Government of the coastal State concerned* (Article 2).
34 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
According to MARPOL 73/78, the fl ag State has to ensure that its ships
comply with all the required technical standards. In order to achieve this
end, the State has to conduct inspections and issue an &international oil pollution
prevention certifi cate*. Article 5 of the Convention introduced the farreaching
jurisdiction of the port state. It provides that the inspection must be
carried out to confi rm that the ship is in possession of a valid certifi cate or to
assess the condition of the ship when there are the clear grounds for believing
that its condition does not conform substantially to the certifi cate.
In cases of stated non-compliance with the MARPOL certifi cate, Article
7 imposes a duty on the port State not to allow the ship to leave port unless it
can do so without presenting an unreasonable threat or harm to the marine
environment. However, the port State has an obligation not to delay ships
unduly. In the event of such a violation Article 4 paragraph 2 (within the
jurisdiction of a party), the party can either cause proceedings to be taken
in accordance with its law or furnish such information and evidence as
may be in its possession that a violation has occurred (Article 4 paragraph
2(a)每(b) to the Administration of the ship concerned. Article 4 paragraph
(1) further provides that, if the Administration of a ship involved in a violation
is informed of it and is satisfi ed that suffi cient evidence is available
to enable proceedings to be brought, that Administration shall cause such
proceedings to be taken as soon as possible, in accordance with its law. It
may be also noted that &any violation* in Article 4 paragraph 2 means that
it applies to operational and discharge standards, as well as to design and
equipment standards of the Convention.108 MARPOL 73/78 provides that
the parties to the Convention &shall co-operate in the detection of violations
and the enforcement of the provisions of the present Convention, using
all appropriate and practicable measures of detection and environmental
monitoring adequate procedures for reporting and accumulation of evidence*
(Article 6 paragraph 1). Further, it states:
any Party shall furnish to the Administration evidence, if any, that the ship
has discharged harmful substances of effl uents containing such substances in
violation of the provisions or the Regulations. If it is practicable to do so, the
competent authority of the former party shall notify the master of the ship of
the alleged violation [Article 6 paragraph 3].
Parties have a duty to furnish to the Administration information on the
discharge of harmful substances or effl uents. Upon the receipt of such evidence,
the Administration so informed is to investigate the matter and may
request the other party to furnish further or better evidence of the alleged
108 Abecassis et al., supra note 102, at 93.
Precautionary principle 35
contravention. If the Administration is satisfi ed that suffi cient evidence is
available to enable proceedings to be taken in accordance with its law it
shall do so as soon as possible. The Administration shall promptly inform
the party which has reported the alleged violation, as well as the IMO, of
the action taken (Article 6 paragraph 4).
With respect to the ships of non-parties to MARPOL 73/78, the
Parties are to apply such requirements as may be necessary to ensure
that no more favourable treatment is given to such ships (Article 5). The
measures under Article 5 are the source of some doctrinal controversy
in so far as they purport to apply to ships fl ying the fl ag of non-parties.
As an exercise of the jurisdiction of the coastal State over foreign ships,
this provision cannot, according to one of the authors, restrict the rights
enjoyed by non-parties under the general international law principle pacta
tertiis nec nocent nec prosunt. According to Willish, the provisions, which
oblige parties to apply the requirements of a convention to ships fl ying
the fl ag of non-parties, is, under this principle, subject to the geographical
limitations of a coastal State*s jurisdiction as determined by general
international law:
The right to apply the treaty-requirements to non-parties is also subject to the
customary right of innocent passage, which, at present, only insofar requires
compliance with pollution regulations of coastal states as those regulations
do not exceed the customary or treaty obligations in force between both states
concerned.109
(b) MARPOL 73/78 and the Precautionary Principle Generally
The MARPOL 73/78 Convention, although very far-reaching and innovative
in the enforcement of environmental regulations, does not include
any explicit provision on precautionary principle. However, the Marine
Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO on 15 September
1995 adopted a Resolution on Guidelines on the Incorporation of the
Precautionary Approach in the Context of Specifi c IMO Activities.110
The Resolution relates to Agenda 21 as well as Principle 15 of the Rio
Declaration. The precautionary principle was implemented on the basis
of this Resolution as an interim measure, &until further experience with
their [i.e. the guidelines] application has been gained*. The Resolution also
requested all relevant IMO bodies to review the guidelines and submit
109 J. Willish, State Responsibility for Technological Damage in International Law (1987),
at 115.
110 Annex 10, MEPC 37/22, Add.1.
36 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
comments to the MEPC with a view to their eventual submission to the
Assembly for the adoption of guidelines for all relevant IMO activities. The
Annex to this Resolution gives specifi c guidelines on the implementation
of this approach. Guidelines rely on Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration as
the fundamental defi nition of the precautionary approach and on Agenda
21 chapter 17 on the manner of its application.111
The Guidelines presented the whole list of elements to be taken into consideration
in order routinely to incorporate the precautionary approach
into the decision-making process of the IMO:
1. anticipation and prevention of environmental problems arising from any
regulatory activities of IMO and striving for continual improvement in all
facets of those activities;
2. that solution to problems and consideration of new and existing policies,
programmes, guidelines and regulations are developed in accordance with
the precautionary approach;
3. that where action is necessary and options may involve uncertainty, all
options are evaluated consistent with the precautionary approach;
4. adoption of cost eff ective practices and practical solutions to problems and
promotion of their continued development;
5. where appropriate, that decision-making is preceded by environmental
assessment and risk analysis to identify the environmental impacts of the
proposed or alternative courses of action, whether these impacts can be
prevented or minimised and how this might be done;
111 In particular, paras 17.21 and 17.22. These state:
&17.21 A precautionary and anticipatory rather than a reactive approach is necessary to
prevent the degradation of the marine environment. This requires, inter alia, the adoption
of precautionary measures, environmental impact assessments, clean production techniques,
recycling, waste audits and minimisation, construction and/or improvement of
sewage treatment facilities, quality management criteria for proper handling of hazardous
substances, and a comprehensive approach to damaging impacts from air, land and water.
Any management framework must include the improvement of coastal human settlements
and the integrated management and development of coastal areas. 17.22. States, in accordance
with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on
protection and preservation of the marine environment, commit themselves, in accordance
with their policies, priorities and resources, to prevent, reduce and control degradation of
the marine environment as to maintain its life-support and productive capacities. To this
end, it is necessary to: (a) Apply preventive, precautionary and anticipatory approaches as
to avoid degradation of the marine environment, as well as to reduce the risk of long-term
or irreversible adverse eff ect upon it; (b) Ensure prior assessment of activities that may have
signifi cant adverse impacts upon the marine environment; (c) Integrate protection of the
marine environment into relevant general environmental, social and economic development
policies; (d) develop economic incentives, where appropriate, to apply clean technologies
and other means consistent with the normalisation of environmental costs, such as
polluter pays principle, so to avoid degradation of the marine environment; (e) Improve the
living standards of coastal population in developing countries, as to contribute to reducing
the degradation of coastal and marine environment*.
Precautionary principle 37
6. improvement in decision-making and management by obtaining and providing
baseline and other data, identifying and explaining environmental
changes;
7. promotion of national and international research, analysis and information
programmes to identify, understand and disseminate information
about threats to the environment from maritime operations, to contribute
to defi ning the problems, including analysis of the degree of risk involved,
by which uncertainties are reduced, and developing and testing solutions
to problems;
8. consideration and adoption of economic incentives to encourage environmental
responsibility as to conserve the marine environment and avoid
further degradation;
9. support for development of new and existing policies, programmes, guidelines
or regulations. Where appropriate, which contribute to the protection
and enhancement of the marine and coastal environment consistent with
IMO mandate;
10. that, as necessary and appropriate, IMO should, through programmes
such as its Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, assist countries
to improve their capabilities in order to comply with IMO standards in the
shortest possible time;
11. where existing practices fail to provide adequate environmental protection,
encouragement of the development and use of cost-eff ective interim
protective measures with feasible time frames, which include best environmental
practice and best available technology;
12. promotion of clean technologies and waste minimization techniques
from maritime activities, including the best environmental practice
and best available technology to ensure improving environmental
performance.
The Resolution also stresses that the precautionary approach should not
be considered in isolation from other IMO practices, procedures and resolutions,
including resolutions A.500112 and A.777113 and principles such a
&polluter pays* principle as refl ected in Rio Declaration Principle 16. The
document entitled &Framework for Incorporation of the Precautionary
Principle into the Programmes and Activities of IMO* outlines the management
and decision-making framework to be followed in order to
112 The importance of this requirement is demonstrated in IMO Resolution A.5000 (XII)
wherein the Assembly recommended to its Council that proposals for new conventions or
amendments should only be entertained if there was &a clear and well-documented demonstration
of a compelling need*. This recommendation refl ects the Assembly*s concern that, in
order to ensure the eff ective widespread implementation of IMO legal instruments, account
has to be taken of the &diff erences in available technical resources and in the processes of
legislation amongst member States*.
113 Resolution A.777 (18 Adopted on 4 November 1993) (Agenda item 27) on Work
Methods and Organisation of Work in Committees and their Subsidiary Bodies.
38 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
promote the incorporation of preventive, precautionary and anticipatory
approaches.114
In conclusion we may say that these are the main features of the precautionary
approach of the IMO:
(i) the IMO supports the precautionary approach, not principle, which
is in line with the formulation adopted by Principle 15 of the Rio
Declaration;115
(ii) the precautionary approach has to be applied in case of uncertainty;
however,
(iii) it has to be cost-eff ective;
(iv) environment impact assessment forms an indispensable part of the
implementation of the precautionary approach;
(v) access to and dissemination of information should be promoted;
(vi) national and international research (such as risk analysis) must be
conducted;
114 These are the guidelines:
&1. Consistent with resources and workload demand, the review and considerations should
include environmental assessments an a systematic review of IMO*s work (Review and
consider environmental risks when prioritizing IMO*s work); 2. In developing measures
to prevent or reduce pollution, priority should be given to the use of cost-eff ective pollution
prevention measures such as clean production, product substitution, and waste
minimisation. Not engaging in pollution activities should be considered as an option when
there are imminent threats of serious or irreversible damage (Evaluate feasibility of pollution
prevention measures); 3. Where pollution prevention measured are not available,
discharge standards or other cost-eff ective measures to protect the marine environment
should be established, based upon the best available scientifi c information. This should
include consideration of the results of any environmental assessments used in step (Where
measures under (2) are not available, use best available information and science to set
standards); 4. In developing environmental measures, consideration should also be given
to the steps needed for their eff ective implementation. This might include enforcement
provisions, verifi cation procedures and techniques, achievable schedules and deadlines,
and capacity building and technical co-operation programmes for developing countries
(Identify implementation steps and procedures); 5. Where scientifi c uncertainties arise as
to the suffi ciency of standards, targets or the availability of appropriate technology, these
uncertainties should be identifi ed. The results should be used to be incorporated into an
action plan used to encourage and promote, within IMO and the Member States, research
to reduce or eliminate the uncertainties. The outcome of such research should then be used
to review and improve the measures adopted and to establish, where appropriate, phase-in
dates for improved technology (Promote research or gather more data to reduce uncertainties
or improve technology); 6. Following development of measures, their eff ectiveness in
protecting the environment and the extent to which they are actually implemented must
be reviewed. If the measures do not prove eff ective or not being successfully implemented,
then appropriate correcting measures should be undertaken (Assess the eff ectiveness of
implementation).*
115 On the debate on the precautionary approach and principle see above, pp. 35 et seq.
Precautionary principle 39
(vii) the conservation of the marine environment may be achieved
through the adoption of economic incentives;
(viii) the IMO through various programmes will assist countries where
necessary in improving their capabilities of achieving the IMO
standards;
(ix) new practices will be introduced based on best environmental practice
and the best available technology.
The above elements of the implementation of the precautionary approach
follow the general concept of what constitutes the precautionary approach.
The inherent vagueness of &scientifi c uncertainty* and the risk of long-term
or irreversible adverse eff ects on the environment are counterbalanced by
the presence of the environmental impact assessment, the duty to inform
and the use of the best available technology and best environmental practice
(or the &BATBEP*), which are the most tangible constituents of the
approach.
Therefore, the next step is going to be the investigation and legal analysis
of the relevant provisions contained in the IMO selected instruments and
the analysis of the extent to which the obligations contain therein embrace
this principle.
The Fourth Meeting of the Open-Ended Consultative Process on
Oceans and the Law resulted in several interesting postulates which further
evidence the unclear character of the precautionary principle, as well as
the fact that in the practice of States the application of this principle competes
with other principles and with cost eff ectiveness. First, mention must
be made that the attitude adopted by this Meeting to the precautionary
approach in relation to all activities which relate to the marine environment
(therefore also to those covered by MARPOL) is, in principle, guided
by the idea of its general, universal application based on the link between
the safety of navigation and the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems.
116 Therefore the preferred approach is a holistic one, i.e. the overall
application of a precautionary approach in an integrated manner to all
activities and all ships without exceptions.
However, interventions by States (even very environmentally minded
ones such as Norway) at the Meeting clearly indicate that their understanding
of the role of the precautionary principle was not in line with
this approach or with its extensive formulation in the 1995 Guidelines.
The discussion was focused on general applicability of the precautionary
116 A. Bisiaux et al., &Highlights from the Fourth Meeting of the Consultative Process*,
25 Earth Negotiations Bulletin No. 4, 5 June 2003, available online at: www.iisd.ca/vol25/
enb2504e.html.
40 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
principle within the framework of shipping and environmental protection.
For example, Norway*s intervention was interesting as it observed
that UNCLOS does not envisage environmental precautionary measures
in relation to ships which meet international standards. The issue of the
application of the precautionary approach has proved to be very contentious.
New Zealand expressed its concern already over the diversion of
single hull tankers to other than European waters as a consequence of
the measures adopted by the EU following the Prestige disaster which
were not even precautionary but preventive in nature. That State emphasized
also that the adoption of the precautionary approach was likely to
raise inspection costs. Some States (such as the Russian Federation) very
strongly opposed any regional and unilateral measures which impeded
commercial navigation. Therefore, it may be presumed that some precautionary
measures, even regional, which impact on world navigation were
not fully approved of. China stressed the importance of freedom of navigation
and environmental protection and sought a solution in the proper
balancing of both within the structure of international law. As evidenced
by the above debates, certain States appeared to oppose the introduction of
stricter measures in line with the precautionary or even at times preventive
principles (as discussed below).
(c) Vessel Oil Spill Prevention117 under MARPOL 73/78 and other IMO
Conventions
In this part of the Chapter, it will be argued that the means that the IMO
has adopted to prevent oil spills are preventive, not precautionary, in
nature; also that even these means are not fully successful in preventing
oil pollution as they are not fully complied with. Therefore, compliance
with more far reaching precautionary measures could prove to be even
more problematic.
Likewise, it will be shown that the vessel oil pollution regulation under
MARPOL 73/78 often fails to fulfi l the requirements not just of the precautionary
principle, but also of the principle of prevention. The industry and
the IMO devote much time and eff ort to introducing prevention as regards
oil spills. International Oil Spill Conferences are annual events, and there
are workshops following these events. For example, in 2004 the Prevention
Workshop on &Prevention, what are the next challenges* was organized at
117 S.A. Lentz and F. Felleman, &Oil Spill Prevention: A Proactive Approach*,
International Oil Spill Conference (the &IOSC*) (2003), available online at http://www.iosc.
org/docs/IssuePaper1.pdf.
Precautionary principle 41
the IMO in London.118 It should be very strongly stressed that despite the
adoption of the precautionary approach Guidelines, the IMO generally
and the MARPOL 73/78 specifi cally are concerned with prevention, but
not precaution, regarding oil spills (see below).
As explained, vessel source input (how much oil is discharged to the sea
based on the source of the vessel) could be categorized in the following
manner: tankers; barges; non-tankers; recreational vessels; fi shing vessels;
and passenger vessels. There are two main categories of inputs: accidental
spills which originate e.g. from collisions, and operational discharges,
such as e.g. oil contained in ballast water and oil discharged in bilge water.
Lentz and Felleman observed: &[r]ecent evidence indicates widespread
by-passing of oil/water separators, in direct contravention of MARPOL
operational discharges limitations.*119 Therefore it appears that the adoption
of the precautionary approach by the IMO has not been very successful,
because, as evidenced by several examples below, even the standard
preventive measures are not followed. The same authors noted that the
volume of operational spills had been underestimated on the assumption
that the reduction in spills was the result of compliance with international
regulations.120
There have also been instances of false waste oil disposal statements in
ships* record books, to the eff ect that waste oil was being incinerated on
board, whilst in reality it was being discharged into the Pacifi c Ocean via
a secret bypass hose. Other research indicates that certain shippers may be
intentionally modifying oil/water separators in order to discharge illegal
quantities of oil into the sea. In Canada, it is estimated that between 60,000
and 100,000 birds are killed annually on the South Coast of Newfoundland
as a result of illegal oil pollution. Europe is also an area where such incidents
take place. In the &special areas* designated under MARPOL, such
as the Baltic Sea, over 800 illegal spills were detected in 1998 and more
than 1,100 in 1997, which indicates that &non-compliance runs rampant
in this heavily monitored area, and calls in question OIS assumptions*.121
Another factor which contributes to this unsatisfactory state of aff airs is
the absence of adequate reception facilities, even in States which are parties
118 Prevention Workshop, &Prevention: What are the next Challenges?*, available online
at: http://pims.ed.ornl.gov/2005_IOSC_workshop_fi nal_report.pdf.
119 Lentz/Felleman, supra note 117, at 3. The same source indicates that non-tank accidental
spills (100 gross tonnes per year and above) discharge an average of 7100 tonnes of oil
per year worldwide in the marine environment. They also contribute to at least 270,000 tonnes
in operational discharges (machinery space bilge oil, fuel oil sludge, and oily ballast are the
sources of operational discharges from non-tank vessels).
120 Ibid., at 6.
121 Ibid. All data come from the same source.
42 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
to MARPOL Annex 1, which requires them. Accidental discharges from
non-tank vessels are mostly related to non-compliance with MARPOL
discharge regulations, an area which is not suffi ciently researched, as well
as the provision of stricter monitoring and enforcement policies.122
There are several measures, apart from spill response capability,
which, according to experts, &purport to address prevention*, but do not
involve the principle of precaution.123 These are as follows: double-hull
requirements; vessel management requirements (e.g., International Safety
Management (ISM Code); vessel crew licensing certifi cation and training
requirements (e.g., development of Standards of Training, Certifi cation
and Watchkeeping (STCW); and Port State control in,spections. All these
instruments are in fact based on the adoption of preventive, rather than
precautionary, measures. It is unquestionable that double hulls are eff ective
in spill control. Prevention of oil spills is closely related to ship design;
however, there is a whole host of issues concerning design which have not
yet been incorporated into spill prevention.124 As mentioned above, the
ISM Code also has an important preventive function, as it applies to all
passenger vessels, oil tankers; chemical tankers, gas carriers, bulk carriers
and high speed craft of 500 gross tonnes or more on an inter-national
level.125 However:
the jury is still out on the effi cacy of the ISM Code. The structure of the Code
has the real potential to be little more than a paper exercise. Its eff ectiveness
relies heavily on the commitment of ship managers to diligently carry out its
implementation. To date there has been no systematic evaluation of the level
of such commitment by which to judge its eff ectiveness.126
The new 2002 (amended) International Convention on Standards of
Training, Certifi cation and Watchkeeping for Seafarers is too recent for
one to be able to assess its eff ectiveness, and the validity of standards which
were applied by the IMO in awarding &white list* status but which were,
anyhow, questioned by some industries. 127 This Convention is based on
122 Ibid., at 7.
123 Ibid., at 9.
124 Lenz and Fellemann mention requirements for redundancy, alarm and automatic
changeover for steering gear in the event of a single failure; an increased powering requirement;
a requirement for emergency or redundant propulsion; improved longitudinal bending
movements; restricted use of high tensile steel for internal structures; and a requirement for
inherent positive stability throughout cargo and ballast handling: ibid., at 9.
125 Ibid. The ISM Code was eff ective as of July 1998.
126 Ibid., at 10.
127 Ibid. The &White List* is compiled by the IMO and contains the register of compliant
countries from which it recruits crews and offi cers.
Precautionary principle 43
standards which are fully established and not precautionary. Port State
control and fl ag State accountability are also not very eff ective means of
oil spill prevention, due fi rst to the failure of some States to comply with
internationally agreed standards and, secondly, to the absence of any
serious consequences in cases of such failure.128 Salvage as a preventive,
again not as a precautionary, measure is, according to the same authors,
not very encouraging. Despite the existence of international instruments
to this eff ect, such as the 1989 International Salvage Convention and other
schemes, e.g., SCOPIC (Special Compensation P&I Clause):
the economic viability of the salvage industry has been challenged over the past
few decades as improvements to ship safety have reduced the overall number
of major casualties. As a result, the salvage industry is also faced with a decline
in the numbers of trained and experienced personnel available to undertake
complex salvage operations.129
However when catastrophe occurs, &[e]nvironmental consequences can
be devastating*.130 The polluter-pays principle &creates little more than
a ※paper tiger,§ providing minimal salvage capability and readiness*.131
Salvage as a tool in the prevention of pollution also means the establishment
of an effi cient system of wreck removal. Finally the authors of this
excellent essay mention the additional factors which are benefi cial in the
prevention of oil spills: the creation of &safe heavens* or &ports of refuge*;
the prevention of operational discharges. Voluntary industry initiatives to
reduce the number of spills, although quite eff ective in many ways, are not
pursued by companies which could most benefi t from them as:
the owners and operators of sub-standard ships are not likely to invest in
voluntary eff orts to improve performance beyond that which is required by
regulation. For these organisations, regulatory mandates are necessary.132
Finally, there are two more factors which are important for the prevention
of oil spills: the human element and the responsibility of the charterer. The
fi rst of these involves additional economic costs (e.g., training) which may
clash with short-term interests of shareholders; as to the second, there is
little incentive to encourage the high standard of shipping in the current
structure of marine petroleum transport, the major problem being the
128 Ibid., at 9每11.
129 Ibid., at 12.
130 Ibid.
131 Ibid., at 13.
132 Ibid., at 15.
44 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
absence of the responsibility of the charterer, which could be solved by
shared liability between shipper and charterer in order to achieve the
highest standard of shipping.133
There is also a cluster of other factors which are repeatedly mentioned by
many authors as necessary in oil spill prevention. For example, the lessons
learned from past incidents are a very important part of the whole prevention
process, as they lead to the designing of new, more effi cient procedures
and the improvement of existing ones. Of the greatest importance is eff ective
statutory reporting, which is indispensable for the achievement of
transparency, without which the avoidance of oil spills is impossible. Such
reports are best gathered and analysed by governments with the cooperation
of industry.134 Notwithstanding many improvements, there are a
great number of incidents caused by many various factors: human factors;
mechanical failure; management systems/procedural weakness; regulatory
weakness; and security, which in general are a lack of prevention, not
precaution, as incidents are a result of not following the conventional
rules.135 The ways to improve the existing situation depend on the division
of rules and responsibilities between industry and government. First, to
achieve prevention responsibility must be shared. The primary responsibility
for enforcement belongs to governments. Prevention cannot be
achieved in the absence of funding and resourcing. Mention must also be
made of the improvement of communication with the public and media.
Very importantly, international regulations must be followed.136 These
should be an improvement on those currently existing in MARPOL 73/78
and the OPRC Convention, and to this eff ect the development of Global
Environmental Standards is recommended.137 Risk management is a complicated
issue as it is linked to costs. The normal practice is to balance risk
management and the expenses involved. Often it is decided that no further
133 Ibid.
134 See Figure 2, &Prevention and Response*, in the Workshop on Prevention, supra note
118, at 5.
135 Ibid., at 6. The Workshop came up with the following key points:
Key points to History and Learning from the Past:
♂ Need for more attention to Human Factors and Culture.
♂ Need for management system guidance for newcomers and new facilities in an
organisation.
♂ Need for better knowledge transfer and use of Corporate Memory.
♂ Need for improvement of reporting of Near Misses and Hazardous Conditions.
♂ Lessens Learned from oil spills should be better applied to prevent future spills.
♂ Need for openness in reporting and discussing incidents.
136 Ibid., at 8.
137 Ibid., at 9.
Precautionary principle 45
expenditure should be involved if it leads to disproportionate costs and
no marked risk improvement. &In many real business circumstances, the
expenditures can only be justifi ed on a cost eff ectiveness basis*.138 Such
an approach further indicates the reluctance of stakeholders to assume
the greater costs that would be incurred by reliance on the precautionary
approach. The other factors also mentioned are security (the IMO has
introduced the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code) and
the management of natural disasters and education, which should be a
joint eff ort by, inter alia, the IMO, oil industry and coastguards.139
The oil pollution problem is at present one of the major projects funded
by the European Union entitled: &Pollution Prevention and Control-Safe
Transportation of Hazardous Goods by Tankers*.140 This project*s aim
is:
to deliver a framework and suitable tools for a methodological assessment of
risk to be undertaken to provide a rational basis for making decisions pertaining
[to] the design, operation and regulation of oil tankers . . . The project brings
together prime protagonists from the area of maritime safety in Europe.141
However, as practice shows, even these well established preventive (not
precautionary) means fail as oil spills still occur and often they are the
direct cause of the new regulations or amendments by the IMO concerning
MARPOL 73/78. For example, after the Exxon Valdez accident MARPOL
was amended to the eff ect that it was obligatory for new and existing
tankers of 5,000 DWT and more after 6 July 1993 to be fi tted with double
hulls, or an alternative design approved by the IMO. The Erika accident
resulted in a new, stricter timetable for phasing out single-hull tankers, and
the principal phasing-out date was the year 2015. The 2002 Prestige incident
prompted EU Regulation 1726/2002142 to introduce a new, stricter set
of timelines for the phasing-out of single-hull tankers. The IMO followed
by the adoption by the MEPC on 4 December 2003 of a revised Regulation
13 G,143 and in addition the new Regulation 13 H of Annex 1 to MARPOL
138 Ibid. In the UK, the process of balancing of expenditures and no marked risk minimization
is called reducing the risk to a level As Low as Reasonably Practicable (&ALARP*).
139 Ibid., at 10每11.
140 S. Aksu et al., &A Risk-Based Design Methodology for Pollution Prevention and
Control*, available online at: http://www.pop-c.org/news/documents/RINA%20paper%20
2003.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
141 Ibid., at 1.
142 OJL 249, 1 October 2003.
143 Both Regulations entered into force on 5 April 2005. Regulation 13G concerns the
prevention of oil pollution from tankers carrying heavy grade oil (the &HGO*). HGO means
any of the following: crude oils having a density at 15 degrees Celsius higher than 900 kg/m3;
46 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
73/78 setting the fi nal phasing-out date for Category 1 tankers, which
predate MARPOL, was brought forward to 2005 from 2007. Category 2
and 3 tankers are scheduled to be phased out in 2010 (brought forward
from 2015).
National communications concerning certain aspects of the implementation
of Regulations 13G and 13H evidence the lack of uniformity,
mostly regarding the national incorporation of the timetable for
phasing out of certain tankers, such as those below 5000 DTW.144 These
Regulations grant the possibility of exemptions. For example several
States, such as Japan, give &favourable consideration* to the several
exemptions regarding the operation of their oil tankers after the phaseout
date.145
Under the regime implemented by the European Union and the States
of the European Economic Area, somewhat stricter measures were adopted.
146 Other States such as China also followed a stricter regime in their
fuel oils having either a density at 15 degrees Celsius higher than 900 kg/m3 kinematic viscosity
at 50 degrees higher than 180 mm 2/s (cSt); bitumen, tar and their emulsions. This Regulation
bans the carriage of HGO in single-hull tankers of 5000 tones DWT and above after the date
of entry into force of the Regulation (5 April 2005) and in single-hull oil tankers of 600 DWT
and above but less than 5000 tons DWT, not later than the anniversary of their delivery date
in 2008. In the case of certain category 2 and 3 tankers carrying HGO cargo, fi tted only with
double bottoms or double sides, not used for the carriage of oil and extending to the entire
cargo tank length, to tankers fi tted with double hull spaces not meeting the minimum distance
protection requirements, which are not used for the carriage of oil and extend to the whole
cargo tank length, the Flag State, under certain conditions, may not ban the operation of such
ships beyond 5 April 2005 until the date on which they reach 25 years of age calculated from
the date of their delivery. The Flag State may exempt an oil tanker of 600 DWT and above
carrying HGO if the ship*s route is exclusively within the area under the party*s jurisdiction
or under the jurisdiction of another party, provided that the party under whose jurisdiction
the ship will be operating agrees. A party to MARPOL 73/78 can deny the entry of singlehull
tankers carrying HGO which have been allowed to operate under the exemptions into
ports or off shore terminals under its jurisdiction, or prohibit ship-to-ship transfer of HGO in
areas under its jurisdiction except when it is necessary for the safety of the ship or the saving
of lives at sea. All information is available online at: http://www.imo.org/Safety/mainframe.
asp?topic_id=1043.
144 All information is available online at: http://www.imoorg/Safety/mainframe.asp?
topic_id=1046.
145 These tankers are allowed to continue operation after the phase out date, providing
that have double sides and bottoms (Regulation 13G (5), and according to Regulation 13G
(7), complied with CAS Requirement, but no later than 25 years from the date of delivery or
2015, whichever was earlier. The same &favourable consideration* applies to Japanese fl agged
oil tankers having on board a heavy grade oil to continue operation beyond 8 April 2005,
providing that the vessel is in compliance with conditions described in Regulations 13(G) and
13 (H), but no later than 2015. Japanese oil tankers below 5000 DWT may be allowed under
Regulation 13(6)(a) after 5 April 2005.
146 As far as the implementation of Regulation 13G is concerned the EU members will
follow the scheme set out in Regulation 13H, with the following exceptions:
Precautionary principle 47
implementation of Regulations.147 The United States sent a reply that
these Regulations would not apply since the express approval of the US
Government would be necessary before both Regulations could enter into
force. The communication read, inter alia, as follows:
Since the US is not a party to the aforementioned regulations, the U.S. Coastal
Guard cannot enforce its provisions or compel U.S. vessels owners to comply.
Further, because of our offi cial reservation status our national law does not
recognise the amended MARPOL regulations, and the U.S. is not obliged to
record MARPOL phase-out dates on the Form B Supplement of International
Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) Certifi cates.148
Moreover, US law does not require vessels to meet the requirements of the
Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS).149
♂ after 2015, there will be no single-hull tankers calling at EU ports or off shore terminals
under EU States* jurisdiction, including category 2 and 3 tankers complying with
Regulation 13(G), i.e. double bottomed or double-sided tankers;
♂ after 2010, any single single-hull tanker which may be granted a phase-out extension
date under its Flag State (Regulation 13(G)(7)) will be banned from entry into EU ports
or off shore terminals under these States* jurisdiction.
From April 2005, the EU States banned all single-hull oil tankers carrying heavy oils,
including tankers which are given permission for such trade by their fl ag State, according to
Regulation 13(H)(5).
147 As far as oil tankers fl ying the fl ag of China are concerned, double-sided and doublebottomed
tankers will be allowed to continue to trade until their 25th anniversary, but no
later than 2015 (Regulation 13G(5)). Chinese single-bottomed and single-sided tankers will be
prohibited from trading beyond their phase-out date (Regulation G(7)). Singe-bottomed and
singe-sided tankers will not be permitted to trade beyond their phase-out date (Regulation
13G(7)). Chinese single-bottomed tankers and single-sided tankers will not be allowed to
transport heavy grade oil or crude oil with densities over 900Kg/m3 beyond their phase-out
date, according to Regulation 14(G)(4), notwithstanding any extension granted by the fl ag
State. As of 5 April 2005, foreign fl ag single-hull tankers transporting heavy grade oil are
not allowed in the ports of China, with the exception of single-sided or double-bottomed
tankers which are less than 20 years old. See http://imo.org/includes/blast/DataOnly.asp/
data_id%3D11763/440.pdf.
148 See http://www.imo.org/includes/blastDataOnly.asp/date_id%3D11485/430.pdf (last
visited on 10 July 2008).
149 The Communication asserted that:
&in the spirit of international cooperation, the Coastal Guard will continue to record
MARPOL single hull phase-out dates on the Form B Supplement of IOPP Certifi cates for
other vessels sailing internationally. Moreover, while no CAS provisions exist in the U.S.
law, we encourage U.S. vessels operators to voluntarily comply with CAS as needed. We
established a voluntary program to meet this need and will issue a Statement of Voluntary
Compliance to vessels that fully comply with Resolution MEPC. 94(46). We are developing
a directive which outlines this policy . . . .*
Available online at: http://www.imo.org/includes/blastDataOnly.asp/data_id%3D11485/
430.pdf.
48 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Considering the divergent schedule of implementation of Regulations
13G and 13H (or, as in the case of the United States, their nonimplementation)
and permissible multiple exemptions, it may be asked
what is the content of the rule contained in Regulations 13G and 13H.
First of all, as observed above, both Regulations were the result of serious
accidents (the Erika and the Prestige), therefore, its enactment was reactive
not proactive, or anticipatory and with full knowledge of all scientifi c facts.
Therefore, these Regulations were preventive at best, as they were long
overdue, since the dangers of the use of single-hull tankers were well known
for a considerable period of time. A wrong conclusion would be reached
therefore in the assertion that the adoption of Regulations 13H and 13G
was the refl ection of the application of the precautionary principle of the
IMO in practice. It was a necessary measure, the adoption of which was
prompted by accidents rather than being a result of rational or precautionary
policy. It must be noted that it is well acknowledged legislative practice
within the IMO that stricter regulatory measures follow accidents. Such
legislative practice is not in accordance with the gist of the precautionary
principle.
The application of merely preventive measures is riddled with diffi -
culties and in urgent need of improvement. Although the IMO in 1995
adopted the Resolution on the application of the precautionary approach,
it appears in light of the current practice of this organization that it has
not yet been applied. There is still a lot to be done in order to adopt fully
merely preventive principles, starting with the basic requirements of the
compilation of relevant data, which are often sketchy or incorrect. Other
fundamental elements of prevention are also neglected: design, safety, education,
the training of seafarers, the lack of adequate domestic regulatory
schemes, only partially implemented international rules, etc.; in short, all
the areas which provide basic prevention against oil pollution. Application
of the precautionary approach (principle) is a task in the implementation of
which a multitude of actors are involved: the IMO, tanker owners, operators
and the oil industry. Therefore, the IMO*s best intentions and eff orts
in following the precautionary principle depend on concerted and coordinated
action by all involved and interested actors: a truly daunting task.
Lastly, the precautionary principle is a proactive one, i.e. action is required
before even full scientifi c evidence is available. Oil pollution is very much
based on a reactive approach, as evidenced by the double-hull regulations.
It requires the occurrence of many serious accidents to introduce
new, stricter regulations, since economic factors and cost-eff ectiveness
certainly play a pivotal role. The adoption of any measures is the result
of the balancing of interests test and, as it stands at present, the nexus of
existing (often contradictory) interests and a multitude of actors makes
Precautionary principle 49
it very problematic to apply the precautionary principle at this stage of
cooperation, especially in the view that the implementation of preventative
measures causes problems. It may be added that the prevention of oil pollution
is one of the best-established areas of the protection of the marine
environment. Therefore, if the adoption of the precautionary principle is
met with diffi culties there, it may be even more far fetched in other less
regulated areas of marine protection.
3. Dumping at Sea
(a) A Short Description of the London Convention and the 1996 Protocol
This section will mainly analyse the provisions and practice of the 1972
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes
and Other Matter (the &London Convention*)150 and the 1996 Protocol151
from the point of view of the implementation of the precautionary
principle.152
The London Convention is a global convention.153 It defi nes dumping as
the deliberate disposal at sea of waste or other matter from vessels, aircraft,
platforms or other man-made structures, as well as deliberate disposal of
these vessels or platforms themselves.
The Convention in general regulates the international control and prevention
of marine pollution. It prohibits the dumping of certain hazardous
materials unless as the result of prior and general special permits. Special
permits relate to the dumping of certain other specifi ed groups of hazardous
materials and a general permit is required for other waste or matter. The
general defi nition of dumping does not, however, include the exploration
and exploitation of seabed mineral resources. The London Convention
adopted a classical approach to dumping at sea, i.e. the introduction of
the so-called black and grey lists. The black list enumerates substances the
dumping of which is prohibited; and the grey list substances the dumping
of which is permitted only under strict control and certain conditions.
150 O.S. Stokke, &Beyond Dumping? The Eff ectiveness of the London Convention*, Yearbook
of International Co-operation on Environmental and Development (1998/99) 39, at 39每49.
151 Entered into force on 24 March 2006. So far 30 States are Parties to the Protocol. See
on the Protocol R. Coenen, &Dumping of wastes at Sea: Adoption of the 1966 Protocol to the
London Convention 1972*, 6 RECIEL (1997) 54, at 54每61.
152 Information on this Convention may be obtained on the website: http://www.londonconvention.
org/main.htm (last visited on 10 July 2008). The Convention entered into force
on 30 August 1975.
153 As of 30 June 2005, there are 81 parties, which constitute 69.85% of the world
tonnage: http://www.imo.org/Conventions/mainframe.asp?topic_id=247 (last visited on 10
July 2008).
50 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The Convention is not applicable in relation to the securing of human
life or saving of vessels in the event of force majeur. The Convention promotes
international cooperation in the fi eld of monitoring and scientifi c
research. It has Annexes appended to it, which list prohibited wastes and
other waste for which a special permit is necessary. The criteria concerning
the issue of such permits are the subject of the third Annex, which also
deals with the nature of wastes, the characteristics of a dumping site and
the method of disposal.154
The 1996 Protocol is intended to replace the London Convention. States
can be parties to the 1972 Convention or to the Protocol or to both. The
1996 Protocol is much more restrictive than the 1972 London Convention and
adopted very innovative regulatory techniques in relation to dumping at sea.
The 1972 Convention permits dumping to be carried out, provided
certain conditions are met. The 1966 Protocol in principle prohibits all
dumping and therefore applies so-called reverse listing, i.e. all dumping
is prohibited (unless certain exceptions apply). Article 4 states that
Contracting Parties &shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes or other
matter with the exception of those listed in Annex 1*.155
(b) The Precautionary Principle in 1972 London Convention and the 1996
Protocol
The London Convention was signed in 1972 每 therefore the idea of the
precautionary principle had not yet entered the realm of international
154 All information was obtained from: http://www.imo.org/Conventions/contents.
asp?topic_id=268&doc_id=681 (last visited on 10 July 2008). The Convention was amended
several times: the 1978 amendments (entry into force 1979) on incineration of wastes and
other matter at sea; the 1978 amendments on a new procedure for the settlements of disputes;
1980 amendments (entry into force 1981) giving a list of substances which require special care
while incinerated; the 1993 amendments (entry into force 1994), which banned the dumping at
sea of low-grade radioactive wastes, as well as phasing out the dumping of industrial wastes
by 31 December 1995, banning the incineration at sea of industrial wastes. In 1983, the parties
to the London Convention adopted a Resolution to impose a moratorium on the dumping at
sea of low-grade radioactive waste. Further Resolutions called for the phasing out of industrial
waste dumping and the banning of the incineration at sea of noxious liquid substances.
155 These are: 1. Dredged material; 2. Sewage sludge; 3. Fish waste, or material resulting
from industrial fi sh processing operations; 4. Vessels and platforms or other man-made
structures at sea; 5. Inert, inorganic geological material; 6. Organic material of natural origin;
7. Bulky items primarily comprising iron, steel, concrete and similar unharmful materials for
which the concern is physical impact and limited to those circumstances where such waste is generated
at locations, such as small islands with isolated communities, having no practical access
to disposal options other than dumping. The only exceptions to this are contained in Article 8,
which permits dumping to be carried out &in cases of force majeure caused by stress of weather,
or in any case which constitutes a danger to human life or a real threat to vessels*. Incineration
of waste at sea was permitted under the 1972 Convention, but was later prohibited under amendments
adopted in 1993. It is specifi cally prohibited by Article 5 of the 1996 Protocol.
Precautionary principle 51
environmental law. However, in the spirit of the growing interest in the
protection of the environment, the parties to the London Convention in
1991 adopted Resolution 44/14 on the precautionary principle.156
One of the most fundamental changes introduced by the 1996 Protocol,
as compared to the 1972 Convention, was the incorporation into the text of
the Protocol (Article 3) of the precautionary approach.157 It must be noted
that the Preambular provisions of the Protocol read as follows:
Noting in this regard the achievements within the framework Convention on
the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter,
1972 and especially the evolution towards approaches based on precaution and
prevention . . .
The formulation of the precautionary approach in the 1991 Resolution
is fairly classical, i.e., it emphasizes the &lack of conclusive evidence* and
not fully proved &causal link*. Furthermore, the Resolution encourages
the implementation of clean production technology and the development
of scientifi c research. It is noteworthy that the Resolution recommends
both the adoption of the precautionary approach and the taking of
preventive measures. Therefore the strict division between them is not
maintained.
The Scientifi c Group at its twenty-second meeting, which was held
in 1999, acknowledged the importance of applying the precautionary
156 &Agrees that in implementing the London Dumping Convention the Contracting
Parties shall be guided by a precautionary approach to environmental protection whereby
appropriate preventive measures are taken when there is reason to believe that substances or
energy introduced in the marine environment are likely to cause harm when there is no conclusive
evidence to prove a causal relation between inputs and their eff ects; Agrees further that
Contracting Parties shall take all necessary steps to ensure the eff ective implementation of the
precautionary approach to environmental protection and to this end they shall (a) encourage
prevention of pollution at source, by application of clean production methods, including raw
materials selection, product substitution and clean production technology and processes and
waste minimisation throughout society; evaluation the environmental and economic consequences
of alternative methods of waste management, including long-term consequences; (c)
encourage and use as fully as possible scientifi c and socio-economic research in order to achieve
an improved understanding on which to base long-range policy options; (d) endeavour to
reduce risk and scientifi c uncertainty relating to proposed disposal operations; and (e) continue
to take measures to ensure that potential adverse eff ects of any dumping are minimised, and
that adequate monitoring is provided for early detection and mitigated of these impacts*.
157 Article 3 (1):
&[i]n implementing this Protocol, Contracting Parties shall apply a precautionary approach
to environmental protection, from dumping of wastes or other matter whereby appropriate
preventative measures are taken when there is a reason to believe that wastes or other
matter introduced into marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no
conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation inputs and their eff ects.*
52 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
approach when implementing the London Convention. In this context,
risk assessment procedures were kept under review. However, as the
Scientifi c Committee later observed at its twenty-seventh meeting, no
documents were submitted under this item. Delegations were invited to
submit their experiences to the twenty-eighth meeting of the Scientifi c
Group.158
The next step is to analyse the practice in relation to the precautionary
approach (principle) in certain areas of dumping at sea.159 One of the
best examples of this is to be found in the prohibition on the dumping of
radioactive waste, which is the standard example of the application of the
precautionary principle. However, as will be shown, other factors also to
a certain degree played a role in the adoption of the Moratorium on all
radioactive dumping.160 This prohibition under the London Convention
has had a very turbulent history, and even if it is assumed that the total
ban on radioactive dumping is an example of the application of the precautionary
approach, its enacting was very divisive and clearly indicated
that there were a number of diff erent approaches among States to the
necessity of producing full scientifi c evidence in order to form a basis for
the making of any amendment to London Convention.161 A moratorium
on all radioactive waste was adopted in 1983. However, Great Britain
158 IMO, Scientifi c Group Meeting, 2每7 May 2004, Agenda Item 15, LC/SG/27/15, 2 July
2004.
159 For the practice see the excellent IMO website: http://www.londonconvention.org/
main.htm (last visited on 10 July 2008). See also an ONA Project conducted by the Law of
the Sea Institute, at Berkeley, Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley, on &Oceans
in the Nuclear Age Project* (the &ONA* Project), one of the parts of which is Dumping
and Loss of Nuclear Material: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/ilr/ona/pages/dumping.
htm.
160 See in depth L. Ringius, Radioactive Waste Disposal at Sea: Public Idea, Transnational
Policy Entrepreneurs, and Environmental Regimes (2001). For a diff erent view, see Trouborst
II, supra, note 2, at 206.
161 It must be noted that, as a matter of a general policy, the decisions adopted within
the framework of the London Convention are based on a sound system with three strands of
scientifi c advice having been elaborated under the Convention. Thus:
♂ The broadest advisory mechanism is the Scientifi c Group on Dumping, comprising
experts nominated by the Contracting Parties, which evaluates and reviews existing
provisions and annexes in the light of new scientifi c information.
♂ Secondly, a range of ad hoc groups, such as the Group of Legal Experts on Dumping,
the Group of Experts on the Annexes, the Working Group on Dredged Materials
Disposal, the Working Group on Incineration at Sea, the Task Team on Liability and
the Panels on Sea Disposal of Radioactive Waste, have been set up to compile information
and advise the Consultative Meetings on especially vital or controversial matters.
♂ Thirdly, external organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), provide advice at the request of the Consultative Meetings on dumping of
radioactive material.
Precautionary principle 53
staunchly supported the necessity for full scientifi c evidence of adverse
health eff ects and damage to the environment.162 It may be argued that
as early as 1980 the precautionary approach was in the course of being
conceptualized, so that it did not fi gure in the discussion preceding the
moratorium. Charles D.G. Hollister of the World Hole Oceanographic
Institute, which is one of the most important marine research centres,
concluded that a sound scientifi c evaluation was necessary before the
introduction of any amendments to the London Convention.163 In fact
the British policy was reversed, mostly due to mounting international
pressure. The policy of the government of the Netherlands was noteworthy.
The statement of the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health
was as follows: &[t]his ministry is convinced that ocean dumping is a safe
disposal for wastes, but it is clear that our society does not want oceandumping*.
164 Therefore, in some cases adherence to the moratorium
was based rather on policy considerations than the application of the
precautionary principle.
The period after the imposition of the moratorium was also characterized
by very heated discussions between States which supported the ban
on the basis of the precautionary principle and States which suggested that
there were no scientifi c or technical grounds to be found to prohibit the
dumping at sea of all radioactive wastes, providing this dumping followed
all internationally agreed procedures and controls. The period leading to
the adoption of the ban was characterized by the polarization of views of
States and, although in the end the ban was based on the precautionary
principle, there were still States, such as Great Britain, which traditionally
adhered to the regulation based on the assimilative capacity of the oceans.
As Ringius observes the scientifi c debate on radioactive waste disposal
also revolved to a signifi cant degree of discussion around the concept of
assimilative capacity.165
In 1993, the Parties agreed to amend Annexes I and II to the London
Convention to ban the dumping of all radioactive wastes.166 The precautionary
approach was not the only reason for this ban, however, but also:
The UK recognises that the weight of international opinion on this matter
means that such dumping is not, in any event, a practical proposition. We have,
therefore, decided to accept the ban.
162 Supra, note 165, at 140.
163 Ibid.
164 Ibid., at 137.
165 Ibid., at 149.
166 Resolution LC.51 (16), which entered into force in 1994.
54 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
as the UK Minister of Agriculture explained. Public opinion was also
instrumental in the Belgian government*s acceptance of the ban and the
reversal by the French government of its pro-dumping policy and the decision
to adopt the radioactive waste disposal ban. 167
Ringius makes a very interesting assessment of the role public opinion
played in the regulation of the disposal of nuclear wastes by dumping at
sea. He notes as follows:
The public, political leaders and ENGOs perceive radioactive waste and other
aspects of nuclear technology most negatively. What does it mean for the
&generalizability* of the fi ndings? It means that some caution is called for. It
should be expected that policy entrepreneurs could easily persuade the public
that ocean disposal of radwaste is a horrid anti-environmental activity. Because
international public opinion is likely to perceive radwaste disposal negatively,
mobilising domestic and international antidumping sentiments would be reasonably
straightforward for an infl uential ENGO. But it would be very hard to
convince the general public that the sea disposal is an environmentally neutral
and safe, and perhaps even an environmentally preferable, disposal option for
this radioactive waste.168
The application of the precautionary principle in the 1996 London
Protocol was also the subject of some degree of controversy. On 2 November
2006, at the First Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Protocol,
an amendment to Annex I was adopted so as to include &carbon dioxide
streams from carbon dioxide capture processes for sequestration*.169 It was
suggested that such amendments required a basis of full scientifi c knowledge
and might prove to be harmful if based only on the precautionary
principle. These streams may only be considered for dumping if (1) disposal
is into a sub-sea bed geological formation; (2) they consist mostly of carbon
dioxide as they may contain incidental substances deriving from the source
material and the capture and sequestration process used; and (3) no wastes
or other matter are added for the purpose of disposing of those wastes of
other matter.
Despite the views of Purdy and Macrory that &[d]isposing of CO2 in
sub-sea bed storage could bring into play the precautionary principle*,170
167 All information is derived from Ringius, supra note 170, at 152.
168 Ibid., at 181每182.
169 IMO Briefi ng 43/2006 (8 November 2006).LC-LP.1/Circ.5 (27 November 2006).
Notifi cation of amendments to Annex 1 to the London Protocol 1996, in force as of 10
February 2007. LC-LP.1/Cic.11 (16 February 2007), Notifi cation of entry into force of
amendments to Annex 1 to the London Protocol.
170 R. Purdy and R. Macrory, &Geological carbon Sequestration: Critical Legal Issues*,
Tyndall Centre Working Papers, No. 45, at 24 (2004).
Precautionary principle 55
as the latest developments indicate, however, this method of disposing of
CO2 may not be advisable without full scientifi c knowledge, thus rendering
the whole purpose of the application of the precautionary principle
doubtful.
The Scientifi c Group of the London Protocol was requested to develop
specifi c guidance on the application of Protocol Annex 2 to geological
sequestration, with a view to its adoption at the Second Meeting of the
Contracting Parties in November 2007. Until then, Parties are to use the
best available guidance.171
The Scientifi c Groups under the London Convention and the Protocol
expressed concerns, however, as to the eff ect of the large-scale fertilization
of the oceans to sequester carbon dioxide. The Group made the following
statement:
The Scientifi c Groups discussed several submissions relating to iron fertilization
of the oceans to sequester CO2, as part of their agenda, and issued the following
statement as a result of the meeting in June 2007: Large-scale fertilization
of ocean waters using micro-nutrients such as iron to stimulate phytoplankton
growth in order to sequester carbon dioxide is the subject of recent commercial
interest. The Scientifi c Groups of the London Convention and the London
Protocol take the view that knowledge about the eff ectiveness and potential
environmental impacts of ocean iron fertilization currently is insuffi cient to
justify large-scale operations.172
171 IMO Briefi ng 43/2006 (8 November 2006).
172 See the meeting of the Scientifi c Groups to the Contracting Parties under the
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter,
1972 (London Convention) and the 1996 Protocol thereto (London Protocol): 30th session
每 18每22 June 2007:
&Scientifi c advisers to Parties to the international treaties, which regulate the dumping of
wastes and other matter at sea, have advised caution in relation to planned large-scale
iron fertilization of the oceans to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2).Knowledge about
the eff ectiveness and potential environmental impact of iron fertilization is currently
insuffi cient to justify large-scale operations, according to the Scientifi c Groups advising
the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution
by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention) and the 1996
Protocol thereto (London Protocol), which met for their annual meeting from 18 to 22
June 2007, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. . . . According to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iron fertilization of the oceans may off er a potential
strategy for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by stimulating the growth of
phytoplankton and thereby sequestering the carbon dioxide in the form of particulate
organic carbon. However, the IPCC also stated that ocean iron fertilization remains
largely speculative, and many of the environmental side eff ects have yet to be assessed.
The Scientifi c Groups of the London Convention and London Protocol note with
concern the potential for large-scale ocean iron fertilization to have negative impacts on
the marine environment and human health. They therefore recommend that any such
operations be evaluated carefully to ensure, among other things, that such operations
56 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
4. Conclusions on MARPOL 73/78 and the 1972 London Convention and
the Precautionary Principle
MARPOL 73/78 included in its overall structure the application of the
precautionary approach to all its activities in relation to the protection
of the marine environment. However, as was stated above, it is very
diffi cult to assess its actual working due the lack of a reliable database.
As was observed, it is sometimes impossible to assess the current
practice even of the States implementing the preventive principle, due
to incorrect or insuffi cient submissions from States. Therefore, in the
view of the present author, it is very problematic to draw any conclusions
as to the implementation of the precautionary principle from the
practice of the IMO. Moreover, taking into account that certain binding
Resolutions of the IMO which are based on full scientifi c knowledge
are not always implemented by the various users of the oceans, it is diffi
cult to envisage how the precautionary principle may already be fully
applicable within the structure of the IMO in relation to the protection
of the environment.
There is certain evidence that the precautionary principle was relied
upon within the London Convention (at least regarding the dumping of
radioactive wastes). As was explained above, however, the application of
this principle was not uncontested and led to many heated discussions.
As Ringius observed, the eventual consent of many States to adhere to
the total ban was dictated rather by the exigencies of public opinion than
observance of the precautionary principle.
It must be noted that, as indicated above, although the measures contained
in the 2006 amendment to the 1996 Protocol on carbon dioxide
sequestration, appear to have been intended as an implementation of the
precautionary principle, raised some concerns as to the eff ects of such
techniques without full scientifi c knowledge. Such concerns put in doubt
the usefulness of the precautionary principle as the best remedy in all
instances of environmental protection. As evidenced by the example of
carbon dioxide sequestration, full scientifi c knowledge may at times be
necessary.
are not contrary to the aims of the London Convention and London Protocol. Parties
to the London Convention and the London Protocol are invited to provide further
information relating to proposed large-scale ocean iron fertilization operations to
the Secretariat and to the Scientifi c Groups as and when such information becomes
available.*
Available online at http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1472&doc_
id=8214 (last visited on 10 July 2008).
Precautionary principle 57
B. The Regional Marine Approach to the Precautionary Principle 每 the
1992 Convention on the Environmental Protection of the Baltic Sea
Area (the Helsinki Convention)173
1. Short introduction to the Baltic Sea and the 1992 Helsinki Convention
Due to its unique geographical and ecological conditions, the Baltic Sea
requires very effi cient environmental regulation. It covers a rather small
area in comparison to other oceans, but is one of the largest bodies of
brackish water in the world. Its catchment area hosts about 85 million
people. The Baltic Sea is an almost enclosed sea, as it is connected with
the world*s oceans by the very narrow and shallow waters of the Sound
and the Belt Sea. Therefore, the same water and all the organic and
inorganic matter in the Baltic remain there for about 30 years. The Baltic
Sea is characterized by limited biodiversity due to the brackish character
and in some areas low salinity of its waters.174 The 1974 Helsinki
Convention preceded the 1992 Convention. It was a unique instrument
because all the sources of pollution around an entire sea were covered
by a single convention, signed in 1974 by the then seven Baltic coastal
states. The 1974 Convention entered into force on 3 May 1980. It was
observed that already under the regime of the 1974 Convention the
precautionary principle was applied, even without a provision directly
referring to it.175
In the light of political changes and developments in international environmental
and maritime law, a new Convention was signed in 1992. The
Convention covers the whole of the Baltic Sea area, including inland waters
as well as the water of the sea itself and the sea-bed. Measures are also
taken in the whole catchment area of the Baltic Sea to reduce land-based
pollution.176 The Helsinki Commission or &HELCOM* is the governing
body. Its main task is to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea
from all sources of pollution through co-operation between Denmark,
173 Signed in 1992, entered into force on 17 January 2000. The present Parties to the
Convention are Denmark, Estonia, European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia,
Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. The Convention was subject to amendments of:
31 December 2000 to Annex III, 31 December 2000 to Annex IV (Regulations 4, 6每8),
of 1 December 2002 to Annex IV (Regulations 4 and 9每12), of 1 July 2004 to Annex IV
(Regulations 4每13).
174 See http://www.helcom.fi /environment2/nature/en_GB/nature/_print (last visited on
10 July 2008).
175 M. Pyhälä et al., &The Precautionary Principle and the Helsinki Convention*, in N.
de Sadeleer (ed.), Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Approaches from the Nordic
Countries, EU and USA (2007) 143, at 145每6.
176 See http://www.helcom.fi /Convention/en_GB/convention/ (last visited on 10 July
2008).
58 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland, Russia and Sweden (Article 19).177
2. The Helsinki Convention and the precautionary principle
The Helsinki Convention is based on the precautionary principle, environmental
impact assessment and the polluter-pays principle (Articles 3 and7).178 Article 3 paragraph 2 of the 1992 Helsinki Convention defi nes the
precautionary principle as follows:
177 See http://www.helcom.fi /helcom/en_GB/aboutus/ (last visited on 10 July 2008). The
duties of the HELCOM are listed in Article 20 of the Helsinki Convention:
&1. the duties of the Commission shall be: a) to keep the implementation of this Convention
under continuous observation; b) to make recommendations on measures relating to the
purpose of this Convention; c) to keep under review the contents of this Convention including
its Annexes and to recommend to the Contracting Parties such amendments to this
Convention including its Annexes as may be required including changes in the lists of substances
and materials as well as the adoption of new Annexes; d) to defi ne pollution control
criteria, objectives for the reduction of pollution, and objectives concerning measures, particularly
those described in Annex III; e) to promote in close co-operation with appropriate
governmental bodies, taking into consideration sub-paragraph f) of this Article, additional
measures to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area and for that purpose:
i) to receive, process, summarise and disseminate relevant scientifi c, technological and
statistical information from available sources; and
ii) to promote scientifi c and technological research; and f) to seek, when appropriate, the
services of competent regional and other international organisations to collaborate in
scientifi c and technological research as well as other relevant activities pertinent to the
objectives of this Convention. 2. The Commission may assume such other functions as it
deems appropriate to further the purposes of this Convention.*
178 &Fundamental principles and obligations: 1. The Contracting Parties shall individually
or jointly take all appropriate legislative, administrative or other relevant measures to
prevent and eliminate pollution in order to promote the ecological restoration of the Baltic
Sea Area and the preservation of its ecological balance. 2. The Contracting Parties shall apply
the precautionary principle, i.e. to take preventive measures when there is a reason to assume
that substances or energy introduced, directly or indirectly, into the marine environment
may create hazards to human health, harm living resources and marine ecosystems, damage
amenities or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea even when there is no conclusive
evidence of a causal relationship between inputs and their alleged eff ects. 3. In order to
prevent and eliminate pollution of the Baltic Sea Area the Contracting Parties shall promote
the use of the Best Environmental Technology if the reduction of inputs, resulting from the
use of the Best Environmental Practice and the Best Available Technology, as described in
Annex II, does not lead to environmentally acceptable results, measures shall be applied. 4.
The Contracting Parties shall apply the polluter-pays principle. 5. The Contracting Parties
shall ensure that measurements of calculations and emissions from the point sources to water
and air and of inputs from diff use sources to water and air are carried out in a specifi cally
appropriate manner in order to assume the state of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea
Area and ascertain the implementation of this Convention. 6. The Contracting Parties shall
use their best endeavours to ensure that the implementation of this Convention does not cause
transboundary pollution on areas outside the Baltic Sea Area. Furthermore, the relevant
measures shall not lead either to unacceptable environmental strains on air quality and the
Precautionary principle 59
The Contracting Parties shall apply the precautionary principle 每 that is, to take
preventive measures when there is a reason to assume that substances or energy
introduced, directly or indirectly, into the marine environment may create hazards
to human health, harm living resources and marine ecosystems, damage amenities
or interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea even when there is no conclusive
evidence of a causal relationship between inputs and their alleged eff ects.
The basic defi nition of the precautionary principle in the 1992 Helsinki
Convention contains some of the main elements of the concept, such as
the lack of full scientifi c certainty (&when there is the reason to assume that
substances or energy introduced . . . into the marine environment may
create hazards*). It also stresses the absence of the absolute requirement
of &conclusive evidence* of &a casual relationship between inputs and their
alleged eff ects*. It also equates precaution with prevention.
The defi nition of the precautionary principle in the 1992 Helsinki
Convention is considered to be setting a lower threshold of scientifi c
information for its application than the one set in Principle 15 of the Rio
Declaration (&a reason to assume hazard*).179 In general, it may be said that
the Helsinki Convention has incorporated to a great extent in its various
plans and programmes the notion of the precautionary principle. The reliance
on the precautionary principle in the 1992 Helsinki Convention was
further confi rmed in the 2003 Declaration of the Joint Ministerial Meeting
of the Helsinki and OSPAR Commissions.180 This Declaration dealt generally
with the improvement of the state of the marine environment globally,
in relation to biodiversity as well as to the environmental impact of shipping.
The precautionary principle was expressly recognized in paragraph 9
of the Declaration. It reads as follows:
We are convinced that the current state of scientifi c knowledge, coupled with a
sound application of the precautionary principle, allows the immediate adoption
of certain further environmental and nature protection measures with a view of
achieving sustainable use of the sea and conservation of marine ecosystems. We
invite the competent authorities and international bodies in the HELCOM and
OSPAR maritime areas to develop and implement progressively specifi c policies
and measures in line with the ecosystem approach. 181
atmosphere or on waters, soil and ground water, to unacceptably harmful or increasing waste
disposal, or to increased risks to human health.*
179 Pyhälä et al., supra note 174, at 147.
180 Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Helsinki and OSPAR Commissions, Bremen, 25每26
June 2003, Agenda Item 6.
181 See, e.g., the footnote which says as follows:
&It is understood that, in the context of the management of fi sheries, the &application
of the precautionary principle* has the same result as the application of the
60 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
However, despite the precautionary principle having been embraced
as a matter of policy, the only practical example to date of its application
is related to the assessment of the adverse impact of PCB and DDT substances
for immunological and reproductive disorders in Baltic seals, and
led to the adoption of supplementary recommendations to limit the use
and discharges of PCBs, as well as a moratorium on the hunting of seals.
These recommendations were adopted prior to conclusive evidence being
produced of a causal link between the discharges of these substances into
the Baltic Sea and the impairment of seals.
[T]o this day, seal hunting is still only allowed if it can be scientifi cally proven
that it will not cause unacceptable harm of the seal population 每 an example of
the adoption of the more rigorous version of the precautionary principle, with
the burden of proof reversed.182
However, it appears that, with an exception relating to the above example,
recommendations concerning the state of the Baltic environment had been
adopted only on the basis of ample scientifi c evidence, not on the basis of
application of the precautionary principle. There is a special HELCOM
Monitoring and Assessment Group (MONAS), which assesses:
trends in threats to the marine environment, their impacts, the resulting state of
the marine environment, and the eff ectiveness of adopted measures. This work
forms the basis for the work of HELCOM*s other main groups, and helps to
defi ne the need for additional measures. HELCOM MONAS aims to ensure that
HELCOM*s monitoring programmes are effi ciently used through horizontal coordination
between the Commission*s fi ve permanent working groups.183
This is confi rmed by HELCOM*s own words describing how it works and
on what basis it adopts relevant recommendations:
The Helsinki Commission has been assessing the eff ects of nutrients and hazardous
substances on ecosystems in the Baltic Sea for the past 25 years. The
resulting assessment reports contain unique compilations of data and detailed
analysis based on the scientifi c research carried out around the Baltic Sea,
including the special monitoring programmes coordinated by HELCOM.
HELCOM measures and monitors airborne and waterborne inputs of nutrients
and hazardous substances (including radioactive substances), as well as the state
precautionary approach, as referred to in, for example Article 6 of the 1995 UN Fish
Stocks Agreement.*
182 Pyhälä et al., supra note 179, at 146.
183 Available online at: http://www.helcom.fi /groups/monas/en_GB/monas_main (last
visited on 10 July 2008).
Precautionary principle 61
of all the various compartments of the marine environment (water, sediments
and biota).
HELCOM*s monitoring work provides valuable data to help experts understand
and assess the interactions between the physical environment and all
forms of marine life, with particular attention paid to the many and varied
impacts of human activities.
HELCOM*s assessments help to improve our understanding of marine ecological
processes and allow experts to evaluate the impacts of our activities on the
marine environment. This work also helps in the setting of objectives for environmental
quality, the formulation of policies, and the setting of priorities for actions
designed to protect the marine environment, and ensure it is used sustainably.
The above described procedure relies entirely on full available scientifi c
data and the exchange of data as the basis for Helsinki Commission decision
making. Application of the precautionary principle is not explicitly included.
It may be interesting to note that the New Management Approach to the
Baltic Sea, adopted in 2007, constitutes a radical departure from any other
plan or programme previously undertaken by HELCOM and approaches
the protection of the Baltic Sea Area environmental in a completely new
manner. It therefore abandoned the piecemeal approach and relies on the
Ecosystem Approach to Management, which refl ects a jointly agreed vision
of &a healthy marine environment, with diverse biological components functioning
in balance, resulting in a good ecological status and supporting a
wide range of sustainable human activities*.184 On the basis of the ecosystem
approach, the protection of the marine environment had evolved from an
event-driven pollution reduction sectoral approach to the ecosystem itself,
as a starting point, and a shared concept of a healthy sea with a good ecological
status. Further targets in reductions in pollution loads, as well as the
extents of various human activities, will be determined by the ecosystem
approach, &incorporating the latest scientifi c knowledge and innovative
management approaches into strategic policy implementation, and stimulating
even closer, goal-oriented multilateral co-operation around the Baltic
Sea region*.185 The newly established Group will steer the implementation
of the strategic Baltic Sea Action Plan to restore the good ecological status of
the sea by 2021. One of the fi rst tasks of the Group will be the elaboration of
a comprehensive list of municipal waste water treatment plants. It will not
be done on the basis of the precautionary principle, however, but on the
basis of a step-wise approach and cost eff ectiveness.186
184 See http://www.helcom.fi /BSAP/en_GB/intro (last visited on 10 July 2008).
185 See http://www.helcom.fi /environment2/en_GB/cover/ (last visited on 10 July 2008).
186 See http://www.helcom.fi /press_offi ce/news_helcom/en_GB/BSAP_IG1_Meeting
(last visited on 10 July 2008).
62 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
IV. CONCLUDING REMARKS
The most diffi cult part of this chapter is an attempt to reach some general
conclusions as regards the character of the precautionary principle. Even if
we are not in full agreement with the above mentioned views expressed by
Sunstein, who crushed the very purpose of the existence of the precautionary
principle, it may be ventured that the above-analysed practice of States
indicates that the precautionary principle indeed merits the description of
&a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma*.
In the view of the present author, Trouwborst*s meticulous research
on and very precise analysis of the precautionary principle presented
in his two books187 shows clearly the large number of issues which still
have to be resolved, the character of which is very complex, unclear
and confusing 每 such as the issue of signifi cant harm and the burden of
proof in international and national laws. Certain problems of interpretation
may arise regarding these elements and how they are applicable in
States* practice and the relationship of this principle with the concept
of sustainable development (which in itself lacks well-defi ned normative
content). However, some authors argue that &the precautionary habit
we must form is to consider any harm, serious or not, in a broader
context*. This is a very far reaching postulate and probably does not
refl ect general law on this subject, but nevertheless indicates the lack of
common standards.
Some of the domestic regimes are very complicated, and the burden
of proof as regards the precautionary principle is part and parcel of a
very sophisticated legal nexus and cannot be viewed in isolation from
the general issues of the legal system of a State. Such is the case of
Australia:
in terms of environmental regulatory design, only small steps have been taken
towards creating a coherent framework for fact fi nding and resolving issues of
proof within both environmental risk regulation and precaution . . . Rather than
developing an overarching general principle of proof in environmental matters,
we suggest that the design of a suitable regulatory architecture governing proof
should be context-dependent. Evidential concepts, which are not themselves
static, have the potential to evolve further with a view to strengthening the precautionary
principle in a variety of legal and administrative contexts.188
187 In particular see Trouwborst II, supra note 2.
188 J. Jones and S. Bronitt, &The Burden and Standard of Proof in Environmental
Regulation: the Precautionary Principle in an Australian Administrative Context*, in E.
Fisher et al., Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and Prospects (2006)
137, at 156.
Precautionary principle 63
It must be also noted that the application of this principle is conditioned
upon many limiting factors which may render the principle in
reality ineff ective. This principle is subject to the balancing of many
interests, such as environmental, social and economic interests, on the
basis of the criterion of proportionality.189 The question arises whether
in unfavourable socio-economic circumstances States would still accord
priority to the precautionary principle (even if all grounds for its applicability
existed). Trouwborst also mentions the principle of common but
diff erentiated responsibilities as limiting the applicability of the precautionary
principle in relation to developing countries, &although generally
speaking it does not appear to be a standard component of the principle
itself*.190 This statement may be disputed. The principle of common but
diff erentiated responsibilities underlies all environmental obligations, in
relation to both developed and developing countries. Therefore, it is of
no importance whether or not it is a standard component of the precautionary
principle, since it has to be taken into consideration vis-角-vis all
environmental duties originating from all environmental treaty regimes.
It may also be observed that the problems of cost-eff ectiveness in relation
to the precautionary principle, which are referred to above in relation,
in particular, to developing States, are also quite discernible in relation to
so-called States with economies in transition (that is to say, the members of
the former Soviet bloc). As was observed above there is, in fact, only one
known example of the application of the precautionary principle within
the regime of the Helsinki Convention, which relates to the protection of
seals. One of the reasons for the infrequent application of the precautionary
principle by the States Parties to the Helsinki Convention is the nature
of the principles of &Best Environmental Practice* and &Best Available
Technology*. These two standards form part and parcel of the precautionary
principle itself; and their realization is the cause of yet additional costs
in relation to the implementation of the that principle.
Further confusion is caused by the unclear relationship between the
Environmental Impact Assessment and the precautionary principle. In
theory these two principles are separate, and the EIA relates to environmental
hazards which are based on scientifi c certainty. However, in the
practice of States it is sometimes very diffi cult to distinguish the principles
(see e.g. the formulation of the precautionary principle in MARPOL
73/78 which included the EIA in the structure of the precautionary
principle).
189 Trouwborst II, supra note 2, at 280.
190 Ibid.
64 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Finally, there is a very fi ne line distinguishing between the precautionary
and preventive principles. The classical distinction is based on certainty:
the principle of prevention is applicable when environmental hazards are
well documented and known. However, in practice at times it is very diffi
cult (if not impossible) to make a clear and fi rm dividing line between
these two principles (an example of such confusion may be found in the
defi nition of the precautionary principle in the Bamako Convention, which
appears to use precaution and prevention interchangeably).
It may happen that measures adopted by a State in response to threats to
the environment are prevention not precaution and vice versa, and States
use these terms interchangeably. In the view of the present author only
case-by-case study will be able to ascertain with complete certainty which
principle was intended to be applied. Often measures applied by a State will
be preventive measures even if they are labelled precautionary measures, as
the detailed analysis of IMO practice evidenced. It may therefore be stated
that in reality the precautionary principle is very rarely applied and its
nature, consequences and impact on environmental law are very uncertain
and unexplored. The present author adheres to the statement that:
There is no defi nitive statement of &the* precautionary principle, nor any agreement
on when it applies or what it requires. Precaution is an overarching principle
that will always require contextual elaboration . . . Perceptions of risk and
precaution diff er from country to country, subject to subject. It is impossible to
separate purely &scientifi c* judgments from political and values choices. Stronger
versions of precaution recognise that defi nitions of what is at &risk* are based on
subjective assumptions and values.191
Therefore we have to acknowledge so-called &State autonomy*, i.e. the
rights of each State to adopt precautionary measures, which involves recognizing
&legitimate diff erences of priority, and recognizing a wide variety
of perspectives on risk and sources of information about source of risk*
and the various levels in diff erent States which trigger the precaution.192
At times it may happen that States include the precautionary principle in
name only and its application in practice excludes any serious considerations
as regards the risk assessment.193
The meaning and role of the precautionary principle will also diff er
191 McDonald, supra note 69; see also P.D. Harremoës et al. (eds), The Precautionary
Principle in the 20th Century: Late Lessons from Early Warnings (2002), at 188.
192 McDonald, supra note 69, at 161. See also P. Birnie and A. Boyle, International Law
and the Environment (2002), at 123.
193 See, e.g., J. Peel, &Precautionary Only in Name? Tensions between Precaution and Risk
Assessment in the Australian GMO Regulatory Framework*, in E. Fisher et al., Implementing
the Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and Prospects (2006) 202, at 202每20.
Precautionary principle 65
depending on the context in which it is applied in the fi eld of international
environmental law. For example in such areas as the protection
of biodiversity, social and economic issues will play a very important
role. Thus it has been said that:
those who may bear the immediate costs of precautionary decision making may be
groups which are already vulnerable, disfranchised and poor. In particular, conservation
approaches based on restricting access to and use of biological resources
can impose major livelihood costs, and reversing the burden of proof can involve
the imposition of unfeasible technical burdens on poor communities or poor countries.
Tensions around the precautionary principle in this context echo broader
debates about how biodiversity conservation should be pursued in a world of grappling
with poverty, and how to achieve the elusive &win-win* solutions which would
make uncomfortable trade-off s between these values irrelevant.194
There is not one, defi nite and authoritative defi nition of the precautionary
principle, but various versions of it, and its components have diff erent
notions, depending on the particular context. Therefore, being mindful of
its unclear legal status and the uncertainty of its practical application, as
it stands at present, it would perhaps be a futile eff ort to attempt to defi ne
this principle in a general manner. The better approach appears to be to
analyse it on a case-by-case basis. Such an approach may suggest that there
are very few true examples of the application of this principle, as evidenced
by the practice of the IMO regarding oil pollution and of the Helsinki
Commission. In these instances, it would appear that, while both of these
organizations appear in principle to have fully embraced the precautionary
principle, closer scrutiny reveals that, in the case of the IMO, it was really
the principle of prevention that was being applied (and even this, indeed,
not altogether successfully); whilst in the case of the Helsinki Commission
there was but a single example of the application in practice of the precautionary
principle.
The most recent example of the application of the preventive measures
in the Baltic Sea area is the 2009 Clean Sea Guide, which provides ship
masters with basic information on the pollution prevention regulations
which have been established in the region by HELCOM. These regulations,
in order to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea area
from pollution, provide that all ships entering the area, both those fl ying
the fl ag of the HELCOM Member States and also other ships, are urged
to comply with the HELCOM anti-pollution regulations.195 The Guide*s
194 R. Cooney, &A Long and Winding Road: Precaution from Principle to Practice in
Biodiversity Conservation*, in ibid., 223, at 239.
195 http://www.helcom.fi /press_offi ce/news_helcom/en_GB/Clean_Seas_Guide_2009/.
66 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
emphasis is on &prevention* not precaution. In fact, it may be noted that
strict adherence to the existing rules on the prevention of pollution in the
Baltic Sea would appear to ensure suffi ciently the maintenance of a good
ecological state of the Baltic Sea. The requirement of prevention, rather
than the application of the principle of precaution, is a notable feature in
the case of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic is designated as a &special area* by
MARPOL 73/78, which means that it is subject to more stringent measures
of protection than other marine areas, due to its sensitive ecological state
and the high level of pollution.196
Such an approach to environmental issues perhaps exemplifi es a general
trend in environmental management which is characterized by a more
practical approach, possibly heralding the departure from setting very
ambitious targets which may be impossible to achieve and adopting more
humble but at the same time more realistic goals197, which nonetheless are
at times also diffi cult to achieve.198 Therefore, &prudence and caution* are
recommended.
196 In accordance with the IMO*s International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), under which the Baltic Sea area has been designated
as a special area due to its extreme sensitivity to harmful substances, far-reaching prohibitions
and restrictions on any discharge into the sea of oil or oily mixtures and garbage have
been introduced by the Baltic Sea States. The discharges of noxious liquid substances are also
strictly regulated. In addition, bans on discharges of sewage and incineration of ship- generated
wastes within 12 nautical miles from the nearest land have been imposed by HELCOM. There
is also a general ban on dumping and incineration of other wastes, not incidental to or derived
from the normal operation of ships, in the entire Baltic Sea area. Available at website: http://
www.helcom.fi /press_offi ce/news_helcom/ en_GB/Clean_Seas_Guide_2.
197 For example, the European Environment Agency made an observation concerning
the improvement of the basic requirement of the submission of data: &information supplied on
waste shipments in particular is not suffi cient to provide a clear picture of the situation at EU
level, according to the agency. Better data could help EEA ※tell whether waste shipments are
driven by better treatment options, greater capacity or eff ective pricing§*: available online at
http://www.helcom.fi /press_offi ce/news_baltic/en_GB/BalticAndEUnews8926958/.
The management of the Baltic Sea environment provides numerous examples of such
concrete approach which is based entirely on available data, such as the Pollution
Load Compilation programmes (PLC-Air and PLC-Water) which quantify emissions; the
COMBINE programme which quantifi es the impacts of nutrients and hazardous substances
in the marine environment, also examining trends in the various compartments of the marine
environment (water, biota, sediment) of nutrients and hazardous substances to the air, discharges
and losses to inland surface waters, and the resulting air- and waterborne inputs to the
sea; monitoring of radioactive substances (MORS) which quantifi es the sources and inputs
of artifi cial radionuclides, as well as the resulting trends in the various compartments of the
marine environment (water, biota, sediment). It may be remembered that the 2007 Baltic Sea
Action Plan will be based on available scientifi c knowledge.
198 For example, as was announced on 16 December, the EU is &highly unlikely* to meet
its objective of halting biodiversity decline by 2010, according to a pessimistic mid-term
review of progress made towards achieving this goal published by the European Commission.
Available online at: http://www.endseurope.com/20226.
67
2. Sustainable development
I. INTRODUCTION
Sustainable development, like the precautionary principle, is one of
the international environmental law concepts the true nature of which
remains mysterious and elusive despite its wide use (or perhaps overuse).
This chapter fi rst deals with theories, views of doctrine and international
jurisprudence regarding the concept. It further investigates what is the
character of this concept in the areas of marine environmental protection,
both global and regional (the IMO and the Baltic Sea).
II. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 每 GENERAL
CONSIDERATIONS
From its inception this concept provoked numerous discussions and arguments.
The purpose of this general part is not to examine exhaustively the
decisions of courts and tribunals dealing with this concept and the views of
doctrine (a task, which is almost impossible to achieve and, anyhow, much
has been written about it), but to concentrate on the controversies and diffi
culties surrounding the character of this concept, as a background to the
practical study of its application by the IMO and in the Baltic Sea Area.
Much discussion concerning sustainable development has been devoted
to its normative value, particularly after the 1992 Rio Declaration on
the Environment and Development, adopted at the 1992 Conference on
Environment and Development, which has been acknowledged as a codifi -
cation of the constituent elements of sustainable development,1 a task just
as elusive as in the case of the precautionary principle. The Rio Declaration
was a result of long evolution, which started in 1972 at the Stockholm
Conference on the Human Environment. The Rio Declaration couched
1 See, in particular, A. Boyle and D. Freestone, &Introduction*, in A. Boyle and D.
Freestone (eds), International Law and Sustainable Development: Past Achievements and
Future Challenges (1999) 1, at 1每18; N. Schrijver, &The Evolution of Sustainable Development
in International Law: Inception, Meaning and Status*, in 329 Receuil des Cours, The Hague
Academy of International Law (2007).
68 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
in peremptory terms (&shall*) is a package deal, negotiated by consensus.2
However, doubts were expressed after the 1992 Rio Summit whether the
integration of the developmental and environmental issues was possible on
an equal footing, in other words whether the idea embodied in the concept
of &international law in the fi eld of sustainable development*, which was
characterized by international environmental law becoming part and parcel
of general and broad international law in order to achieve the unifying goal
of sustainable development, was at all workable.
As Boyle and Freestone explain, the Rio Declaration contains both
substantive and procedural elements of sustainable development. The
fi rst cluster of elements (substantive) is mainly covered by Principles 3每8
of the Rio Declaration and the second one (procedural) by Principles
10 and 17.3 None of these Principles are new but they are put together
in the Rio Declaration in a coherent manner.4 The substantive elements
identifi ed by the cited authors are as follows: the sustainable utilization
of natural resources; the integration of environmental protection and economic
development; the right to development; and striving for equity in
the allocation of natural resources between future and present generations
(inter- and intra-generational equity). The procedural principles deal with
public participation in environmental decision-making5 and environmen-
2 Boyle/Freestone, supra note 2, at 3; see also I.M. Porras, &The Rio Declaration: A New
Basis for International Co-operation*, 1 RECIEL (1992每3) 245, at 245 and more generally
245每53, who writes that the Rio Declaration represented &uneasy compromises, delicately
balanced interests, and dimly discernible contradictions* between developed and developing
countries &held together by the interpretative vagueness of classic Un-esse*.
3 Boyle/Freestone, supra note 2, at 9每18.
4 Ibid., at 9.
5 The element of public participation in environmental matters is probably less problematic
theoretically than the principle of common but diff erentiated responsibilities;
however, its practical implementation on a municipal level is not uniform. It is accepted
that the participatory right is composed of three elements: the right to participate in decision
making; the right to information and the right of access to justice. This is the manner
in which Principle 10 is construed in the Rio Declaration. Since this right encompasses
quite a wide range of the forms of public participation, it is obvious that its application
within domestic systems is very divergent. Certain progress was made in the furtherance
of this right and its uniform application by the adoption of the 1998 Aarhus Convention
on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice
in Environmental Matters. The Convention is rights-based, encompassing procedural
rights of participation and substantive right of persons of present and future generations
to live in an environment of adequate health and well-being. The Convention established
minimum standards for participatory rights, but of course it does not prevent States from
adopting more extensive measures. However, it is ultimately within the sovereignty of the
Parties to the Convention to implement it and set the applicable standards. Therefore, as
was argued above, there is no uniformity in the level of standards, even within one region,
Europe. There is not an instrument of general or universal character which would establish
similar regulations for other, non-European States. The Johannesburg Summit reaffi rmed
the necessity of public participation in the full implementation of sustainable development,
Sustainable development 69
tal impact assessment. Daniel Magraw and Lisa Hawke identify four core
elements of the concept of sustainable development: intergenerational
equity; intragenerational equity; the need to protect the environment;
and the need to integrate economic, social and environmental policies.6
Broadly, this classifi cation corresponds with that adopted by Boyle and
Freestone, as the whole element of environmental protection consists
of a host of elements, such as sustainable utilization, the precautionary
principle, etc.7
It has to be said that there is no uniform listing of all the relevant elements
of sustainable development, and that there is a certain variance in
the elements which are considered to be the constitutive components of this
concept exists.8 It may be noted, however, that variations in these fundamental
components are not radically diff erent. The present author adheres
to the structure of this concept as presented by Boyle and Freestone, as
probably most adequate.
A very few of these elements have a concrete content, such as sustainable
utilization, which is a well-defi ned concept dealing with such issues
as closed and open seasons for taking natural resources, the size of fi shing
and States pledged the furtherance of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, as well as taking
full account of Principles 5, 7 and 11. The Plan of Implementation enumerates diff erent
sectors, such the management of natural resources; water cooperation; poverty eradication
and energy, and lists various persons and institutions to be consulted in implementation of
the participatory right.
6 D.B. Magraw and L.D. Hawke, &Sustainable Development*, in D. Bodansky et al. (eds),
Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2007) 613, at 613每38.
7 See, e.g., A.B.M. Marong, &From Rio to Johannesburg: Refl ections on the Role of
International legal Norms in Sustainable Development*, 16 Geo. Int*l Envtl.L.Rev. (2003每
2004) 21, at 76; M. Pallemaerts, &International Environmental Law from Stockholm to Rio*,
1 RECIEL (1992) 254, at 254每66.
8 The International Law Association (the &ILA*) Declaration on the Principles of
International Law Relating to Sustainable Development. This principle is considered one of
the seven principles constituting the principle of sustainable development. The New Delhi
Declaration on Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development (ILA,
2002) enumerates seven such elements: duty of States to ensure sustainable use of natural
resources; the principle of equity and the eradication of poverty; the principle of common
but diff erentiated responsibilities; the principle of a precautionary approach to human
health, natural resources and ecosystems; the principle of public participation and access to
information and justice; the principle of good governance; and the principle of integration
and interrelationship, in particular relating to human rights and social and economic and
environmental objectives, and is available online at: http://www.ila-hq.org (last visited on 10
July 2008). Duncan French, who has published extensively on this subject, enumerates the following
elements: the principle of integration; the principle of sustainable use; the principle of
equity and the right to sustainable development; and the duty to cooperate. He explains that
the precautionary principle is signifi cant; however, in his view, it is possibly limited to certain
discrete areas of international law: D. French, &Sustainable Development and International
Environmental Law*, in M. Fitzmaurice et al. (eds), The Research Handbook of International
Environmental Law (forthcoming 2008).
70 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
gear, etc. The other elements have very fuzzy and ill-defi ned content and
themselves are the subject of an ongoing debate, such as intergenerational
equity, which is a pivotal element of sustainable development. The present
author will focus on the core elements, which are the most controversial,
i.e. intergenerational equity, common but diff erentiated responsibilities
and the integration of environment and development.
The principle of integration of environmental protection and economic
development is contained in Principle 4 of the Rio Declaration.9 As Boyle
and Freestone observed, &the requirement of integration permeates the
Rio instruments, as well as Agenda 21*.10 The aim of Principle 4 was to
secure environmental interests while taking developmental decisions within
the national and international structures (as evidenced by Agenda 21).11
However, the same authors rightly observe that Principle 4, as such, does
not solve the confl ict between environmental protection and economic
development.12 The so-called integration of economic development and
environmental protection at the 1992 Earth Summit was greatly criticized
by, e.g., Marc Pallemaerts, who said as follows: &[i]nternational environmental
law runs the risk of being reduced to a mere appendage of international
development law, and subordinated to economic rationality*.13 The
same author further explains that, although the principle of integration was
included in many environmental agreements in the 1990s, it &does not seem
to have enhanced its eff ectiveness signifi cantly*.14 He further points out
that, notwithstanding the inclusion in the 1994 Preamble to the Marrakesh
Agreement Establishing the WTO of acknowledgement of the importance
of a policy of integration in achieving the aim of free trade,15 &the lingering
tensions between national and international environmental and social
policies and the multilateral trading system demonstrate that the WTO
commitment to sustainability has been rhetorical so far*.16 The Millennium
Declaration adopted by the Heads of Governments was an exception where
environmental matters were included as the most important issues for the
9 Principle 4: &Environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the developmental
process and cannot be considered in isolation from it*.
10 Boyle/Freestone, supra note 2, at 10.
11 Ibid. See Agenda 21, which stipulates that &the more systematic consideration of the
environment when decisions are made on economic, social, fi scal, energy, agricultural, transportation,
trade and other policies* at Chapter 8.2.
12 Boyle/Freestone, supra note 2, at 11.
13 M. Pallemaerts, supra note 7, at 254每66.
14 M. Pallemaerts, supra note 7, at 10.
15 &While allowing for the optimal use of the world*s resources in accordance with the
objectives of sustainable development, seeking both to protect and preserve the environment
and to enhance the means for doing so.*
16 Pallemaerts, supra note 14, at 10.
Sustainable development 71
twenty-fi rst century: freedom equality; solidarity; tolerance; respect for
nature; and shared responsibility.17
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (the &WSSD*) not
only did not resolve the confl ict between the economic development and
environmental protection but:
The old tension between environment and development re-emerged with
stronger and sometimes opposing polarized views. Developing countries wanted
(sustainable) development to be the central theme of the Summit. Developing
countries felt that the international community*s primary concern should be
development and poverty eradication and environmental measures should be
pursued to achieve such goals. Environmentalists and some developed countries,
on the other hand, were concerned that the role of the environment in the
sustainable development agenda was being further diluted to the point of having
little or no signifi cance . . . To put it mildly, the environment did not have a
very good summit at Johannesburg. It arguably ended up mainly focusing on
development and only marginally addressing environmental issues. The WSSD
has been widely criticized for its failure to make any signifi cant progress in promoting
the environmental agenda. Johannesburg was supposed to reenergize
the international environmental agenda and improve the role of environmental
issues within the context of the sustainable development agenda, but it did not
reach either goal. Some environmentalists believed that Johannesburg betrayed
the spirit of Stockholm and Rio and were seriously concerned that development
had overtaken the environment on the international agenda. Some argued that
sustainable development was now simply &development tout-court* with little or
no consideration given to its environmental dimensions.18
Further, both main documents adopted at the WSSD, the Johannesburg
Declaration and the Plan of Implementation (the PoI), contain very weak
environmental language and lack extensive mention of environmental
objectives. Galitzzi and Herklotz observe that &the few references to the
environment are, in fact, almost always in the context of sustainable
development*.19 Both these authors also point out that the Johannesburg
Declaration recalls the Monterrey International Conference on Financing
and Development and the Doha Ministerial Conference as the events
which &defi ned for the world a comprehensive vision for the future of
humanity* (paragraph 9); in both events environmental concerns were
almost absent from the agenda. In conclusion, this Declaration mentions
environment only where relevant to economic and social goals and the
17 United Nations Millennium Declaration, G.A. Res.55/2. U.N.GAOR. 55th Sess.,
U.N.Doc. A/Res/55/2 (18 September 2000).
18 P. Galitzzi and A. Herklotz. &Environment and Development: Friends or Foes in the
21st Century?* (footnotes omitted) in M. Fitzmaurice and D. Ong (eds.), Research Handbook
of International Environmental Law (forthcoming).
19 Ibid.
72 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
overall stress is on development.20 The Plan of Implementation is very
similar to the Johannesburg Declaration in the treatment of the environment.
It generally approaches natural resources as a basis of economic and
social development.21 Galitzzi and Herklotz sum up in the following way
the WSSD and the environment:
The World Summit on Sustainable Development failed to produce a strong
and renewed environmental consensus in the international community. At
Johannesburg, the environment was treated as a sideshow and focus was mostly
placed on development and poverty eradication. As observed above, there are
hardly any &ecological* or environmental references in the documents adopted at
the Summit. Most references are, in any event, purely related to the environment
as a tool to promote economic and social development.22
The above clearly evidences that the principle of integration between economic
development and the environment failed and environment is not an
equal partner to the development. Therefore one of the most important (if
not the most important) core elements of the concept has been almost eradicated.
23 In broad brushstrokes, the unresolved questions concerning the
concept of intergenerational equity relate to its normativity and the legal
scope of the structure of trusteeship within this concept.24 It is noteworthy
that the best known and perhaps over-used defi nition of sustainable development
provided for by the 1987 World Commission on Environment and
Development (the &Brundtland Commission*) describes it as &development
that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs*.25
Likewise, Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration expressly mentions intergenerational
equity. The unclear legal content also characterizes the principle
of common but diff erentiated responsibilities (hereinafter the &CBDR*)
as one of the constituent elements of sustainable development. It may be
said that the origin of this principle is a confl ict between developed and
developing States. Rajamani described this in a succinct manner:
Fundamental diff erences of opinions, stemming from contradictory ideological
premises, haunt the international environmental dialogue. These diff erences
impact the pace, productivity, and ambition of the dialogue and therefore the
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
23 Both Galitzzi and Herklotz assert that during the 2005 World Summit to monitor the
progress of the Millennium Declaration environment was also marginalized.
24 See in depth Chapter 3 of this book.
25 G.H. Brundtland and WCED, Our Common Future (1987), at 43.
Sustainable development 73
ability of international environmental law to reverse or contain the powerful
trends in global environmental degradation. In an attempt to bridge the diff erences,
and due to the levels of infl uence the developing countries have managed
to exert over the time, the dissonance in international environmental dialogue is
translated into diff erentiation in international environmental treaties.26
The classical defi nition of this principle is enshrined in Principle 7 of the
Rio Declaration.27 It may be said that this principle, as formulated in
the Rio Declaration, is an expression of an equitable approach, and also
embodies the principle of fairness in international environmental law.28
Diff erential treatment, as embodied in the principle of CBDR, according
to Cullet is based on a premise that justice is a compulsory part of international
environmental law, not an option.29 Cullet argues that fairness and
justice are indispensable in international environmental law, but that in a
broader context there would be no legitimacy for international law, which
is not built on principles of justice. Diff erentiation serves the purpose of
fostering substantive equality.30
Implementation, in the sense that each and every country has primary
responsibility for its development, but which, in order to achieve a compromise,
had to be supplemented by the acknowledgement of Principle
7 of the Rio Declaration, i.e. the principle of common but diff erentiated
responsibilities, which at the Rio Conference on Environment
and Development (the &1992 Earth Summit*) was a subject of disagreement
between developed and developing countries. Most industrialized
26 L. Rajamani, Diff erential Treatment in International Environmental Law (2006), at
88.
27 Principle 7 states:
&States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore
the health and integrity of the Earth*s ecosystem. In view of the diff erent contributions to
global environmental degradation, States have common but diff ,erentiated responsibilities.
The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international
pursuit to sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the
global environment and of the technologies and fi nancial resources they command.*
The Declaration is available online at the website of the United Nations Environment
Programme: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=78&
ArticleID=1163 (last visited on 10 July 2008).
28 See T. Franck, Fairness in International Law and Institutions (1995).
29 In depth see P. Cullet, &Common but Diff erentiated Responsibilities*, in M. Fitzmaurice
et al. (eds), supra note 7 (hereinafter Cullet I); P. Cullet, Diff erential Treatment in International
Environmental Law, (2003) (hereinafter Cullet II); this author distinguishes between corrective
and distributive justice. Corrective justice means that wrongdoing must be compensated
by the wrongdoer.
30 Substantive equality is aimed at considering and taking into account inequalities, such
as wealth: Cullet I, supra note 29.
74 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
countries adhered to the view that the principle of common but diff erentiated
responsibilities applied only in the context of global environmental
issues, whilst developing countries stressed that in Principle 7 of the Rio
Declaration developed countries assumed responsibility &in international
pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies
place on the global environment and of the technologies and fi nancial
resources they command*. This resulted in the issuing by the US delegates
of the interpretative statement which squarely denied acceptance of any
international obligation or liability or diminution of the responsibilities of
developing countries under international law.31
Diff erent authors adopt various classifi cations of the norms which
introduce the diff erentiated treatment. For example, Magraw classifi es
the norms into &diff erential* and &contextual*.32 The fi rst category provides
&on its face* an explicit, possibly more advantageous set of standards,
which favour a certain group of States. As an illustration of this, Magraw
has recourse to the example of the GATT Enabling Clause. This, notwithstanding
Article I of the GATT, permits the States Parties to accord
diff erential and more favourable treatment to developing countries, with
the exclusion from such treatment of other States Parties.33 According to
this author, such norms, by according preferential treatment to a group of
States, express more that one type of interest.34 Implicit diff erential treatment
is termed &contextual norms*. These norms appear to grant identical
treatment to all States aff ected by them, but their application is characterized
by variable treatment, which allows the balancing of diff erent interests
and characteristics.35 Magraw illustrates such an instance by Article 2(1)
of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.36
Such &contextual norms* are exemplifi ed by the terms &available resources*
and &appropriate means*, which, although applicable to all States, as
regards their implementation allow the taking account of particular
31 Pallemaerts, supra note 14, at 9.
32 D.B. Magraw, &Legal Treatment of Developing Countries: Diff erentiated, Contextual
and Absolute Norms*, 1 Colo.J.Int*l.Entvt*lL&Pol*y (1960) 69, at 69每99.
33 Diff erentiated and More Favourable Treatment, Reciprocity and Fuller Participation
of Developing Countries, 28 November 1979, GATT B.I.S.D. (26th Supp.) (1980), at
203每205.
34 Magraw, supra note 32, at 73.
35 Ibid., at 75.
36 Article 2 (1) reads as follows:
&Each party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through
international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the
maximum of its available resources, with the view of achieving progressively the full realisation
of the rights recognised in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including
the adoption of legislative measures.*
Sustainable development 75
national circumstances. Rajamani classifi es the norms into explicit and
implicit. Explicit norms correspond with Magraw*s &diff erential* norms
and implicit with &contextual*.37
There is a great variety of diff erent ways to implement the diff erentiated
treatment in multilateral environmental agreements. Rajamani identifi es
the following categories:
provisions that diff erentiate between industrial and developing countries with
respect to central obligations contained in the treaty, such as emissions reduction
targets; provisions that diff erentiate between industrial and developing
countries with respect to implementation, such as delayed compliance schedules,
permission to adopt subsequent base years, delayed reporting schedules,
and soft approach to non-compliance; and, provisions to grant assistance, inter
alia, fi nancial and technological.38
International conventions (such as the 1987 Montreal Protocol on
Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer; the 1997 Kyoto Protocol; the 1992
Convention on Biological Diversity) contain numerous provisions which
aim at remedying inequities in the position between States.39 Some of the
diff erential treatments are the cause of very acrimonious confrontations
between developing and developed countries. An example of this is the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (&CITES*). CITES does not have special provisions granting differential
treatment to developing countries. Most of the protected species
are in the territories of developing countries, which do not have suffi cient
means to grant protection. The commercial use of such species and their
by-products (i.e. ivory), proposed by some developing countries, would be
benefi cial for their economies. Such proposals, however, lead to acrimonious
confrontations between developed and developing States.
Some doubts were expressed as to the practical implementation of
this element in a global, multilateral context, and how such equities
can be established in litigation, without the presence of all communities
37 This author explains:
&Diff erential norms, within the meaning of this book, refer to norms that either explicitly
or implicitly permit diff erentiation between countries. Norms of diff erential treatment may
be explicit in that norms by their clear terms provide for diff erent treatment for diff erent
countries or groups of countries. Norms of diff erential treatment may be implicit in that,
while the norm itself provides identical treatment to all countries aff ected by it, the application
of the norm permits consideration of diff erence between countries.*
Rajamani, supra note 26, at 90.
38 Ibid., at 93.
39 See P. Birnie and A. Boyle, International Law and the Environment (2002), at 91每2.
76 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
concerned; what criteria would be applied in order to achieve an equitable
solution between development and economic protection among diff erently
developed States with diff erent natural resources; and fi nally how
the changes in political boundaries would be considered.40 For example,
the Climate Change Convention provides that the parties should act to
protect the climate change system &on the basis of equity and in accordance
with their common but diff erentiated responsibilities* (Article 3, paragraph
1). The inclusion of this principle in the Climate Change Convention was
dictated by the need to ensure that everyone would not become worse off
(in the long run) if all the States declined to share responsibility for protecting
the common resource.41 This principle is traditionally understood as
consisting of two elements: the fi rst concerning the common responsibilities
for the protection of the environment on national, regional and global
levels; and the second concerning the taking into account of diff erent
circumstances, in particular, each State*s contribution to the creation of
a particular environmental problem and each other*s ability to prevent,
reduce and control the threat.42 The second element is based on a concept
of an obligation to make resources available to developing States rather
than the developed States only assisting them. The concept of common
but diff erentiated responsibilities also takes into account the economic
and social reality, which in fact means that a much more fl exible approach
is adopted to global environmental issues.43 There are, however, quite a
few stumbling blocks in the implementation of this principle, e.g. how an
international agreement can precisely refl ect the contribution of particular
States to environmental problems; and whether it is a correct approach
to defi ne an obligation of a State on the basis of its contribution to environmental
damage.44 The whole concept is again rather ill-defi ned and
imprecise from the normative point of view,45 and its legal content does
not really defi ne what the precise scope of obligations and corresponding
40 V. Lowe, &Sustainable Development and Unsustainable Arguments*, in A. Boyle and
D. Freestone (eds), International Law and Sustainable Development: Past Achievements and
Future Challenges (1999) 19, at 29.
41 Porras, supra note 2, at 250.
42 Ibid.
43 D. French, &Developing States and International Environmental Law: The Importance
of Diff erentiated Responsibilities*, 49 ICLQ (2000) 35, at 41.
44 Ibid., at 48.
45 There is a host of very diff erent views on the normative content of this principle. Some
of the authors, like Philippe Sands, treat its general status as an open question (P. Sands,
Principles of International Environmental Law (2003), at 289); Patricia Birnie and Alan Boyle
look upon it as a &framework principle* and just as &soft law* (Birnie/Boyle, supra note 39,
at 300); Dinah Shelton sees the status of this principle as &not entirely clear* and queries
whether:
Sustainable development 77
rights is.46 Even the authors who have contrasting views, asserting that
environmental law, unlike from developmental law, encompasses the language
of rights and duties, admit that the framework of rights and duties
in environmental law assisted in &conveying the idea . . . that environmental
obligations are not subject to equitable balancing of competing interests*.47
It is noted that some rules of international environmental law (such as the
inclusion of the principle of common but diff erentiated responsibilities in
several multilateral environmental agreements) are subject to modifi cation
by States if there is the political will to do so. In other branches of international
environmental law, such as the allocation of transboundary natural
resources, however, the concept of the inclusion of environmental impact
as one of the criteria in the establishment of equitable regimes for the
utilization of shared resources was not endorsed.48 Rajamani asserts that
even though there is insuffi cient evidence that this principle has entered the
body of international (environmental) law, &it may still possess a ※species
of normativity, implying a certain legal gravitas§*, and it may form within
the context of international environmental law &the bedrock of the burdensharing
arrangments crafted in diff erent environmental treaties* and constitute
part and parcel of the conceptual apparatus of a particular regime,
and in that capacity &it forms the basis for the interpretation of existing
obligations and the elaboration of future international obligations within
the regime in question*.49 The above, comprehensive description of the role
which the CBDR principle plays in international environmental law (and
&it is a fundamental principle of international environmental law, a bundle of some or all of
the above factors that lead to equitable decision-making, or itself a rule of equity remains
debated.*
D. Shelton, &Equity*, in D. Bodansky et al. (eds), Oxford Handbook of International
Environmental Law (2007) 639, at 657. Urlich Beyerlin views Principle 7 as containing &principle
of co-operation*: U. Beyerlin, &Diff erent Types of Norms in International Environmental
Law. Policies, Principles and Rules*, in ibid., 425, at 442.
46 See in depth Cullet II, supra note 29, at 83每93; see also Y. Matsui, &The Principle of
※Common but Diff erentiated Responsibilities§*, in N. Schrijver and F. Weiss, International
Law and Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice (2004) 73, at 96; See comments on
the various theories concerning sustainable development in Marong, supra note 7, at 43每76;
see also Rajamani, supra note 26. Although G邦nther Handl argues that sustainable development
is the pivotal concept, round which legally signifi cant expectations regarding environmental
behaviour are crystallizing, and that it may evolve into the norm of jus cogens. He
stresses defi nitional problems surrounding this concept: G. Handl, &Environmental Security
and Global Challenge*, 1 YBIEL (1990) 3, at 25每6.
47 X. Fuentes, &International Law-Making in the Field of Sustainable Development: The
Unequal Competition Between Development and the Environment*, in Schrijver/Weiss, supra
note 46, 7 at 20 and more generally 7每51.
48 Ibid.
49 Rajamani, supra note 26, at 160.
78 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
at the same time in sustainable development) does not conceal the fact
that the CBDR lacks legal precision. The World Summit on Sustainable
Development (&the Johannesburg Summit* or the &WSSD*) in 2002 further
evidenced that under the sustainable development umbrella States understand
diff erent legal (or non-legal) concepts, and that some of its components,
in particular common but diff erentiated responsibilities, still result
in completely polarized views as to legal content, legal consequences and
the structure of rights and obligations.
The manner in which the WSSD Plan of Implementation referred to
the principle of common but diff erentiated responsibilities resulted in
acrimonious exchanges between developed and developing States.50 It has
to be noted, however, that certain authors perceive that, as a result of the
2002 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development, &the principle of
common but diff erentiated responsibilities emerged strengthened, broadened
and invigorated by WSSD*,51 as its scope has been broadened to
encompass such goals as poverty eradication. Such a wide interpretation
of this principle requires a well-developed framework of implementation,
with the implications of the increased commitments to fi nancial aid; the
provision in treaty regimes for the structures facilitating the application
50 Plan of Implementation (PoI), para. 81, cited by Pallemaerts, supra note 14, at 9. The
contentious paragraph of the PoI asks States for a &substantial increased eff ort, both by
countries themselves and by the rest of international community* for the &implementation
of Agenda 21 and the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals*. As
Pallemaerts comments, &In this paragraph, the recognition that each country has primary
responsibility for its own development* is counterbalanced by the proviso, &taking fully into
account the Rio principles, including in particular the principle of common but diff erentiated
responsibilities*, again followed by an in extenso question from the text of Principle 7 of the
Rio Declaration. This compromise was the only way out of a stalemate in which most industrialized
countries adamantly insisted that the principle of common but diff erentiated responsibilities
applied only in the context of action to address threats to the global environment,
while developing countries wished to emphasize, in particular, the sentence in Principle 7 in
which developed countries &acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international
pursuit of sustainable development in view of pressures their societies place on the global environment
and of the technologies and fi nancial resources they command*. The same author
explains that this statement lead to the US delegation making the following statement:
&The United States does not accept any interpretation of Principle 7 that would imply a
recognition or acceptance by the United States of any international obligations or liability,
or any diminution of the responsibilities of developing countries under international
law,*
Pallemaerts, supra note 14, at 9.
51 M.-C. Cordonier Segger et al., &Prospects for Principles of International Sustainable
Development Law after the WSSD: Common but Diff erentiated Responsibilities, Precaution
and Participation*, 12 RECIEL (2003) 54, at 58. See also M.-C. Cordonier Segger and A.
Khalfan (eds), Sustainable Development Law, Principles, Practices & Prospects (2004) at
137每43.
Sustainable development 79
of this principle; and the inclusion of this principle in the context of social
and economic developments.52 This above statement does not refer to its
legal content, but rather to its political role in structuring international
environmental law and combating poverty.
The question then may be posed if the core principles of the concept of
sustainable development are so vague in their legal content, what are the
normative content and the defi nition of sustainable development itself?
Doctrine in this respect remains mostly unhelpful due to the largely contradictory
character of various pronouncements as regards sustainable
development.
The most extreme condemnation of the concept of sustainable on the
economic, moral and ethical grounds was submitted by Professor Wilfred
Beckerman.53 The main premise of his critique is based on an argument
that tragic environmental conditions in the world are due to poverty and
lack of respect for human rights, not &un-sustainable* development, which
in itself is no more than an ill-conceived and harmful catch-phrase. Only
the gist of Beckerman*s critique will be presented here as it impossible
within the structure of this chapter to describe all the arguments against
sustainable development. Beckerman asserts that:
the support for sustainable development is based on a fl agrant disregard of the
relevant factual evidence . . . It is founded of two indefensible propositions. The
fi rst is the positive proposition that economic growth will soon come up against
the limits of resource availability. It is argued that action is required to reduce to
&sustainable* levels the rate at which resources are used 每 an impossible task, of
course, unless we were to stop using some resources completely . . . The second
fundamental principle underlying the campaigns for sustainable development is
that it represents the moral high ground. Apparently, it does so largely because
it places more emphasis on intergenerational equity than do conventional
economic principles . . . In fact, coherent reasons are rarely given for believing
that sustainable development is an ethically superior goal to the conventional
economists* goal of maximising the sum of human welfare over future generations,
and vague hand-waving in the direction of intergenerational justice or
be enough to shame any critics of sustainable development54 . . . if therefore
the increasing popularity of the concept of sustainable development cannot be
explained by its intellectual strength, its growing infl uence on international and
national policy might perhaps be better explained by reference to sociological
phenomena, such as the public*s appetite for dramatic environmental scare
stories or politician*s tendency to jump on media-supported bandwagons.55
52 Cordonier Segger et al., supra note 51, at 58.
53 W. Beckerman, A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth
(2003).
54 Ibid., at pp. xi and xii.
55 Ibid., at pp. xii.
80 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Beckerman is of the view that the popularity of sustainable development
is exploited by certain bodies to gain more power and have access to subsidies.
These include manufacturers of e.g. low-carbon forms of energy,
bureaucrats who aim at expanding their budgets and obtain promotion by
showing more projects they have to manage and how many more regulations
they have to implement; media which paint for the public a picture
of an apocalyptic state, in which they live on the edge due to environment
disaster, instead of &leading rather boring and monotonous lives*; and,
lastly, environmental pressure groups attempting to expand their memberships
and budgets.56 Beckerman is particularly critical as regards the moral
and legal premises on which intergenerational justice is based and, as an
economist, is of the view that:
Before asking present generations 每 including the poorer members 每 to make
sacrifi ces in the interests of future generations, one should take account of the
strong likelihood that the latter will be far richer than the former. No moral
credit can be earned by redistributing from the poor to rich.57
A reserved and cautious approach to sustainable development is represented
by Professor Lowe, who argues that views based on the premise that
sustainable development has a normative value (in relation to the judgment
in the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros case), are simply &not sustainable*.58 He states
that sustainable development as such is not a norm, any more than a label
for a set of norms. It lacks normativity, as it &by defi nition, must express
itself in normative terms: it must be possible to phrase a norm in normative
language*.59 Sustainable development is deprived of &a fundamentally
norm-creating character*.60 It is, according to Lowe, a &meta-principle*
which may exercise a sort of &interstitial activity, pushing and pulling the
56 Ibid., at pp. xii and xiii. This author further says:
&Backed up by politicians who can recognise a good bandwagon when they can see one, this
coalition of forces is certain to win 每 at least in rich countries. Everybody can join. Any pet
project 每 ranging from dislike of traffi c congestion and concerns for the bald eagle to fear
that our grandchildren will be deprived of essential materials for survival 每 can qualify for
inclusion under sustainable development banner. No scientifi c proof, no serious logical
argument is needed to ensure that one*s pet project or preference wins approval is to cant
mantra &this is needed in the interests of sustainable development* or to refer knowingly to
the dictates of the mysterious precautionary principle.*
57 Ibid. He wrote about this in several publications on intergenerational justice, such as
W. Beckerman and J. Pasek, Justice, Posteriority, and the Environment (2001).
58 Lowe, supra note 40, at 30.
59 Ibid., at 26.
60 Ibid., at 30.
Sustainable development 81
boundaries of true primary norms when they threaten to overlap or confl ict
with each other*.61 Therefore, such a norm according to the same author
is a &modifying norm*, infl uencing the relationship between other norms.62
It will acquire normative force and, when used by a judge, &it will colour
the understanding of the norms that it modifi es*. It is, therefore, a political
rather than legal principle. Lowe*s statement that sustainable development
fundamentally lacks norm- creating character was criticized by Beyerlin
who stated as follows:
If [this statement] should mean that this concept can never be a source from
which subsequent (legal) norms can fl ow, this perception is hardly persuasive.
First, it somehow contradicts Lowe*s understanding that the sustainable development
can modify a primary norm because, if doing so, it would possibly
generate a new (modifi ed) norm. Moreover, it neglects the experience that political
or moral ideals, although not possessing normativity of their own, can be
catalysts in the process of further developing international law.63
Professor Sands expressed dramatically diff erent views. Commenting on
the abovementioned Gabčikovo-Nagymaros case, he said that this sustainable
development has a normative content (therefore is more than a &mere
concept*) and is already a principle which is a constituent part of modern
international law, not only due to its inescapable logical necessity, but also
by reason of its wide and general acceptance by international community.
64 Beyerlin represents a view which is a middle way between these two
extreme views (he accords the concept of sustainable development normativity
under certain conditions). According to this author, prima facie, the
&composite* term &sustainable development* defi nes:
a political value that deserves respect in today*s international relations. As
indicated by the term &development*, it does not set a clear target to be fi nally
achieved but instead points to a process of interaction that should be set in
motion, without saying by whom.65
He is also of the view that certain defi nitions of sustainable development
(such as the Brundtland defi nition) gave life to this concept. Drawing from
Principle 4 (the principle of the integration of the environment and development)
of the Rio Declaration, Beyerlin reaches the conclusion that:
61 Ibid., at 31.
62 Ibid., at 33.
63 Beyerlin, supra note 45, at 445.
64 Sands, supra note 45, at 254; P. Sands, &International Courts and Tribunals and the
Application of the Concept of ※Sustainable Development§*, 3 Max Planck Y.B. UN.L (1999)
389, at 389每407.
65 Beyerlin, supra note 45, at 443.
82 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Profi led in such a way, sustainable development may be understood as a normative
concept that gives important impulses and political guidance for all players
acting in the fi eld of international environmental protection and the environment.
However, there is continuing uncertainty among states in regard to the
exact meaning and scope of this concept.66
Most importantly, however, he is of the view that sustainable development,
&because of its irridescent content and scope, has been assigned to the
sphere of mere ※political ideals§. It is, however, an apt source from which
subsequent legal norms may fl ow.*67 Professor Boyle suggests that sustainable
development may be assessed as a &soft law general principle*:
Modifying norms and principles need not impose obligations or regulate
conduct, they do not depend on State practice and they do not need the same
clarity or precision as rules. General principles of this kind may be soft, but . . .
legally irrelevant when courts or international bodies have to apply or develop
international law.68
Magraw and Hawke assert as &the most important implication of the
concept of sustainable development . . . its focus on a holistic approach to
policies that may aff ect development and environment*.69 They emphasize
that sustainable development is based on interdependence of the biosphere,
of human endeavours inter se, and of human activities and nature.
Consideration of these interdependencies requires the integration of a
variety of factors.70 This is the role of the principle of integration (Principle
4 of the Rio Declaration), which infl uences policy makers to take account
of these interdependencies and to consider the impact of their policies.71
Magraw and Hawke have a practical approach to the problem of sustainable
development and observe that achieving it requires the utilization of
natural resources in a sustainable manner, as well as bringing local (indigenous)
communities into the decision-making process.72 These authors
present a very useful list of tools which are indispensable to implement the
concept of sustainable development, such as transparency, public participation
and access to justice, impact assessment and accounting techniques.73
66 Ibid.
67 Ibid., at 447.
68 A. Boyle, &Soft Law in International Law-Making*, in M. Evans (ed.), International
Law (2006) 141, at 153.
69 Magraw/Hawke, supra note 6, at 628.
70 Ibid.
71 Ibid.
72 Ibid., at 629.
73 Ibid., at 632每7.
Sustainable development 83
The existing jurisprudence of international courts and tribunals sheds
very little light on the issue of the legal nature of sustainable development.
It may be said, however, that the judgment of the ICJ in the Gabčikovo-
Nagymaros case gave the impetus to the discussion on sustainable
development at international judicial forums.74 The Court noted:
In order to evaluate the environmental risks, current standards must be taken
into consideration. This is not only allowed by the wording of Articles 15 and 19,
but even prescribed, to the extent that these articles impose a continuing 每 and
thus necessarily evolving 每 obligation on the parties to maintain the quality of
the water of the Danube and to protect nature.
The Court is mindful that, in the fi eld of environmental protection, vigilance
and prevention are required on account of often irreversible character of damage
to the environment and of the limitations inherent in the very mechanism of
reparation of this type of damage.
Throughout the ages, mankind has, for economic and other reasons, constantly
interfered with nature. In the past, this was often without considerations
of the eff ects upon the environment. Owing to new scientifi c insights and to a
growing awareness of the risks for mankind 每 for present and future generations
每 of pursuit of such interventions at an unconsidered and unabated pace,
new norms and standards have been developed, set forth in a great number of
instruments during the last two decades. Such new norms have to be taken into
consideration, and such new standards given proper weight, not only when
States contemplate new activities but also continuing with activities begun
in the past. This need to reconcile economic development with protection of
the environment is aptly expressed in the concept of sustainable development
[paragraph 140].
In Sands* view this statement of the Court evidences that sustainable
development has a &judicial function* and that it is most likely that this
concept entered the body of international customary law, &requiring diff erent
streams to be treated in an integrated manner*.75 However, the majority
of writers have doubts as regards the Court*s statement with respect to the
nature of sustainable development. As was observed above, Lowe regards
this statement as &not sustainable*, and Magraw and Hawke consider this
statement of the Court as indicating that the majority of the Court treats
sustainable development as a &concept* which has &substantial relevance*.76
These authors observe, however, that:
74 Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment
of 25 September 1997 [1997] ICJ Rep. 7; see also Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros
Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment of 25 September 1997 (Separate Opinion of Vice-
President Weeramantry) [1997] ICJ Rep. 88; see also Lowe, supra note 40, at 19每37.
75 Sands, supra note 45, at 254.
76 Magraw/Hawke, supra note 6, at 624.
84 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
the Court failed to develop the analysis further. This analysis seems to fall short
of stating that sustainable development is one of those new norms or standards
to which the majority referred.77
Judge Weermantry*s assessment of sustainable development as voiced
in his Separate Opinion is less cautious, as he assesses sustainable development
as &a principle with normative value* which found acceptance by the
global community.78
The Court increasingly refers to the concept of sustainable development.
In the 2006 Order on the Request for the Indication of Provisional
Measures in the Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay, the
Court noted that:
the present case highlights the importance of the need to ensure environmental
protection of shared natural resources while allowing for sustainable economic
development, whereas it is in particular necessary to bear in mind the reliance of
the Parties on the quality of the water of the River Uruguay for their livelihood
and economic development; whereas from this point of view, account must be
taken of the need to safeguard the continued conservation of the river environment
and of the rights of economic development of the riparian States; (para.
80 of the Order).79
However, neither the jurisprudence of the ICJ nor that of other courts and
tribunals has defi nitely resolved or clarifi ed the legal character of sustainable
development. One such example is the so-called Iron Rhine case in
which the Arbitral Panel said:
There is considerable debate as to what, within the fi eld of environmental law,
constitutes &rules* or &principles*; what is &soft law*; and which environmental
treaty law or principles have contributed to the development of customary international
law. Without entering further into those controversies, the Tribunal
notes that in all of these categories, &environment* is broadly referred to as
including air, water, land, fl ora and fauna, natural ecosystems and sites, human
77 Ibid.
78 Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment
of 25 September 1997 (Separate Opinion of Vice-President Weeramantry) [1997] ICJ Rep. 88,
at 88. In his presentation, &Sustainable Development: An Ancient Concept Recently Revived*
in 2002 (Johannesburg) at the United Nation*s Environment Programme*s Global Judges
Symposium on Sustainable Development and the Role of Law, he stated that sustainable
development is a customary law principle with erga omnes character; see supra note 74.
79 Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay), Request for
Indication of Provisional Measures, Order of 13 July 2006 [2006] ICJ Rep. 19, at para. 80. See
also: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/fi les/135/11235.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008). On the
Order see M. Fitzmaurice, &Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (or not, as the case may be)*, 2
Hague Justice Journal/Journal Judiciaire De La Haye (2007) 61, at 61每4.
Sustainable development 85
health and safety, and climate. The emerging principles, whatever their current
status, make reference to conservation, management, notions of prevention
and of sustainable development, and protection for future generations (para. 58
of the Arbitral Award). Since the Stockholm Conference on the Environment
in 1972 there has been a marked development of international law relating
to the protection of the environment. Today, both international and EC law
require the integration of appropriate environmental measures in the design
and implementation of economic development activities. Principle 4 of the Rio
Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted in 1992 . . . which
refl ects this trend, provides that &environmental protection shall constitute an
integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation
from it*. Importantly, these emerging principles now integrate environmental
protection into the development process. Environmental law and the law on
development stand not as alternatives but as mutually reinforcing, integral
concepts, which require that where development may cause signifi cant harm to
the environment there is a duty to prevent, or at least mitigate, such harm . . .
This duty, in the opinion of the Tribunal, has now become a principle of general
international law. This principle applies not only in autonomous activities but
also in activities undertaken in implementation of specifi c treaties between the
Parties. The Tribunal would recall the observation of the International Court
of Justice in the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros case that &[t]his need to reconcile economic
development with protection of the environment is aptly expressed in
the concept of sustainable development* ( . . . ). And in that context the Court
further clarifi ed that &new norms have to be taken into consideration, and . . .
new standards given proper weight, not only when States contemplate new
activities but also when continuing with activities begun in the past* (. . .). In
the view of the Tribunal this dictum applies equally to the Iron Rhine railway
[paragraph 59 of the Award].80
The Arbitral Tribunal made some interesting statements, however,
which to a certain degree contribute to a further understanding of the
relationship between environment and development. First, it approached
environment and development as mutually reinforcing, integral concepts,
not as alternatives; secondly, the development cannot be unlimited but
is restricted by the signifi cant harm to the environment it may cause.
Further, such signifi cant harm is linked to the duty to prevent it or at least
to mitigate it. The Tribunal acknowledged that such a duty had become a
principle of general international law.
In the light of the above, it is a very daunting, if not impossible, task to
draw any general conclusions as to the elusive nature of sustainable development,
its components and its eff ectiveness. As Boyle and Freestone rightly
note, the inclusion of Article 4 in the Rio Declaration has not solved the
80 Iron Rhine Arbitration (Belgium v. Netherlands), Arbitration (2005), at 28每9, available
at: http://www.pca-cpa.org/upload/fi les/BE-NL%20Award%20corrected%20200905.pdf
(last visited on 10 July 2008).
86 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
continuing confl ict between environmental protection and development.81
The ambiguous formulation of this principle can give rise to divergent
interpretations: one according supremacy to environmental protection
over development; and the other asserting the opposite, the supremacy of
development over environmental protection.82 In the view of the present
author, attempts to defi ne the concept from the normative point of view are
a futile exercise. Sustainable development, even as a purely political statement,
must have impacted in some way on international environmental law
(the second part of this chapter will investigate this issue within the IMO
and the Baltic Sea context). As French observes:
Sustainable development has come a long way since it was fi rst discussed in
the 1980s . . . Despite the painfully slow rate of implementation, sustainable
development remains a signifi cant concept in international discourse. . . . [t]he
enormity of challenges 每 both socio-economic and ecological 每 makes working
towards sustainable development imperative both locally and on the global
agenda. Of course, law cannot, in and of itself, meet such challenges; nevertheless,
it has a fundamental role to play in establishing necessary framework,
a framework that includes rule-development, organisational change and the
elaboration of juridical principle83
The previous analysis concerning sustainable development indicates
that there is no uniform and widely accepted notion of sustainable development
and that, perhaps, the eff orts to identify such defi nition will be futile.
There are some authors who indeed abandon the positivist legal analysis
of the nature of this concept as yielding only limited answers, and look
at the broader structures other than legal, such as international relations
discourse, which takes account of a multiplicity of actors, including States,
civil society, epistemic communities and individuals. This idea is based on
a premise that the genesis of this concept is not attributable exclusively to
the activities of States, and therefore a statist approach to law-making does
not refl ect reality.84 Further, it has been argued that a more illuminating
analytical approach would be to investigate how the law can contribute to
the realization of sustainable development. 85
Recent practice also indicates that there is no more integration of economic
development and environment in the form in which it was perceived
at the 1992 Rio Summit, as at present economic development has taken
81 Boyle/Freestone, supra note 2.
82 M. Pallemaerts, &International Environmental Law from Stockholm to Rio: Back to
the Future?*, in P. Sands (ed.), Greening International Law (1993) 1, at 17.
83 French, supra note 8.
84 Marong, supra note 7, at 75每6.
85 Ibid., at 76.
Sustainable development 87
precedence over environmental protection. However, the most recent
statement of Mr Stavros Dimas, a member of the EU Commission responsible
for the environment, may be of interest:
The idea that there is a direct trade-off between either protecting nature or
economic growth is an outdated and a mistaken argument. It is perfectly
possible to do both and the reality is that a degraded environment acts as a
brake on development. Since all human activity ultimately depends on nature
a genuinely sustainable economy depends on a sustainable environment . . . I
can assure you that we aim to design and implement the policy in a way that
does not restrict economic development. But, as I mentioned at the beginning
of this presentation, the loss of biodiversity is a threat of the same magnitude
as climate change. I am therefore convinced that future generations will thank
us for taking decisive measures to protect our natural heritage. This statement
perhaps indicated that the environment is going to be once again an equal
partner of the development . . .86
III. SOME EXAMPLES OF THE APPLICATION OF
THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:
THE IMO AND THE 1992 BALTIC SEA AREA
1. The IMO and Sustainable Development
There are some examples from the practice of the IMO and the Helsinki
Commission87 indicating that sustainable development has very diversifi
ed uses. In some cases it is treated as a political statement more than
a term with legal content, more as a guideline setting the general policy
than precise legal obligations. In other instances, it has a certain political
element, but combined with more specifi c obligations. The application of
the concept of sustainable development in the Baltic Sea area, on the other
hand, constitutes a very interesting example of how it can work in practice
in concrete terms, not based on the theoretical considerations presented
above. Within the IMO, by contrast, sustainable development is treated in
a rather general manner.
An example of the fi rst use of the term is the 2005 conference on
&Sustainable Shipping 每 Progress in a Changing World*, during which the
Secretary-General of the IMO stated:
86 Stavros Dimas, Member of the European Commission, responsible for environment
Natura 2000 an Opportunity for or an Obstacle to Development ALDE Public Debate
Brussels, 16 April 2008, available online at: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.
do?reference=SPEECH/08/200 (last visited on 10 July 2008).
87 On the general issues of the IMO and the Helsinki Convention see Chapter 1.
88 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
There is a host of other defi nitions, all of which contain similar concepts, and I
could go on but, however, . . . I hope we can at least agree that the concept of
sustainability is not only desirable but in fact an absolute prerequisite if we are
to look beyond the requirements of our own generation and consider our legacy
to generations to come.88
The speaker observed that it is a formidable task to implement in practice
the three pillars of sustainable development: environment, economic and
social issues. In the area of shipping, sustainability should be evaluated on
the basis of:
the contribution of the activity as a whole makes to global economic and social
prosperity, and weigh that against any detrimental eff ect it may have, mainly on
our environment but also in other regards.
The Resolution A.901(21), adopted in 1999 on &IMO and Technical
Co-operation in the 2000s* sets out the Objectives of the IMO as a
commitment:
to ensuring the fulfi lment of the Organisation*s aims and objectives and to
setting of clear priorities for the purpose of achieving them in a uniform manner
on a global basis; and directed to Committees, under the co-ordination of the
Council, to focus their attention on, among other subjects, strengthening the
Organisation*s technical co-operation programmes and delivery to achieve sustainable
development and eff ective implementation of the Integrated Technical
Co-operation Programme.
Another example is a very recent one from the practice of the Marine
Environmental Protection Committee, a Resolution on Prevention of Air
Pollution from Ships,89 in which it was stated:
Climate change will impact all, but most severely the less developed and vulnerable
countries. The response to climate change has, therefore, to be rooted
in sustainable development and equity, recognizing the vulnerability of the
least privileged countries and their need for economic growth and poverty
alleviation.
An example of the second, more concrete use of the concept of sustainable
development can be found in the paper presented by Mr Hamzah,
Director-General of the Maritime Consultancy Enterprise on Ports and
88 Document on fi le with the author.
89 MEPC, 57th session Agenda item 4, 21 January 2008, available online at: http://www.
endseuropedaily.com/docs/80403d.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
Sustainable development 89
Sustainable Development.90 In this paper he presents certain concrete
postulates. After an initial general reference to sustainable development, he
gives examples of certain more precise manifestations of the concept. He
starts the general defi nition of the concept as follows:
In this paper, the concept of sustainability is defi ned as development that meets
present needs without compromising the future. In the Brundtland Report
sustainability is defi ned as &the ability to meet today*s global economic, environmental
and social needs without compromising the opportunity of future
generations to meet theirs*. The emphasis is on global economic, environmental
and social development of humanity. Here lies the diff erence between the earlier
concepts of sustainability in traditional societies whose development horizon
was limited to its territorial limit.
However, later in the study, the author off ers certain concrete examples
of how sustainable development will be achieved in the context of ports.
He said:
It is in this context of global growth that we need to address the issue of ports
and sustainability. Ports are usually located in coastal zone and have a special
relationship with the ocean. An integrated coastal zone management often seeks
to include a large portion of the ocean especially the shallow part of the continental
shelf which forms a natural prolongation of the land-mass. The ocean
and coastal space provide the majority of world*s ecosystem which are critical
to human survival.
In 2007, at the meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable
Development, an address was given by Mr David Edwards, Director,
Technical Co-operation Division International Maritime Organization, in
which he referred to sustainable development in a general manner, which
similarly to previous examples was couched in terms of a policy statement.
He said as follows: &in the context of sustainable development, shipping is
a very positive force, making a major contribution to global prosperity in a
way that has only a relatively small negative impact on the global environment*.
In general his presentation was mostly devoted to the considerable
input of the IMO to the global protection of the environment and safety
of maritime traffi c, which are contributory factors to sustainable development.
91 The Resolution on the Promotion of Technical Co-operation
adopted by the Legal Committee of the IMO, included the invocation of
90 B.A. Hamzah, &Ports and Sustainable Development: Initial Thoughts*, available
online at: http://www.unitar.org/hiroshima/programmes/shs04/Presentations%20SHS/7%20
July/Hamzah_doc.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
91 Commission on Sustainable Development 每 15th session, 2007 Statement by the
International Maritime Organization P,resented by David Edwards, Director, Technical
90 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
this concept, without providing concrete details: &. . . affi rmed that IMO*s
work in developing global maritime standards and in providing technical
co-operation for their eff ective implementation and enforcement, can and
does, contribute to sustainable development. . .*.92
In conclusion on the IMO and the application of sustainable development
it may be said that the IMO is mindful of this concept and promotes
its implementation. However, this concept within the structure of the
IMO is treated as a policy statement which does not go into the details
of its implementation. It may be argued, of course, that the myriad of
conventions drafted within the IMO, aimed at safety of navigation, the
protection of the environment and the promotion of development, various
Codes of Conduct and Resolutions constitute a nexus contributing to the
implementing of sustainable development by their very nature. It would be
useful, however, if the IMO produced a document which set out the goals
of sustainable development within this organization and the methods of
implementation in a general and structured manner, rather than, as is done
at present, through a piecemeal approach, based on political statements
and various resolutions.
2. The Baltic Sea Area Environmental Protection and Sustainable
Development
The 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Baltic Sea Area
does not in itself provide a suffi cient picture of the problems relating to the
implementation of sustainable development, or the role that the concept
plays, in this area.
As early as in 1998, it was observed that the achievement of sustainable
development faces many obstacles, such as incomplete legislation, weak
enforcement of law, custom and certifi cation problems, illegal trade, defi -
ciencies in the taxation system and ineff ective administration, especially
in new democracies. On a national level both the integration of economic,
environmental and social concerns by applying a holistic, long-term perspective
and cooperation between sectors are insuffi cient. There is also
the lack of well-defi ned goals in some sectors. The lack of knowledge and
Co-operation Division International Maritime Organization. Available online at: http://
www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/statements/imo_10may.pdf.
92 International Conference on Liability and Compensation For Bunker Oil
Pollution Damage, 2001, Agenda item 8LEG/CONF.12/18, 2001, Adoption of the
Final Act and any Instruments, Recommendations, and Resolutions Resulting from
The Work of the Conference. Available online at: http://www.igpandi.org/downloadables/
submissions/imo/IMO%20LEG%2094%20Paper%20-%20October%202008.pdf.
Sustainable development 91
awareness regarding sustainable development among private individuals
and public authorities is the fundamental obstacle.93
However, practice evidences that the content of the concept of sustainable
development as conceptualized and applied in the Baltic Sea Area
is couched in concrete terms and refers to the system of management,
in contrast to the practice of the IMO. The Council of the Baltic Sea
States (the &CBSS*)94 in 2003 adopted &The Baltic States Declaration on
Environment and Sustainable Development*.95 This document, apart
from the usual language, contains rather detailed (for such a type of declaration),
guidelines on particular areas in which this concept should be
implemented and in what manner. It went as follows:
1. In the context of the new opportunities in Northern Europe with the EU
enlargement, environmental investments and the increasing close co-operation
between the EU and the Russian Federation, we are determined to reinforce
out eff orts to promote sustainable development for the Baltic Sea Region. 3. We
underline the importance of the further development and strengthening of the
Northern Dimension (ND) policies of the European Union. The implementation
of the second ND Action Plan 2004每2006 and the ND Partnership adds new
opportunities for the environmental and cross-border co-operation in the Baltic
Sea Region between the EU countries and the Russian Federation. The central
role of water and the need for a special focus on consumption and production,
including energy and transport has to be emphasised. The activities of diff erent
bodies in the region should contribute to the objective of attaining sustainable
development in relevant sectors . . . 5. The Turku Forum on the 9每10 July
emphasized the role of civil society in the sustainable development process and
urged CBSS to reinforce Baltic 21.96 We pledge to promote further civil society
participation in environmental activities in the Baltic Sea region.
93 Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region, supra note 104, at 10每11.
94 The Council of the Baltic Sea States was established at a conference of the foreign ministers
of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and
Sweden and a member of the European Commission in Copenhagen in March 1992. Iceland
joined the CBSS in 1995. The CBSS serves as an overall regional forum for intergovernmental
cooperation, focusing on the need for intensifi ed coordination of activities in virtually every
fi eld of government (with the exception of military defence, which is explicitly excluded as
a potential area of cooperation in the Council*s Terms of Reference) among the Baltic Sea
States. CBSS Ministerial meetings have been held in the following fi elds: agriculture; children*s
aff airs; culture, economic aff airs; education; energy; fi nance; health; information technology;
interior; justice; labour; social aff airs; spatial planning; trade and industry; transport;
youth aff airs. CBSS meetings at the level of Directors General have been held in the following
fi elds: border control, civil protection, customs, prosecutors-general, tax administration.
Information is available online at: http://www.cbss.st/history/ (last visited on 10 July 2008).
95 Senior Offi cial Group (SOG) Nineteenth Meeting, Straslund, Germany, 23每24 October
2003, CBSS Ministerial Meeting, Luleå, 29 August 2003, Baltic Sea States* Declaration on
Environment and Sustainable Development.
96 The Baltic 21 is The Baltic Institute for Sustainable Industry consisting of research
institutes, universities, companies, business associations and authorities, aiming to catalyse
92 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The CBSS Ministerial Meeting specifi ed the areas of particular importance
in which sustainable development should play the most fundamental
role. First, in view of the development of principle sustainable development,
synergies and eff ective division of labour in the Baltic Sea, regional
cooperation is encouraged. Cooperation between HELCOM and the
Baltic 21 is also promoted in order to link sector policies and projects to
the improvement of the Baltic Sea environment.
The CBSS invited all bodies to participate in a Baltic dialogue and to
establish partnerships with a view to joint action to tackle existing and
emerging environmental issues (paragraph 6 of the Declaration). As to
the legal issues relating to the environment, in view of the enlargement
of the EU, special attention should be paid to the harmonization of environmental
legislation between the EU and the Russian Federation, also
supporting the development of eff ective environmental management and
making full use of monitoring systems in the European Union (paragraph
7 of the Declaration). The Declaration also stressed the importance of
the environmental impact assessment in decision-making, taking into
consideration the increasing investment activity around the Baltic Sea
due to EU enlargement and increased economic activity. Therefore, transboundary
eff ects must be considered (paragraph 8 of the Declaration). The
Declaration also follows the postulates and aims of the 2002 Johannesburg
Summit on Sustainable Development. One such aim is the improvement of
water quality, which should become a focal point, with a view to improving
human health. The Ministers of the Environment reiterated their commitment
to the goals set at the World Summit, one of them being to halve by
2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking
water and access to basic sanitation (paragraph 9). Further, the Ministers
refer to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, which calls on all parties
and stakeholders to follow eff ectively the implementation of Agenda 21
and the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The
Plan mobilizes regional and subregional bodies as part of this process. The
practice of the Baltic Sea region should be reported to the United Nations
Commission on Sustainable Development based on a two-year cycle. The
Northern Dimension of the EU should be addressed in the EU follow-up
to the Summit (paragraph 10). The Declaration contains other general
postulates. The Ministers of the Environment called for further improved
coordination and collaboration between the regional organizations and
structures, in particular: the CBSS, Baltic 21, HELCOM, the Barents-Euro
sustainable development of the industrial sector in the Baltic Sea region and bridging knowledge
gaps between countries. See http://www.baltic21institute.org/ (last visited on 10 July
2008).
Sustainable development 93
Arctic Council, the Arctic Council, the Nordic Council of Ministers and
the Vision and Strategies Around the Baltic Sea (&VASAB*), and for the
increased involvement of the European Union in the region (paragraph
35).97 This Declaration is also linked with, or we may even say forms one
system with, the 2003 Joint Bremen Declaration.98 As already mentioned
above, the water-related issues are at present the most pressing issues in
the world (as evidenced by the Johannesburg Summit). This is also the
situation of the Baltic Sea, where sustainable development of water management
merited a whole part of the Declaration (Part I). In particular, the
Ministers of the Environment deal with the problems of reducing pressure
on the marine environment and combating the eutrophication of the Baltic
Sea. In order to achieve these aims continued eff orts must be made to invest
in sewage treatment with the aim of covering all catchment areas, including
St. Petersburg and the Neva area, and to develop and implement action
programmes for pollution reduction by nutrients from agriculture, in order
to diminish the impact on the surface and groundwaters, as well as on Baltic
Sea (paragraph 11). A matter of utmost urgency is the development of the
integrated water resources and coastal management and water effi ciency
plans by 2005, in accordance with the WSSD Plan of Implementation,
with the assistance of the CSD (paragraphs 13 and 16). Another area in
need of improvement is the enhancing of Baltic Sea maritime safety, due
to increased transportation (especially ships transporting oil). Therefore
the measures provided for in the HELCOM Copenhagen Declaration on
the Safety of Navigation and Emergency Capacity in the Baltic Sea Area
2001 should be implemented (paragraph 14). The Declaration also stresses
the importance of improving and managing the transboundary waters*
national and regional strategies, plans and programmes, according to the
schemes contained in the 1992 Helsinki Convention on the Protection and
Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (paragraph
15). The Declaration postulates the establishment of a well-managed and
ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas to protect biological
diversity (paragraph 17).
Another sector (Section II of the Declaration) which is particularly
important for the implementation of sustainable development is energy.
The Ministers of the Environment encouraged the Parties to the Baltic Sea
97 The VASAB is an intergovernmental programme at the ministerial level dealing
with spatial planning and development in the Baltic Sea Region. See http://europa.eu.int/
comm/ten/transport/revision/consultation/2003_09_10_vasab2010.pdf (last visited on 10 July
2008).
98 Para 12: &[w]e are committed to implement the HELCOM and OSPAR Ministerial
Declarations adopted on 25 June 2003 in Bremen, Germany*.
94 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Region Energy Cooperation (the &BASREC*) to continue the reduction
of environmental impacts while promoting the integration of the energy
markets in the Baltic Sea Area and to aim at the removal of market distortion,
thorough e.g. abolishing subsidies (paragraph 19). The Declaration
referred in the fi eld of energy also to the Johannesburg Declaration in order
to encourage States to set targets for substantial increases in contributions
to renewable energy sources as a proportion of total energy supply and
progressively to introduce energy effi cient technologies in each member
country of the BASREC, as well as to recognize the need to use the vast
potentials for bio-energy in the region by improving practice in the forestry,
agriculture and energy sectors (paragraphs 20, 21 and 23). The Declaration
also promotes the targets set by the Climate Change Convention and the
Kyoto Protocol, in particular to set up within BASREC the fl exible mechanisms
in the Kyoto Protocol (paragraph 22).
Following the postulates of the Johannesburg Summit, the Ministers
of the Environment aim at accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption
and production. Sustainable production and consumption will
be a crosscutting issue, which will be considered in all sectors (Section III,
paragraph 24). The Declaration is focused on the protection of human
health and the environment from harmful chemicals, and to this end the
use of the precautionary principle and the ratifi cation and implementation
of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (the &POPs*
Convention) and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent
(the &PIC* Convention) are promoted (paragraph 25). The Declaration also
promotes the use of clean transport and production methods. It also recommends
the development of corporate responsibility and accountability
as well as the exchange of best practices (paragraphs 26 and 27).
Part IV of the Declaration is on sustainable development and a sectoral
challenge. This section of the Declaration laid down the fundamental rules
on sustainable development as a sectoral challenge. First, the Ministers recognized
sectoral integration and broad multi-stakeholder participation as
major characteristics of sustainable development in the Baltic Sea Region,
including action to be taken within the Agenda 21 process, which needs
improvement (paragraph 28). Paragraph 29 lists the elements which will
be refl ected in the future work of and in the new mandate for Baltic 21.99
99 These elements are as follows:
&Consideration of the implications of the new Action Plan for the EU Northern
Dimension in its work; enhancement of sectors minister*s responsibility and strategic
development of their work within Baltic 21; development of cross-sectoral approach
and initiatives, taking into account relevant thematic clusters of the UN Commission on
Sustainable Development (the ※CSD§) two year cycles; further development of co-operation
with civil society and other stakeholders; application of precautionary approach with
Sustainable development 95
The sectoral development also includes the promotion of programmes for
sustainable agricultural production (with the assistance of Ministers of
Agriculture) to protect biodiversity and the rural landscape, phasing out
unsustainable subsidies, supporting organic production and avoiding the
use of pesticides (paragraph 31). Fish stocks have to return to sustainable
levels (paragraph 32) and forest management has to be on a sustainable
level, taking into account biodiversity (paragraph 33).
Another crucial element of sustainable development, i.e. education, was
also considered as one of the elements which has to be promoted, taking
into account the gender perspective (paragraph 34).
3. An Agenda for the Baltic Sea Region (the &Baltic 21*)
The Baltic Sea region was the fi rst region in the world to adopt common
goals and actions for the introduction of sustainable development. An
Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region 每 Baltic 21 is an international process
started by the Prime Ministers of the CBSS Member States in 1996. Baltic
21 has the objective of attaining sustainable development in the Baltic Sea
Region. The Baltic 21 members include the 11 CBSS Member States, the
European Commission, intergovernmental organizations, international
networks of sub-regional and local authorities, international fi nancial
institutions and various other non-governmental organizations.100 A new
mandate period for the Baltic 21 started in 2004.
Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region identifi ed the following key points:
♂ The economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development
interact and are integrated;
♂ An equal distribution of wealth in the region is assumed;
♂ The region*s carrying capacity is a limit to human activity; and
♂ The global context is taken into account, but the focus is on regional
issues.101
The Baltic 21 approach emphasized in particular that &sustainable development
is a comprehensive and integrated concept and requires a unifi ed
approach covering all aspects of society, including the seven Baltic secparticular
attention to action and coordination, specially on a local level; reinforced eff ects
of co-operation at project level, including developing Baltic 21 demonstration projects;
increased co-operation with fi nancial institutions and other regional bodies in order to
make the process more eff ective and to promote synergies; exploration of possibilities for
exchange of experiences with actors in other relevant regions, such as the Mediterranean
region and the Black Sea.*
100 See http://www.baltic21.org/ (last visited on 10 July 2008).
101 Ibid., at 11.
96 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
tors*.102 Agenda 21 for the Baltic also stressed the time factor required to
implement sustainable development policies.103
The main task of this programme is to implement Agenda 21 regionally.
These goals are construed so as to include an overall goal, goals for each of
eight Baltic sectors and a goal for spatial planning: the east每west responsibility
axis, sector targets and sector implementation provide the basis for
eff ecting the goals. Sector goals are based on the Vision of a Sustainable
Baltic Sea Region 2030.
Baltic 21 is developing the practice of sustainable development in a
30-year perspective, from the point of view of three pillars of sustainable
development: social, economic and environmental. Baltic 21 has set an
overall goal for sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region. &[T]he
essential objective of the Baltic Sea region cooperation is the constant
improvement of the living and working conditions of peoples within
the framework of sustainable development, sustainable management of
natural resources and protection of the environment.*104 The following are
the goals for the development of sustainable development for the Baltic Sea
region: a safe and healthy life for present and future generations; a prosperous
economy and society for all; local and regional cooperation based on
democracy, openness and participation; biological and ecosystem diversity
and productivity is restored or maintained; pollution to the atmosphere,
land and water does not exceed the assimilative capacity of nature; renewable
resources are effi ciently used and managed within their regeneration
capacity; use of non-renewable resources is made effi cient and cyclic and
renewable substitutes are created and promoted; awareness of the elements
and processes leading to sustainability is high among diff erent actors and
levels of society. The work of the programme is focused on seven economic
sectors: agriculture, fi sheries, energy, forests, industry, tourism and transport,
in addition to spatial planning and education.
Both the agreed goals and the Action Programme for Sustainable
Development constitute Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region. The Agenda
is based on seven sector reports and other background reports: spatial planning,
fi nancing options, indicators and scenarios. The Action Programme
comprises three parts: actors (issues concerning several sectors), priority
demonstration areas and pilot projects. In general terms the following
102 Ibid., at 14.
103 Ibid., at 16.
104 &About Baltic 21, Background, objectives, goals, strategy and actors*, available online
at: http://www.baltic21.org/?about (last visited on 10 July 2008). See also &An Agenda 21 for
the Baltic Sea Region-Baltic 21*, adopted at the 7th Ministerial Session of the Council of the
Baltic Sea States, Nyborg, 22每23 June 1998, available online at: http://www.baltic21.org/
attachments/b21_main_report__no._1_98____english.pdf.
Sustainable development 97
constitutes the core of the Action Programme: institution strengthening,
structural changes, education, exchange of experience and other nontechnical
initiatives.
Education, a very important element of sustainable development, plays
a crucial role in Baltic 21. In 2002, the Ministers for Education from the
CBSS countries adopted Baltic 21E, which is an Agenda 21 for education
in the Baltic Sea region. Baltic 21 has a duty to report to the Prime
Ministers approximately at fi ve-year intervals for consideration and decision
on whether any action is required.
Baltic 21 will achieve this goal through the implementation of a fourpronged
strategy:
1. It will support the CBSS and its processes in the pursuit of sustainable
development, especially to promote the integration of sustainable
development into regional policy-making.
2. Sectors and Spatial Planning will step up involvement in cross-sectoral
work and will jointly strive towards achieving the agreed goals.
This will take eff ect through multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders*
cooperation.
3. It will adopt and act as the umbrella for the set of so-called &Lighthouse
Projects* established to demonstrate sustainable development in action.
These projects will be earmarked to ensure high visibility and to secure
the participation of many countries and sectors and ensure a valueadded
contribution to regional sustainability.
4. It will identify funding sources in order to support the Lighthouse
Projects and other regional sustainable development initiatives.
Seven of the Baltic 21 sectors have common general issues (or policy
implications) concerning the implementation of sustainable development
in the Baltic Sea Region.105 They are, inter alia, as follows: the strengthening
of current democratic processes; the need for an enhanced national
and regionally harmonized regulatory framework in the region in which
sustainability was clearly incorporated; the wide incorporation of the
precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle in the region;
the further integration of economic, social and environmental aspects in
sectoral planning; increased public awareness of the need for sustainable
development and a change towards sustainable consumption; the wider
use of spatial planning instruments; increase in regional activities, transfer
of knowledge, technologies and resources including training, within the
105 Supra note 104.
98 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
framework of bilateral, multilateral and other cooperation or assistance
further towards supporting the Baltic 21 Action Programme; increased
regional cooperation through the establishment of regional structures,
such as common energy markets, common transport policies and the coordination
of activities between authorities (the development of harmonized
environmental legislation and taxes is necessary).106
Finally, the Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region 每 Baltic 21 presented
an overview of the general postulates on the implementation of Baltic
21 and the Action Programme. The main actors which bear responsibility
for the implementation are the governments, relevant sectors and the
EU. However, it is rightly noted that the governments cannot be the only
responsible entities, but the whole society, all the stakeholders, have to
be involved. The important, in fact the decisive, role to be played rests
on intergovernmental organizations. In particular, HELCOM, VASAB,
IBFSC and the IFIs are singled out. However, NGOs are also crucial partners
in the implementation of sustainable development in this region. These
include scientifi c, environmental and industrial organizations, networks
and sub-regional and national organizations. The role of governments is to
encourage and promote such participation. Of great importance is the role
of the Baltic Sea region municipalities and other local communities. It must
be observed in particular that BLA21F, the UBC, the Coalition Clean
Baltic (the &CCB*) and the Baltic Sea States Sub-regional Co-operation
(the &BSSSC*) are in the forefront of the implementation and the promotion
of the sustainable development programme. The Prime Ministers of
the Baltic Sea Region started Baltic 21 and they should maintain the steering
role and review the Programme on a regular basis (approximately on
a fi ve-yearly basis). Likewise, the role of the sectoral and environmental
ministers is stressed, and they should consider the progress made every
second or third year (with the possible participation of foreign ministers).
Baltic 21 also emphasizes the role of the Senior Offi cial Group (the &SOG*)
and its Bureau.107
106 Agenda 21 for the Baltic Sea Region, supra note 104, at 14每16.
107 The proposed terms of reference for the SOG were as follows: coordination and steering
of the implementation of the Baltic 21; it should consist of representatives of the participating
governments, including the EU, lead parties, as well as the relevant IGOs, NGOs and
IFIs; the presidency of the SOG should rotate between the countries and the EU, on the basis
of a two-year period; the SOG may decide its own procedure; decisions of the SOG should be
adopted by consensus; the SOG should work on an effi cient basis (to avoid duplications, gaps
in work, etc.); the SOG should ensure that the BALTIC 21 process is transparent, democratic
and participatory; the SOG should ensure that issues such as raising public awareness and
measurable goals are addressed; the SOG may establish working groups for specifi c tasks
(terms of reference of such groups will be decided by the SOG); the SOG should in principle
meet on an annual basis; the SOG should facilitate co-ordination of work and exchange of
Sustainable development 99
In 2004, the Baltic 21 Action Programme was reviewed after the fi rst fi ve
years of its work, in the light of the impending renewal of its mandate by
the Prime Ministers of the Region. Baltic 21 issued a report entitled &Five
Years of Regional Progress Towards Sustainable Development. Baltic 21
Report to the Prime Ministers of the Baltic Sea States*,108 assessing the past
achievements in the fi rst period of the existence of Baltic 21. In the intervening
years many events occurred which had a fundamental infl uence on the
progress of the implementation of sustainable development in this region.
First, Baltic 21 took into account many postulates of the World Summit
in Johannesburg.
Other developments involve: the recent enlargement of the European
Union, which means that the EU*s involvement will increase signifi cantly
and that cooperation with Russia will be enhanced; Baltic 21 increased
its cooperation with other than governments multi-stakeholders, such
as NGOs and networks; as to the sectoral implementation of sustainable
development, the next fi ve years should be focused on resource allocation
from the Sectors and increased stress on cross-sectoral initiatives which
will better address the three dimensions of sustainable development, with
the focus on fewer tasks, which &are larger, bolder, and likely to produce
tangible results that are visible in the region*.109
The period between 1998 and 2004 was characterized by a very varied
level of implementation of sustainable development in diff erent sectors: in
some areas progress was very fast and in some extremely slow. However,
&in all cases, a good foundation has at least been laid for continued eff orts
to enhance sectoral and cross-sectoral initiatives toward sustainability
goals within the region*.110
The Report assesses the fi ve-year period in the following sectors:
agriculture; education; energy; fi sheries; forestry; industry; tourism;
transport; and spatial planning. Further, the Joint Action Theme was
analysed in the following areas: Regional Forums and Networks for
Sustainable Development (&Joint Action 2*); Demonstration Areas and
information with other international organizations of relevance to the Baltic 21; the SOG
should adopt a bi-annual report on the progress of implementation of the Baltic 21 and report
to the sectoral and environmental ministers every second or third year; the SOG should adopt
a report to Prime Ministers approximately every fi fth year for consideration and for a decision
on any changes or additional action required. Those reports should include a review of the
progress of fulfi lling the set goals and the implementation of the action programme, based on
an agreed follow-up system; The SOG should decide on countries or international organizations
to become the lead parties for the Baltic 21 sectors.
108 Baltic 21 Series No. 1/2004, available online at: http://www.baltic21.org/attachments/
report_no_1_2004__5_year_report_to_prime_ministers.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
109 Ibid., at 3.
110 Ibid., at 5.
100 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Pilot Programmes (&Joint Action 3*); Cooperation among cities for
Sustainable Development (&Joint Action 4*); Sustainable Technology
Procurement (&Joint Action 5*); Information for Sustainable Development
(&Joint Action 6*); Increasing Consumer Awareness (&Joint Action 7*).
As regards agriculture, work on the Virtual Institute on Sustainable
Agriculture has been started. The Nordic Council of Ministers provided
the funding for the period 2002每2004. Poland started a similar initiative
with the Virtual Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (the &VISA*), the
participants in which come from the Baltic 21 countries. In 2003, the Sector
of Agriculture established the &Task Force Sustainable Agriculture* (the
&TFSA*). Furthermore, inter-sectoral cooperation was initiated with the
Tourism Sector. A close collaboration was established between the Global
Environmental Facility (the &GEF*) and HELCOM.
In the area of education, the National Action Plans for sustainable
education were created and several other initiatives, such as the review of
national frameworks for education, the development of a network website
and training materials; the development of a plan by a cross-sectoral training
initiative together with the Agricultural Sector were accomplished; a
project was initiated on the development of and research on education for
sustainable development; and the development of in-service teacher training.
The sector of energy has proved to be a success from the point of view of
sustainability. The increase in the percentage of energy from renewable and
natural gas and decreases in energy intensity and in key pollutants (such as
carbon dioxide) were observed. The Baltic Sea Region Energy Corporation
(the &BASREC*) is the leader in this Sector on behalf of the Baltic 21 Action
Programme. The Nordic countries, the Nordic Council of Ministers and
the Synergy Programme of the EU mainly fi nanced the introduction of sustainability
in this sector. BASREC was engaged in the following activities:
a continuing dialogue and activities with respect to the regional integration
of electricity and gas markets; cooperation in energy defi ciency; climate
change; and the task force on bioenergy. One of the main tasks of BASREC
is to develop the Baltic Sea Region to be a testing ground for the Kyoto
fl exible mechanisms. BASREC will continue its eff orts until 2005. The
fi sheries sector benefi ted from the work on the IBSFC. Due it its eff orts in
the application of the ecosystem-based approach to fi sheries management,
there is noticeable habitat restoration and wild salmon recovery in some
of the Baltic rivers. It may also be observed that the controlled catches of
pelagic fi sh at relatively high levels appear to be sustainable, and signifi cant
reductions in the Baltic Sea cod fi sheries can be noted (however, cod fi sheries
still need to be within safe biological limits). An improved aquaculture
technology may be observed. Forestry is one of the very successful sectors.
The cross-sectoral cooperation is fruitful and it resulted in the introduction
Sustainable development 101
of sustainability into private forest management; bioenergy production,
forest management and chain of custody schemes, marketing and communication
projects for wood products from sustainably managed forests,
and related research and analysis projects. Another successful sector was
industry. A task force was established which received signifi cant funding
from the Government of Sweden. Environmental Management Systems
were introduced and business cooperation throughout the Region was
initiated. The Task Force oversaw 30 projects such as environmental
permits; chemical management; green technology transfer; eco-effi ciency
best practices; business-to-business collaboration on the development of
new industries (biofuels and green product development, collaborative
research and &industrial match making* through a virtual network, the
Baltic 21 Institute). As far as tourism is concerned, a task force was established
and several conferences and meetings were organized on the subject
of sustainable tourism development, rural tourism and eco-tourism. A new
project of a network of tourism stakeholders was initiated. An agreement
was reached to establish a clearing house of the information on sustainable
tourism. A system to monitor coastal region sustainable tourism was
developed in Germany. In Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and
Sweden sustainable labelling of tourism destinations was started (Denmark:
&Destination 21*; Germany: &Viabono*; Latvia and Lithuania: &Green
Certifi cate*; Sweden: eco-label &Nature*s Best*). Sustainable transport has
also achieved certain sustainability. Environmentally oriented systems of
maritime transport are being developed. For example, the Latvian Ministry
of Transport has completed a study on progress in Short Sea Shipping (the
&SSS*). The Baltic Ports Organisation (the &BPO*) has contributed to promoting
short sea shipping through the Baltic 21 SSS survey conducted by
the Port and Maritime University of Gdansk. Germany has undertaken to
conduct a study of the implementation of Agenda 21 in European seaports
and the UBC is implementing the &New Hansa of Sustainable Port and
Cities* project. Sustainable spatial planning, which was coordinated by the
VASAB through numerous joint regional projects and planning activities,
in such varied subjects as linking ports to the hinterlands, creating a Baltic
Sea Region Coastal Integrated Management Zone (the &CZM*) Platform,
as well as capacity building on spatial planning is very successful. Most
importantly a set of principles on sustainable development in relation to
spatial planning was established.111
The Joint Action Theme also has some outstanding accomplishments.
Joint Action 1, i.e. Bioenergy and Renewable Energy, was covered exten-
111 Ibid., at 5每7.
102 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
sively by the energy sector in conjunction with other sectors. Joint Action
2, i.e. Regional Forums and Networks for Sustainable Development is based
on several formal (such as Baltic Local Agenda 21 Forum) and informal
networks (such as sustainability oriented investors and entrepreneurs)
operating throughout the region in almost all sectors. Therefore, Joint
Action works both inside and outside the Baltic 21 structure. Joint Action
3, i.e. Demonstration Areas and Pilot Programmes, is at the preparatory
stage of collecting information on already existing and planned demonstration
and pilot projects for each sector, with the specifi cation of those with
a cross- sectoral character. Joint Action 4, i.e. Cooperation among Cities for
Sustainable Development is conducted through the UBC. The network,
which is already functioning, comprises 11 specifi c cooperation projects,
which connected cities as well as international agencies and organizations,
which support the local Agenda 21 projects. Seventy-fi ve per cent of
regional cities which are members of the UBC also took part in sustainability
related meetings, seminars and conferences and projects. Joint Action 5, i.e.
Sustainable Technology Procurement: Baltic 21 acting through the Industry
Sector Task Force, fi rst analysed the main factors infl uencing sustainable
technology procurement in the Baltic Sea Region from the political,
economical and technical points of view. It identifi ed the key sustainable
technologies in the area of energy, water and transport, relevant to the local
feasibility study. The second stage will be a full feasibility study of mechanisms
to promote the procurement of sustainable technologies in the Baltic
Sea Region. Joint Action 6, i.e. Information for Sustainable Development
is based on the transparency and availability of the information. Baltic 21
issued two integrated assessments of sustainable development trends in
the Baltic Sea Region and made available on its website documentation
relevant to sustainable development in the Baltic Sea Region. The website
off ers full transparency as regards all sustainable development (including
information on partnerships and funding) related projects, with their
shortcomings and weaknesses. Joint Action 7, i.e. Increasing Consumer
Awareness is implemented through the Baltic Local Agenda 21 Forum and
comprises fi ve projects (two of them in Russia). The aim of these projects is
to raise awareness and increase involvement as regards both the local and
national level sustainability initiatives. These projects are particularly successful
in new EU Member States and also in St. Petersburg. Citizens and
civic offi cials are involved in such projects as the EU environmental policy;
local environmental planning, local participation on the decision-making
process and environmental education.112
112 Ibid., at 7.
Sustainable development 103
In 2004 at the Baltic Sea Summit of the CBSS in Estonia, Baltic 21 was
reviewed in the light of granting the new mandate. The main points of the
new mandate are as follows. First, the need for Baltic 21 to act more closely
with the CBSS is emphasized.113 Baltic 21 will adopt and act as an umbrella
for a set of high visibility new projects, encompassing as many state and
non-state participants as possible. These are the so-called &Lighthouse
Projects* in order to demonstrate sustainable development in action.
These projects will diff er from the pilot projects, as they will focus on a
few specifi c areas. Unsuccessful pilot projects in the Action Programme
should be discontinued. In the light of the above, Baltic 21 will develop a
special funding mechanism (the &Baltic 21 Fund*) to fi nance the Lighthouse
Projects as well as other regional initiatives.
Interesting and straightforward views in relation to the obstacles to
sustainable development in the Baltic Sea Region were presented at the
Heads of Delegations Meeting of HELCOM in 2004 in summing up the
Conference in Riga, Latvia, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of
the Helsinki Convention.114 The eff ort should be made to avoid overlapping,
and despite a successful multi-stakeholder approach to it in the Baltic
Sea Region, there is too much &conversation* instead of &conservation*. The
Conference also stressed a &performance gap* (a common shortcoming),
i.e. a lack of the commitment exhibited by the governments as regards
political decisions adopted by them and the diffi culties in relation to implementation
caused by the complexity of the task. One of the most important
obstacles for the implementation of sustainable development is the lack of
decisions adopted by HELCOM which are legally binding on States.
However, it must be emphasized that the Conference identifi ed many
very positive features of the Baltic sustainable development process. The
growing involvement of the CBSS and of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary
Conference (the &BSPC*) in this process and their commitment to the protection
of the environment and in the case of the BSPC its contribution to
the work of HELCOM are very important. The Conference further stressed
the importance of the cooperation of all relevant Baltic Sea Region organizations
aimed at making the Second Northern Dimension Action Plan
successful in order to stimulate sustainable economic growth and increased
welfare in Northern Europe. The Conference positively appraised the input
113 The SOG proposal specifi ed that the SOG offi cials will act as a sustainable development
think-tank for the CBSS; &A New Mandate for the Baltic. Report of the ad hoc Working
Group on Policy and Strategy II to the SOG*, available online at: http://www.baltic21.org/
Meetings/new/wgps_2/pdf/WGPS%20II%20Report%20to%20SOG-draft%203%20(03-01-
04).pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
114 http://sea.helcom.fi /dps/docs/documents/Heads%20of%20Delegation%20(HODS)/
HODS%2015%202004/2-1.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008).
104 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
of Baltic 21 to the process of sustainable development in the Region and its
closer cooperation with Russia, as well as joint projects with HELCOM,
such as tourism. International fi nancial institutions are very heavily
involved in this process and contributed in a very signifi cant manner to the
eradication of many of 20 &hot spots*. As of 1 January 2005, three Baltic
States became the owners of the Nordic Investment Bank (the &NIB*),
which is a kind of &in-house* bank for the Baltic Sea Region. Finally, it
was stressed that NGOs are very active and valuable in the process of sustainable
development in the Region. It was particularly stressed that the
WWF had launched a &Baltic Ecoregion Programme*, based on thorough
biodiversity and socio-economic assessments.
As may be seen from the above, all the documents regarding sustainable
development in the Baltic Sea Area context presented a fairly detailed set
of plans and programmes for its environmental protection and economic
development, not full of empty slogans but off ering concrete methods of
achieving certain targets, which will lead to sustainability. It is notable,
however, that they refer very infrequently to any of the elements of sustainable
development, as listed in the Rio Declaration: intergenerational
equity; common but diff erentiated responsibilities, the precautionary principle,
etc. This indicates, in the view of the present author, that a certain
evolution in the practical understanding of the concept of sustainable
development has taken place (at least as regards the Baltic Sea region),
i.e. it is focused on concrete tasks. It may also mean, however, that any
plan and programme regarding the environment and development may be
labelled &sustainable development*. This may lead to so many variations of
the concept that eventually it loses any distinct meaning at all. It may be
added, however, that the 2007 Baltic Action Plan, which is based on the
ecosystem approach, does not specifi cally rely on the concept of sustainable
development, which may indicate a certain change from overarching
practice to include in all initiatives this concept in order to give them more
prominence.
IV. CONCLUSIONS
The theoretical nature of the concept of sustainable development is as
elusive and vague at present as it was at its inception. As Marie-Claire
Cordonier Segger and C.G. Weermantry surmise:
This vagueness may well have been deliberate, in order to ensure its acceptability
to many diff erent local and global perspectives, from many cultures and
regions. However, the lack of conceptual clarity, coupled with obstacles from
Sustainable development 105
many powerful economic interests groups, has made quite diffi cult to implement
sustainable development in international policy and especially, in binding
international law. The time has come to seek greater clarity . . . Clarity is now
urgently needed. Clarity is needed to help to avoid or resolve bewildering confl
icts and overlap between economic, environmental and social treaties. Clarity
is needed to make implementation of international law possible, in many treaties
and regimes that set sustainable development as an object or purpose. And
clarity is needed to provide judiciaries, in domestic courts and international
tribunals, with guidance to resolve disputes in the area.115
It appears that the clarity of the concept has not been achieved. Its
content is vague and some of its components are equally ill-defi ned.
The importance of the element of environmental protection in the core
principle of integration has diminished, and primary importance was
accorded to economic development. Therefore, many of the Principles of
the 1992 Rio Declaration as regards sustainable development remain aspirational
and the concept of sustainable development, as it was conceived
by the Brundtland Commission, has certainly changed (although it has not
been noticed or acknowledged in literature on the subject). The lofty components
of this concept have no or little practical importance and cannot
serve as guidelines for the implementation of this concept for, e.g., industry.
As appears from the above examples of the application of sustainable
development at the Baltic Sea regional level, it is based on a managerial
approach, which has nothing in common with the elements of sustainable
development commonly acknowledged in literature and listed in the Rio
Declaration. At least as regards its implementation in the Baltic Sea Area,
it acquired the character of a chapeau, by which all issues regarding the
management, development and environmental protection of the area are
covered. To a lesser degree, an example of the application of this principle
in the IMO appears to indicate that there is a certain change towards a
more concrete approach, although in a rather general and unstructured
manner.
As demonstrated above, the concept of sustainable development has
been the subject of lengthy and often inconclusive debates. However, the
example of its application within the Baltic Sea area clearly indicates that
practical reliance on this concept has nothing or very little in common
115 M.-C. Cordonier Segger and C.G. Weermantry, &Introduction to Suitable
Development: Implementing International Sustainable Development Law*, in M.-C.
Cordonier Segger and C.G. Weermantry (eds), Sustainable Justice: Reconciling Economic,
Social and Environmental Law (2005) 1, at 3. See also B. Simma, &Foreword*, in N. Schrijver
and F. Weiss, International Law and Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice v, at
vi (2004), who is of the view that it was perhaps &the very lack of conceptual rigor which
permitted the entire world to embrace it*.
106 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
with a general theoretical discussion. The attempts made within the IMO
to refer to this concept in more abstract terms, in the view of the present
author, did not give rise to any tangible results and amounted to no more
than lip service to sustainable development. The concrete application ,of
this concept within the Baltic Sea region indicates perhaps the right way to
approach the study of sustainable development and the need to analyse it
on a case-by-case basis. It appears that future and continuing discussions
of the theoretical background of sustainable development will not be fruitful
and will remain largely inconclusive.
The Baltic Sea sustainable development programme drawn up in
Agenda 21 may serve as a blueprint for other regional seas. This programme
deals with all the pertinent issues relating to the successful application
of sustainable development in the area. Within the general, political
framework of democratic governance, Agenda 21 adopted a sectoralspecifi
c approach, which set the goals for particular areas of industry and
economy. It also accorded a very prominent place to education and succeeded
in bringing together all stakeholders, States, Non-Governmental
Organisations and civil society. The programme also secured the participation
of fi nancial institutions in order to ensure the implementation
of Agenda 21, and in doing so put special focus on the development of
public每private partnerships.
Mechanical listing of the elements of sustainable development which
are based on the 1987 much-used Brundlandt*s defi nition neither furthers
the understanding of the concept nor shows its practical working in contemporary
world. However, many current publications are still focused on
this clich谷d defi nition, which had currency in 1987, but nowadays requires
a more detailed approach. Such an approach would provide certain guidance
for States and civil society on how to apply this concept at both
international and national levels. Very general references to sustainable
development in the jurisprudence of international courts and tribunals are
of no signifi cant importance to its further understanding. The mention of
this concept in the 1997 Gabcikovo-Nagymaros case by the International
Court of Justice, although laudable, did not contribute to its further evolution.
Attempts by the Court to couch this concept in more detailed terms
in the Order relating to the Pulp Mills case were still rather general and did
not bring any new dimensions into this notion. The references to &shared
natural resources* and the necessity of the securing of the &livelihood* of
people are phrases which are not novel.
The Arbitral Tribunal in the 2005 Iron Rhine case relied on the
1997 Gabcikovo-Nagymaros case, thereby focusing on generalities of the
concept. However, as was mentioned, at least it made an original attempt
to link this concept with the question of signifi cant harm, as an element
Sustainable development 107
restricting sustainable development. As a general trend, however, it may
be observed that thus far international jurisprudence contributed very
insignifi cantly to the development of this concept and referred to it only in
very general terms.
The aims, functions and the institutional structure of sustainable
development have to be individually tailored to specifi c needs and
characteristics of each relevant activity and each geographical region, as
exemplifi ed by the Baltic Sea cooperation. Such cooperation aimed at the
furthering and practical application of sustainable development is one
of many examples which can also be found in other international areas,
as e.g. in relation to cooperation concerning international watercourses.
Water cooperation established within the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) sets very well defi ned and precise aims which do not
rely on general terms which would be of little or no use in any specifi c
situation, based on the 2000 (Revised) Protocol.116 First of all the 2000
Protocol constitutes part and parcel of a greater institutional structure
i.e. the Regional Strategic Action Plan (&RSAP*), through which it was
implemented and was integrated into the overall objectives of SADC, and
also is connected with other programmes of the region concerning food,
agriculture and natural resources. Only in its Preamble does the Protocol
refer in general terms to sustainable development.117 This is followed by
a very specifi c, concrete plan, the structure of which resembles to a great
degree the approach adopted for the Baltic Sea Area. In order to achieve
the aim of sustainable development, the Protocol set the list of very
116 The fi rst Protocol was established in 1995. The 2000 Protocol entered into force in
2003 and covers 14 countries members of the Southern African Development Community:
Angola, Botswana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kingdom of Lesotho, Malawi,
Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia
and Zimbabwe. The text of the Protocol is available online at: http://www.sadc.int/english/
documents/legal/protocols/shared_watercourse_revised.php.
117 It refers to the concepts of sustainable development, sustainable utilisation of
shared resources and environmentally sound management, as refl ected by Agenda 21. It
relies on three pillars of sustainable development, as it reads as follows: &[c]onvinced of
the need for co-ordinated and environmentally sound development of the resources of
shared watercourses in the SADC Region in order to support sustainable socio-economic
development* (Preamble). Art. 1 para 1 (i) explains that &management of a shared watercourse
means planning the sustainable development of shared watercourse and providing
for the implementation of any plans adopted; and (ii) otherwise promoting the rational,
equitable and optimal utilisation, protection and control of the watercourse*. The main
objective of the Protocol outlined in Art. 2 is undoubtedly the expression of the concept of
sustainable development: &[t]he overall objective of this Protocol is to foster closer cooperation
to judicious, sustainable and co-ordinated management, protection and utilisation of
shared watercourses and advance the SADC agenda of regional integration and poverty
alleviation*.
108 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
detailed and concrete objectives118 which were translated into tangible
projects, such as ADC Shared Watercourses Support Project for Buzi
(Mozambique/Zimbabwe), Ruvuma and Save River Basins (Tanzania/
Mozambique) on the basis of the Revised Protocol.119 The project covers
the three river basins and addresses three areas identifi ed in SADC*s
Regional Strategic Action Plan for Integrated Water Management and
Development (RSAP-IWRMD): surface waters assessment/ management;
groundwater assessment/ management; and capacity building. The RSAP/
IWRMD is an integral part of the Revised Protocol. Therefore, it can
be said that the Protocol provides an adequate legal structure enabling
the realization of the concept of sustainable development, which in
fact is the main objective of this instrument. The RSAP is included in
the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP),
which is a blueprint for regional integration and cooperation. The goal
of the Project is the fostering of sustainable development by way of the
development of integrated water resources management and related
physical infrastructure development, which further regional integration
and poverty reduction. The Project objective is to ensure a sustainable
framework for the integrated planning and management of shared water
resources in the three rivers basins and to support the livelihoods of the
local communities.
The continuing reliance on clich谷d and worn out defi nitions should
be abandoned and the concept (or principle) of sustainable development
must acquire a tangible and concrete content, as in the cases of the Baltic
118 &(a) promote and facilitate the establishment of shared watercourse agreements and
Shared Watercourse Institutions for the management of shared watercourse; (b) advance
the sustainable, equitable and reasonable utilisation of the shared watercourses; (c) promote
a co-ordinated and integrated environmentally sound development and management of
shared watercourses; (d) promote the harmonisation and monitoring of legislation and
policies for planning, development, conservation, protection of shared watercourses, and
allocation of the recourses thereof; and (e) promote research and technology development,
information exchange, capacity building, and the application of appropriate technologies is
shared watercourses management*. Art. 3 (General Principles), para. 4 states explicitly that
&State Parties shall maintain a proper balance between resource development for a higher
standard of living for their people and conservation and enhancement of the environment
to promote sustainable development*. Like the 1997 Convention, the SADC Protocol is
based on the principle of sustainable and reasonable utilization. However, interestingly,
the Protocol integrated the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization with that of
the protection of the riparian environment, which is a new and very important development,
as it combines elements of watercourse management which were considered to be
incompatible.
119 See e.g. Multinational SADC Shared Watercourses Support Project for Buzi, Save
and Ruvuma River Basins, test available online at: http://www.afdb.org/pls/portal/docs/
PAGE/ADB_ADMIN_PG/DOCUMENTS/OPERATIONSINFORMATION/SADC%20
WATER%20ENG%2025%2001%202006.PDF.
Sustainable development 109
Sea and the SADC cooperation. Otherwise this concept will continue to
deserve appraisals such as the following:
Sustainable development is political fudge: a convenient form of words,
prompted, though not invented, by the Brundtland Commission, which is suffi
ciently vague to allow confl icting parties, factions and interest to adhere to it
without losing credibility. It is an expression of political correctness which seeks
to bridge the unbridgeable divide between the anthropocentric and biocentric
approaches to politics . . . It is a sham. Sustainable development, with its anthropocentric
underpinning and inherent contradictions, must go.120
The role of international law in furthering the aims of sustainable development
must be strengthened in providing a &concrete regulatory framework
for co-operation between an action by all relevant actors, and the monitoring
thereof*.121
120 D. Richardson, &The Politics of Sustainable Development*, in S. Baker et al. (eds), The
Politics of Sustainable Development: Theory and Practice within the European Union (1997)
43, at 43, 57 and 58.
121 Schrijver, supra note 1, at 385每386.
110
3. Intergenerational equity: a
reappraisal
I. THE THEORY OF INTERGENERATIONAL
EQUITY 每 INTRODUCTION
There are very few topics of international law and environmental law
which have given rise to such an invigorating discussion and division of
views as the concept of intergenerational equity. It may be said as well that
the relationship between generations has been a fertile ground for philosophical
debate.1 It must be observed from the outset that the question
of environmental protection and intergenerational trusts was analysed in
depth by Professor Redgwell in her seminal book.2
1 See J. Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971) (hereinafter Rawls I); J. Rawls, A Theory
of Justice (revised edn, 1999) (hereinafter Rawls II); J. Rawls, Political Liberalism (1996)
(hereinafter Rawls III); B. Barry, &Justice Between Generations*, in P.M.S. Hacker and
J. Raz (eds), Law, Morality and Society: Essays in Honour of H.L.A Hart (1979) 268, at
268每84 (hereinafter Barry I); B. Barry, Theories of Justice 每 A Treatise on Social Justice
(1989) (hereinafter Barry II). The philosophical theories relating to relationships between
generations were the subject of a seminar on this subject organised by Loyola Law School,
Los Angeles, California. The seminar was mainly devoted to philosophical issues relating
to intergenerational equity. The essays were published in 35 Loyola Los Angeles Law
Review (2001每2): L.B. Solum, &To Our Children*s Children*s Children: The Problems of
Intergenerational Ethics*, 35 Loyola Los Angeles Law Review 163, at 163-322 (2001/2002);
A.P. Grosseries, &Do we Owe to The Next Generation (s)*, 35 Loyola Los Angeles Law Review
293, at 293每355 (2001/2002); C. Bazelon and K. Smetters, &Discounting in the Long Term*, 35
Loyola Los Angeles Law Review 277, at 277-291 (2001/2002); Th. P. Seto, &Intergenerational
Decision-Making: An Evolutionary Perspective*, 35 Loyola Los Angeles Law Review 235,
at 235每276 (2001/2002). See also B.M. Fischmann, &Some Thoughts on Shortsightedness
and International Equity*, 36 Loyola University Chicago Law Journal (2005) 457, at 457每67;
W. Beckerman and J. Pasek, Justice, Posterity, and the Environment (2001); J.C. Tremmel
(ed.), Handbook of Intergenerational Justice (2006), in particular the following chapters:
D. Birnbacher, &Responsibility for Future Generations-Scope and Limits* at 21, 21每39; C.
Lumer, &Principles of Generational Justice*, at 39, 39每53; C. Dierksmeier, &John Rawls on the
Rights of Future Generations* at 72, 72每86; M. Wallack, &Justice between Generations: The
Limits of Procedural Justice* at 86, 86每106; W. Beckerman, &The Impossibility of a Theory
of Intergenerational Justice* at 53, 53每72. See also L.M. Collins, &Revisiting the Doctrine of
Intergenerational Equity in Global Environmental Governance*, 30 Dalhousie Law Journal
(2007) 79, at 79每141.
2 C. Redgwell, Intergenerational Trusts and Environmental Protection (1999). She also
presents a critical analysis of the theory of Professor Brown Weiss.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 111
However, there have been certain recent developments in national law
which merit new research, such as the establishment of the Commission
for Future Generations in Israel. This chapter also analyses the littleknown
legal settlement of the claims which arose from the Nuclear Testing
Programme conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands. These
claims resulted in the establishment of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which
tackles the intergenerational aspect of law, since it takes into account unborn
generation when judging cases.
The fate of future generations as well as the notion of keeping our planet in
trust for future generations are not new ideas. Many international environmental
agreements, drafted many years ago,3 as well as soft-law documents,
include, at least in the Preamble, the invocation of future generations.4
The concept of trust as applied to natural resources in relation to future
3 See, e.g., 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, 161 UNTS 72:
&The Governments . . . Recognising the interest of the nations of the world in safeguarding for
future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks . . .*.
4 See, e.g., the 1979 Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild
Animals, 19 ILM (1980) 15:
&The Contracting Parties . . . Aware that each generation of man holds the resources of the
earth for future generations and has an obligation to ensure that this legacy is conserved
and, where utilised, is used wisely . . .;*
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, 12
ILM (1973) 1085:
&Recognising that wild fauna and fl ora in their many beautiful and varied forms are an
irreplaceable part of the natural system of the earth which must be protected for this and
the generations to come . . .;*
The 1979 Berne Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals,
19 ILM (1980) 15:
&Recognising that wild fauna and fl ora constitute a natural heritage of aesthetic, scientifi c,
cultural, recreational, economic and intrinsic value that needs to be preserved and handed
to future generations . . .*;
Principle 2 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment, 11 ILM (1972)
1416:
&The natural resources of the earth including the air, water, land, fl ora and fauna and especially
representative samples of natural ecosystems must be safeguarded for the benefi t of
present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate;*
The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Principle 3, 31 ILM (1992)
874:
&The right to development must be fulfi lled so as to equitably meet developmental and
environmental needs of present and future generations*.
112 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
generations was pleaded in the 1893 Pacifi c Fur Seal Arbitration5 over
alleged over-exploitation by Great Britain of fur seals beyond the limits of
national jurisdiction. This arbitration concerned many very diffi cult legal
questions relating, inter alia, to the right of a State (in this case the right of
the United States) to regulate the protection of seals beyond the three-mile
limit. The Arbitral Tribunal rejected such an assumption; however, it
adopted a regulation which included measures to manage fur seals outside
such a limit. The US put forward an interesting argument that protection of
fur seals outside the three-mile limit was justifi ed according to &established
principles of the common and civil law, upon practice of nations, upon the
laws of natural history, and upon the common interest of mankind*.6
Moreover, it argued that property rights were not unlimited, as nations &are
not made the absolute owners; their title is coupled with a trust for the benefi t
of mankind. The human race is entitled to participate in enjoyment.*7 The
US put forward a very modern concept of &the common property of mankind*
which, if a State withdraws it, results in the State losing the trust of other
States, and which gives the right &to interfere and secure their share*.8
II. THE PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS OF THE THEORY
OF PROFESSOR BROWN WEISS
The relationship between generations is a subject of intergenerational
ethics.9 Such ethics, which are very diffi cult in moral and political philosophy,
are of paramount importance to, for instance, environmental policy,
health policy, intellectual property law, social security policy and telecommunications
policy. Concrete examples of the application of intergenerational
ethics can be found, as Solum notes, in the following areas: care and
feeding; nursing the elderly; social security; legacies and bequests; entailed
estates, as well as in relation to environmental problems: disastrous global
warming and persistent plutonium; reparation for slavery; economic
development; and fi nally population policy. There are of course diff erences
between these examples of intergenerational ethics. For example, as Solum
explains in relation to global warming:
5 Pacifi c Fur Seal Arbitration (United States of America v. Great Britain), 1 Moore*s
International Arbitral Awards (1893) 733.
6 Ibid., at 811.
7 Ibid., at 853.
8 Ibid.
9 See Solum, supra note 2. Professor Fitzmaurice will present in this book the views of
Professor Solum, who explained intergenerational ethics context in relation to, inter alia,
environmental law.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 113
The progress of science has, ironically, created an awareness of risks to future
generations that may easily be reduced to calculable probabilities of quantifi able
harms. Global warming might be such a case. Assume . . . that consumption of
greenhouse gases by current generations poses an unquantifi able risk of global
environmental catastrophe for our children*s children (where the phrase is taken
to mean our descendents who will be alive at the time when we are all dead).
What duty do we owe them? How much of our welfare ought to be sacrifi ced
for nonquantifi able chance of an improvement in theirs?10
However, according to Solum, unlike global warming, persistent plutonium
involves calculable risks and quantifi able consequences.11 There
are many concepts and defi nitions of intergenerational and generational
justice in intergenerational ethics. Solum distinguishes between political
and personal morality and analyses the notion of justice. Intergenerational
justice is based on the notion of a generation, which, as this author admits,
is in popular knowledge &muddled*.12 However, out of many possible
defi nitions, Solum distinguishes and analyses three: demographic cohort
generations; lineal descent generations; and unborn future generations. It
appears that this last notion of a generation is the one which was adopted
by Brown Weiss in her theory of intergenerational equity. Solum, however,
notes the lack of clarity of this term, which may refer to people who will
exist in the future but are as yet unborn; or to those who will not be born
during the life of the speaker or possibly the life of any a person who is currently
alive. It is not quite clear which type of unborn generations Brown
Weiss refers to. It appears, however, that she approaches future generations
as one general group whose place in time is not defi ned:
In this partnership, no generation knows beforehand when it will be the living
generation, how many members it will have, or even how many generations
there will ultimately be. If we take the perspective of a generation that is placed
somewhere along the spectrum of time but does not know in advance where it
will be located, such a generation would want to inherit the Earth in at least
as good condition as it has been in for any previous generation and to have
as good access to it as previous generations. This requires each generation to
pass the planet on in no worse condition than it received it in and to provide
equitable access to its resources and benefi ts. Each generation is thus both a
trustee for the planet with obligations to care for it and a benefi ciary with rights
to use it.13
10 Solum, supra note 2, at 167.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid., at 169.
13 E. Brown Weiss, &Intergenerational Equity: A Legal Framework for Global
Environmental Change*, in E. Brown Weiss (ed.), Environmental Change and International
Law: New Challenges and Dimensions (1992) 385, at 397.
114 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Solum also notes that, since the defi nition of a generation is ambiguous,
the term &intergenerational* is also quite vague. Intergenerational ethics
also involve certain duties directed towards generations. This package of
duties between generations was conceptualized by Brown Weiss in a notion
of a partnership between generations which translated itself into the form
of trust. In intergenerational ethics these duties may involve backwardlooking
duties, which are contemporaneous (social security 每 the duty of
the younger working generation to fi nance social benefi ts for the elderly);
and non-contemporaneous (reparations 每 the duty of a present generation
to compensate a deceased former generation for an injury done to it); and
forward-looking duties, which are contemporaneous (care and feeding 每
the duty of parents to care for their children) and non-contemporaneous
(persistent plutonium 每 the obligation of the present generation not to
cause pollution that will injure unborn future generations).14 Inter- and
intra-generational morality is frequently referred to as an issue of &intergenerational
justice* or &intergenerational equity* or, as in case of lawyers
or economists (for example Brown Weiss), equity is used as a synonym
for justice.15 Justice can be corrective or distributive.16 This is no place to
discuss all theories concerning distributive justice. The focus of the analysis
in this chapter will be on the theory of distributive justice, as embodied by
Rawls, and which forms the philosophical background of the Brown Weiss
doctrine. Very broadly speaking, his theory is based on a concept of justice
as fairness and of sharing the benefi ts and burdens in society.
Rawls addressed social inequalities in society, the perception of which
depends on individual characteristics and place in society, so that they
are biased.17 Rawls aimed at discarding these preconceived biases. What
would be a concept of a &just society* if people were deprived of their class
status, political beliefs, health, religion; in other words if they operated
from behind the &veil of ignorance*.18
His idea was to divorce decision-makers from the sense of their identity,
which would involve them being totally ignorant as to their fi nal position,
capabilities, etc., in short they would fi nd themselves in an &original
position*. This would enable them to understand justice and equality in a
14 Solum, supra note 2, at 173.
15 Ibid.
16 Solum is of the view that intergenerational justice might involve both corrective and
distributive justice. As an example of the fi rst, he returns to the case of a hazardous persistent
plutonium power plant, which was erected by one generation. The issue whether the polluting
generations owe duties to unborn future generations is a question of corrective justice (the
obligation to create a trust fund): Solum, supra note 2, at 175.
17 Rawls, supra note 2, at 15每19.
18 Ibid., at 136每42.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 115
diff erent light from that derived from a formal equality approach.19 Rawls
introduced the so-called &diff erence principle* which, broadly speaking, is
based on a premise that individuals behind the &veil of ignorance* would
fi nd a fair and equal society if the assignment of benefi ts would result in
just distribution and the eradication of economic inequities, in particular
in relation to the least advantaged members of society. The fi nal purpose
of equal economic distribution is to make everybody better off .20
Rawls* theory was originally applied in the context of a State, relating
to individuals in a single society. However, it had been observed that
this theory can be also useful in an inter-state application, although not
without certain diffi culties, as analysed by Drumbl in his excellent essay.21
Some of these shortcomings are, according to Drumbl, related to the
fundamentally procedural nature of the Rawlsian theory. As he explains,
environmental justice is concerned with just outcomes, which are based
on economic inequality. Therefore, Drumbl suggests that the transformation
of the Rawlsian theory onto an international level in environmental
matters could be achieved by &melding Rawlsian approaches to economic
justice with environmental regulation* by which &developing nations may
have eff ected a particularly important paradigm shift in international relations
and foreign policy*.22 The human conduct, as a means of the deliberate
amending of inequalities, may be a solution to not entirely relying on
the &luck* of being born in a rich country, as was professed by Barry.23
Social justice as an underlying principle of Brown Weiss* theory,
however, had an intertemporal dimension, which in fact was also raised by
Rawls. In his theory, this element appeared after a person assumed the &veil
of ignorance* (i.e. discarded all prejudices). Not only did Rawls include the
time element, but the time element stretched also between the generations.
Intergenerational justice, like Brown Weiss* concept, was based on the
&just savings principle*, according to which each and every generation has
to preserve the heritage of previous generations and put aside a suitable
amount of capital. As Drumbl rightly observes, generational justice can be
applied to the environment. He writes:
19 Ibid., at 14每15.
20 Ibid., at 61 and 83.
21 M. Drumbl, &Poverty, Wealth, and Obligation in International Environmental Law*,
76 Tulane Law Review (2002) 843, at 903每905.
22 Ibid., at 902每4. Drumbl in his excellent essay introduces a theory of a social compact in
which responsibilities between the &colonizers of the North* and the &colonised of the South*
are corrected by the North.
23 Barry II, supra note 2, at 129. See also Barry*s theory of the &extreme risk aversion*: B.
Barry, &John Rawls and the Search for Stability*, 105 Ethics (1995/IV) 874, at 882 (hereinafter
Barry III).
116 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
If people in the &original position* did not know what generation they would
be born into, then persons would take better care of the environment if there
were a risk that they could be born into a generation whose predecessors had
desecrated the environment or emptied it of its resources. International environmental
lawyers have gone one step further and have applied intergenerational
justice as a rationale for global environmental governance. For example,
Edith Brown-Weiss writes that intergenerational justice encompasses the duties
we owe future generations to maintain a natural environment capable of
sustaining life and civilisation at least to the same standard of living enjoyed
today.24
The just savings principle is relevant to economic development, but it may
also be applicable to other areas of relations between generations.25 As
Solum explains, if the state of the environment can be viewed as a capital
resource, then intergenerational pollution may be limited by the just
savings principle and:
policy choices about persistent plutonium and global warming might be constrained
by the just savings principle, although the constraint might be fairly
loose. Degrading the environments of future generations would be consistent
with the just savings principle so long as the total bundle of primary goods
passed to future generations was adequate.
The philosophical foundations of the Brown Weiss* theory were also
the subject of certain criticism which mainly derived from two sources: the
critique of the theory of Rawls itself and her adaptation of his theory to
fi t intergenerational equity.26 As was noted above, the problem of intergenerational
justice according to Rawls is centred on his theory of original
position and the veil of ignorance. According to Rawls, intragenerational
and intergenerational justice are based on a contractarian approach (much
criticized), which is founded on a presumption that rational people in a
hypothetical original position, stripped of their individual preferences and
under the veil of ignorance, would agree to the principles of justice.
People in the original position have knowledge only of the conditions of
human society, which is by his defi nition a &cooperative venture for mutual
advantage*.27
Rawls*s social contract theory is very much limited to the relationship
between physically existing people,28 therefore contacts between people
24 Drumbl, supra note 22, at 919每20.
25 Solum, supra note 2, at 184.
26 See the in-depth analysis of these issues by Redgwell, supra, note 2, at 100每109.
27 Rawls II, supra note 2, at 4.
28 Ibid., at 15.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 117
and animals are outside this relationship.29 The lack of injured parties,
i.e. future generations, makes the application of Rawls*s theory between
generations very problematic.30 Present people may not want to limit their
expenditure and consumption in favour of non-present individuals, as it
may not be in their interest.31
Motivated assumption is an answer to justice between generations,
as in the real world the principles of justice should be capable of being
presented as mutually advantageous. Rawls analysed the possibility (and
the diffi culties) of the extension of certain principles of justice within
one generation (intragenerational justice) to justice between generations
(intergenerational justice). Intragenerational justice is based, according
to Rawls, on two principles: the fundamental principle of justice, granting
basic liberties, and the second, which provides for the distribution of
social goods. The second principle favours the least advantaged, and thus
allows for inequities in a society (the so-called diff erence principle). This
principle was later reformulated by the creation of the so-called &savings
principle* &[s]ocial and economic inequalities are to be arranged so they are
. . . to the greatest benefi t of the least advantaged, consistent with a just
savings principle*.32 The relationship between the &diff erence principle* and
the &savings principle* is not quite clear; however, according to Rawls the
savings principle to a certain degree constraints the diff erence principle.33
Rawls explained that the diff erence principle is inapplicable to diff erent
generations over time. Therefore, in order to modify this principle, he
places behind the veil of ignorance the members of past, present and future
generations. Without the device of the veil of ignorance, past generations
would not approve of ameliorating the fate of future generations, as they
would not benefi t from any savings made in the present.34 However, if past
generations are placed behind the veil of ignorance, they do not know to
what generation they belong.
However, according to Dierksmeier this solution does not necessarily
lead to an expected result. He argues:
As long as the deliberating individuals know themselves to be contemporaries
每 which is imperative for them to deal eff ectively with every other aspect of
their political lives 每 another problem remains. Pondering that, whatever their
historic starting position, future . . . generations cannot negatively aff ect them,
29 Ibid., at 261.
30 See comments on this in Barry I, supra note 2, at 190每91.
31 Dierksmeier, supra note 2, at 74.
32 Rawls I, supra note 2, at 257.
33 Ibid., at 257.
34 Ibid.
118 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
they could come to the conclusion to not save at all, and so maximise their
interest.35
In order to overcome this hurdle, there were certain ideas based
on the principle of &endlessly overlapping generations to each and
every future generation so that the abstract interests of future generations
would be cared for by ever-concrete interest of the contiguous
generations*.36
Rawls put forward several theories which were aimed at overcoming the
exclusively generational aspect of intergenerational justice, such as &the
caring parents approach*, treating decision-makers as &heads of families*,
having an emotional interest in &immediate descendants*.37 However,
this approach was abandoned in favour of his initial idea of the original
position in which all generations were represented.38 Rawls* later writings
adjust intergenerational theory to his views expressed in Political
Liberalism and elaborated in Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.39 The
question of savings, according to Rawls, as elaborated in 2001, &must be
dealt with by constraints that hold between citizens as contemporaries*
and that &the correct principle, then, is one of the members of any generation
(and so all generations) would adopt as the principle they would want
preceding generations to have followed*.40 However, this rule does not
convince all scholars who argue that:
. . . any one rational maximiser would willingly impose upon himself restrictions
that de facto make it impossible that he pursue his self-interest most effi ciently?
The savings of former days are his, no matter how he will decide regarding the
interests of posterity. So, why reduce his welfare without a payback arrangement?
Only actors already morally motivated will agree to such a limitation of
their consumer wants.41
The critical analysis of Rawls* theory by Dierksmeier leads to the conclusion
that &any good theory of intergenerational equity cannot exclusively
be explained by rational choice theory and sheer human self-interest. In
contrast, a moral-based explanation is essential to justify generational
35 Dierksmeier, supra note 2, at 75.
36 Ibid.
37 Rawls I, supra note 2, at 256.
38 Ibid.
39 J. Rawls, Political Liberalism (1993) (hereinafter Rawls IV); J. Rawls, Justice as
Fairness: A Restatement (2001) (hereinafter Rawls V).
40 Rawls V, supra note 39, at 160.
41 Dierksmeier, supra note 2, citing B. Dauenhauer, &Response to Rawls* in R. Cohen et
al. (eds), Ricoeur as Another: The Ethics of Subjectivity (2002) 203, at 208.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 119
justice*.42 In order to overcome the diffi culties of the concept of intergenerational
justice, Brian Barry limits his theory by excluding past generations.
43 He based intergenerational justice on the premise of &fundamental
equality of human beings* which applies to contemporaries and intergenerational
justice.44 Barry also explained that only two of his four fundamental
principles of justice apply in the context of intergenerational justice:
the principle of responsibility and of &vital interests*.45 Barry addressed the
question of renewable resources from the intergenerational perspective and
came up with the idea in relation to renewable resources that later generations
should not be left worse off in terms of productive capacity than &they
would have been without the depletion*.46 Barry took into consideration
growing costs which have to be borne by future generations in order to
extract natural resources which were depleted by previous generations.
These costs result in the need to establish to what extent non-renewable
natural resources may be depleted by present generations without breaching
the requirements of intergenerational justice. Present generations
should limit their depleting of natural non-renewable resources in order
not to worsen the opportunities available to future generations.
The application of the responsibility principle in particular Barry*s idea
of egalitarism, was critically analysed by Beckerman. Beckerman argues
that Barry*s concept of egalitarism:
would go so far as to say that it would be &unjust* to take something away from
any group in any society, however well off , in order to improve the welfare of
some other contemporary group, however badly off . To adopt such a position
would mean opposing any egalitarian policy involving a redistribution from
42 J.C. Tremmel, &Introduction*, in J.C. Tremmel (ed.), Handbook of Intergenerational
Justice (2006) 1, at 10, supra note 2.
43 B. Barry, &Sustainability and Intergenerational Justice*, in A. Dobson (ed.), Fairness
and Futurity: Essays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice (1999) 93, at 107. He
writes as follows:
&. . . it must be conceded that the expression ※intergenerational justice§ is potentially misleading
. . . It is simply a sort of shorthand for ※justice between the present generation and
future generations§. Because of time*s arrow, we cannot do anything to make people in
the past better off that they actually were, so it is absurd to say that our relation to them
could be either just or unjust.*
However, Barry*s theory of justice is broader from Humean*s perspective by rejecting
his &rough equality of power*, as such an approach would exclude, for example, unjust
treaties.
44 Ibid., at 96.
45 Ibid., at 98.
46 B. Barry, &The Ethics of Resource Depletion*, in B. Barry (ed.), Democracy, Power and
Justice (1989) 511, at 519.
120 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
richer to poorer. But it may sometimes be just to make some group in society
worse off against their will in the interests of helping people who are worse off ,
why would it always be unjust to follow policies that might conceivably make
future generations worse off even if it is in order to avoid imposing certain
burden on some of the people today?47
Scholars who in principle support the generational justice approach to
environmental law admit, however, as is seen from the above discussion,
that it is not without certain theoretical diffi culties, as was explored by
Edward Page in relation to climate change.48 One such diffi culty is of course
the aforementioned problem of reciprocity (contractarian approach). Page
observes that:
if reciprocity determines the scope of justice, as writers such as Rawls and
Gauthier believe, there seems to be no room for future persons having claims
to resources from their ancestors 每 they get what they inherit, and should count
themselves lucky to get it!49
The inherent problems with the justice approach to generations is that it
requires, according to the same author, its revision as regards both sceptics
and enthusiasts.50
The most fundamental question regarding intergenerational justice is
the issue of the rights of future generations, their very existence and their
scope. First, the most fundamental issue is what are the rights which future
generations may enjoy: moral rights or written rights? It appears that there
is no unambiguous answer to this question. The majority appears to adhere
to the view that they are moral, not written, rights. However this issue
becomes more complicated in the case of the rights of future generations
enshrined in many constitutions, i.e. are they still moral rights, or legal
rights or perhaps both moral rights and legal rights? Tremmel is of the
view that in democratic States most legal norms are also moral norms.51
Further, if we accept that future generations have rights, a new question
47 Beckerman/Pasek, supra note 2, at 43 (emphasis added).
48 E.P. Page, Climate Change, Justice and Future Generations (2006).
49 Ibid., at 105.
50 &A small, but signifi cant, measure of intergenerational equity is a direct challenge to
sceptical views that downgrade the ethical status of future persons because they are viewed as
being unable to reciprocate ongoing attempts to mitigate global climate change. But it also
suggests that the current focus of enthusiasts on subject-centred principles of justice should
be widened to make space for other, less fashionable, principles, such as fair reciprocity*:
ibid., at 129.
51 See in depth J.C. Tremmel, &Establishing Intergenerational Justice in National
Constitutions*, in Tremmel (ed.), supra note 2, at 187, 187每212.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 121
arises: what is the defi nition of these rights and obligations and who decides
on defi nition?52
Beckerman and Pasek are one of the fi ercest critics of the theory of
rights of future (unborn) generations. They are against the symmetrical
concept of rights and obligations, and is of the view that obligations do
not always create rights, whilst rights always create obligations. In many
of Beckerman*s publications, he expressed the strong view that future
generations cannot have rights. However, we should accord them &moral
standing* and take account of their interests:
Thus, we have moral obligations to take account of the interests of future generations
in our policies, including those policies that aff ect the environment . . .
[t]he rights if future generations cannot be protected within the framework of
any theory of international justice.53
His negation of the rights approach to future generations is based on
semantics, as his general argument that future generations cannot have
anything, including rights, follows from the meaning of the present tense of
the verb &to have*. He emphasized many times in his writings that &unborn
people simply cannot have anything. They cannot have two legs or long
hair or a taste for Mozart.*54 Tremmel did not agree with his argument
and, although he conceded that Beckerman*s argument was correct, it
was nevertheless of minor importance and its purpose was to replace the
present tense with the future tense (&future generations will have rights*).55
Beckerman argues that if future generations cannot have rights, they
equally cannot have &interests*, &needs*, &wishes*, etc. He states:
If we want to favour the term &interests* over &rights*, we must fi nd other arguments.
The hint to using the future tense instead of present tense in wording of
constitutional amendments is just a minor aspect. It is more important which
nouns, verbs or adjectives are chosen. Beckerman claims that his argument
denounces the term &rights of future generations* . . . , but he is incorrect.56
Beckerman and Pasek are strong believers in ameliorating the position of
future generations by leaving them a decent society and a greater respect
for human rights, instead of according to them rights which they cannot
have.57
52 Ibid., at 201每203.
53 Beckerman/Pasek, supra note 2, at 124.
54 Beckerman, supra note 2, at 55.
55 Tremmel, supra note 52, at 200.
56 Ibid.
57 Beckerman/Pasek, supra note 2, at 43.
122 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Similar doubts were expressed by Page, i.e. whether generations as
a whole should possess rights, in contrast to a future cultural group or
nation. Such an idea appears to be too abstract as a ground of a theory
of intergenerational justice, as well as due to the fact that people &do not
generally act as if their generation, assuming they agree on what this might
be, possess any independent value*.58
Yet another, fundamental, question is the issue touched upon by some
scholars who accord rights to future generations, but not unreservedly.
For example, some scholars adhere to the theory of &weaker* obligations
towards future generations than those towards the present generation
because the claims of future generations are conditional and depend on
the existence of future generations to make the claim, in contrast to present
generations, which have actual claims, which are not conditional.59
Further, the non-identity argument has to be taken into account as very
pertinent in relation to intergenerational justice, the character of which
is far from clear in ethics and has been the subject of many philosophical
writings (in-depth analysis of this issue is not within the remit of this
chapter).60
In broad brushstrokes, justice or rights cannot be attributed to future
generations because our acts, actions and policies, although remote, are
indispensable to their coming into existence. Such an approach excludes
the complaints of future individuals (or perhaps groups) relating to past
injustice as, without them, they would never have been born. This is a
philosophical puzzle 每 certain actions will result in harm for future generations;
however, without these actions future generations will not come into
existence.61 In relation to climate change, this problem can be formulated
as follows:
For, if it is nonsensical to compensate present person for ancient wrongs committed
to their ancestors, it is likewise nonsensical to insist that countries that
contributed to vast majority of greenhouse emissions prior to 1990, have more
58 Page, supra note 48, at 156. This author sees the value of her theory in its application to
cultural groups rather than generations: &[t]he idea is that appeals to holistic rights avoid problems
of non-identity because the conditions of group existence are more fi xed than those of
their individual members: they typically endure for a much longer time-span, for example, and
their formation does not depend upon the coming together of a particular sperm and egg*.
59 D. Callahan, &What Obligations Do We Have to Future Generations?*, in E. Partridge
(ed.), Responsibilities to Future Generations: Environmental Ethics (1981) at 82.
60 See D. Parfi t, Reasons and Persons (1984); see also T. Scanlon, &Contractualism and
Utilitarianism*, in A. Sen and B. Williams (eds), Utilitarianism and Beyond (1982) 103,
at 103每28; T. Scanlon, What We Owe to Each Other (1981); W. Kymlicka, Liberalism,
Community and Culture (1989).
61 Page, supra note 48, at 132, i.e. Chapter 6 &The Non-Identity Problem*.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 123
than a modest harm-based duty to pay for the costly measures needed to reduce
emissions. This is because the greenhouse emissions that contributed to the
climate problem originated in acts and policies that also modifi ed the size and
composition of subsequent generations of all countries. If we fi nd this implausible,
it is worth asking whether a world without carbon industries would have
supported a rise in world population from 2.5 billion in 1950 to over 6.4 billion
people in 2005.62
There are a number of unresolved issues concerning the problem of
non-identity, in relation both to the individual and to the group-cent,red
approach.63
III. THE THEORY OF INTERGENERATIONAL
EQUITY: INTRODUCTORY ISSUES
Professor Brown Weiss, in order to overcome the unresolved problems of
the rights of future generations and intergenerational justice, introduced
several new elements to philosophical theories of intergenerational justice,
such as the theory of trust and the partnership (past, present and future)
between generations, and linked these together in the theory of intergenerational
equity. The Earth resources are in a trust, and they are passed
to us by our ancestors and passed by us to our descendants in order to
maintain sustainability. Her theory is based on the premises of human
beings as a part of a natural system, also linked to other human beings,
members of one generation, as well as engaged with diff erent generations
of the human species, using the common patrimony of earth. All generations
are equal in their use of our planet, and the partnership between
generations is a corollary to equality. Each and every generation must
safeguard a healthy environment for other generations. The partnership
of generations is not based on full knowledge, of e.g., how many members
the future generation will have; what will the members of future generations
be like, etc. Future generations are obliged to compensate for the
62 Ibid., at 137.
63 Page argues that the group-centred approach could provide only a partial solution to
the non-identity problem. He says as follows:
&Suppose that a course of action that we think will harm a certain future group*s interests
would be also a necessary condition of that group coming into existence in fi rst place. In
such cases, the approach seems open to a new group-centred puzzle which we might call
the extended non-identity problem.*
Page, supra note 48, at 157.
124 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
damage done and not remedied by a previous generation. However they
can distribute the costs of doing so across several generations by way of
various fi nancial means. Brown Weiss found the roots of this concept in
general international law (such as the United Nations Charter and the
Preamble to the Universal Declarations of Human Rights) and various
religious, cultural and legal traditions. Intergenerational equity is based
on three principles: conservation of options (future generations should be
entitled to diversity comparable to that enjoyed by previous generations);
conservation of quality (each generation should be obliged to maintain the
minimum quality of the planet, so as to pass it on in no worse condition
to future generations); and the conservation of access (each generation
should secure to its members equitable rights of access to the legacy of past
generations and should secure this access for future generations). The use
of the resources of our planet is restricted by the rights of future generations.
These principles, according to the theory of Professor Brown Weiss,
form the nexus of intergenerational obligations and rights or, in other
words, planetary obligations and rights which are held by each and every
generation. These rights are integrally linked and the rights are always
linked with obligations. They originate as moral obligations, which must
transform into legal rights and obligations. These rights and obligations
are present in each generation and linked between generations. They also
exist between the members of the present generation. As a category of
human rights these are group rights, diff erent from individual rights, as
generations hold these rights as groups in relation to other generations.
Brown Weiss lists certain categories of activities which can be earmarked
as adversely impacting upon intergenerational rights.64 She also deals
with the enforcement of such interplanetary rights, possibly by a guardian
or a representative of future generations as a group, and proposes the
establishment of a special offi ce which would undertake the responsibility
to guard the interests of future generations, such as ensuring that the laws
impacting on the environment and natural resources are implemented
and investigating complaints. She also endorses the alternative idea of the
appointment of the planetary ombudsman or commissioners for future
generations as well as the creation of planetary users* fees and funds for
future generations and scientifi c research programmes to analyse and
reduce long-term environmental dangers.
64 Such as waste the impact of which cannot be restricted either spatially or over time;
damage to soil such that it is incapable of supporting fauna and fl ora; destruction of tropical
forests, and resulting restriction of biodiversity, destruction of national monuments constituting
a part of the national heritage of mankind; certain nuclear activities; destruction of
libraries or gene banks: E. Brown Weiss, supra note 13, at 408.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 125
The theory of intergenerational equity was subject to a certain degree of
criticism. One of the authors argued that if we intervene to conserve the
environment for future generations, we are doomed to disaster. Professor
D*Amato*s main criticism was based on the so-called &Parfi t*s paradox*,
which originated in combination with the theory of chaos. He presented
a dual argument: fi rst, future generations cannot have any rights because
they will consist of individuals who at the moment do not exist; and, secondly,
there cannot be a rationale behind actions and interference by us at
the present time if the eff ect they will have is on future generations, as we
do not know what will be the requirements or physical or psychological
make-up of these generations to come as a result of our interference. The
same author further assesses the whole concept as anthropocentric, thus
not taking into suffi cient account the rights of animals.65 The place of nonhumans
within environmental discourse had been analysed for many years
within the context of moral dilemmas which included not only humans
but also issues between humans and non-humans, humans and natural
resources, in general environmental ethics.66 Professor Lowe pointed out
the fundamental fl aws of this doctrine. His arguments are as follows: the
principle of trusteeship of the earth and natural resources is not a norm so
much as trusteeship in English law, but is composed of a cluster of rights
and duties (which would be norms and &therefore two removes from the
concept of sustainable development*67); further, &who are the benefi ciaries?
What is their right of action? What are the duties of the trustees?*68 He
terms intergenerational equity as a &chimera* in a normative sense, since:
it is hard to see what legal content inter-generational equity could have, as
equity is by defi nition a technique for ameliorating in the name of justice the
impact of legal rules upon the existing legal rights and duties of legal persons. By
defi nition, most &other* generations could not appear to secure the enforcement
of their own rights, even if &generations* had locus standi in international law.
There may, therefore, strictly be no rights to which equity can be applied.69
Brown Weiss defends her approach by observing that intergenerational
equity is a group right; thus the position of an individual is not important
65 A. D*Amato, &Do We Owe a Duty to Future Generations to Preserve the Global
Environment*, 84 AJIL (1990) 92, at 92每194.
66 See, e.g., A. De-Shalt, &Environmental Policies and Justice between Generations*, 21
European Journal of Political Research (1992/III) 307, at 312.
67 V. Lowe, &Sustainable Development and Unsustainable Arguments*, in A. Boyle and
D. Freestone, International Law and Sustainable Development: Past Achievements and Future
Challenges (1997), 19, at 27.
68 Ibid.
69 Ibid.
126 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
in the shaping of the rights of future generations. In her defence to other
critical remarks (the excessive anthropological approach), she argues that
the concept places human beings and other living creatures together, thus
not isolating them or diminishing the importance of non-human creations.
70 It should, however, be considered that the anthropocentric aspect
of this theory originated in Rawlsian philosophy in which he argued that
only humans have the capacity for justice, and therefore any moral duties
were restricted to humans.71
Other critics argue that Brown Weiss wrongly conceptualized human
rights in relation to intergenerational equity. She extends the concept of
human rights across the time &while at the same time embracing a generic
human right to a decent environment*.72 Therefore doubts were expressed
whether the human rights context is a proper forum in which to discuss
intergenerational equity, since it is not quite clear whether the environmental
human right exists at all. He argues for the possibility of the existence of
such rights since they operate &across space and time of behalf of broadly
defi ned social and economic goods*,73 but sees as a valid point of criticism
the problem relating to the needs of future generations (as we do not know
what they would be like), even less so what would be the condition of our
planet in a distant future.74
Fundamental critical comments are also expressed which put in doubt the
legal content of this principle, due to its inherent vagueness, as well as to the
indeterminate character of the underlying principles.75 As Warren argues:
The diffi culty with elevating the concept to the status of a principle is that it is so
vague; how do we measure fairness, how do we know what future generations
will want or need, how far into the future should we look?76
The theory of intergenerational equity was also challenged on an ethical
basis, such as the element of inherent selfi shness characterizing human
70 E. Brown Weiss, &Our Rights and Obligations to Future Generations for the
Environment*, 84 AJIL (1990) 198, at 204; see also E. Brown Weiss, supra note 13; A.
Gillespie, International Environmental Law, Policy and Ethics (1997), at 124每46; L. Warren,
&Intergenerational Equity*, available online at: http://www.corwm.org.uk/Pages/Plenary%20
Meetings%20Past/Pre%20November%202007/2006/11-12%20April%202006/673%20-%20
Intergenerational%20Equity.doc (last visited on 5 December 2007).
71 Rawls I, supra note 2, at 164, 177每8.
72 G.P. Supanich, &The Legal Basis of Intergenerational Responsibility: An Alternative
View每The Sense of Intergenerational Identity*, 3 YBIEL (1992) 94, at 96每9.
73 Ibid., at 97.
74 Ibid., at 98.
75 Warren, supra note 70.
76 Ibid., at 1.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 127
nature, which is often refl ected in our indiff erence to the fate of distant
human beings such as future generations.77 Therefore, certain authors
attempt to fi nd a diff erent ethical basis for this theory, for instance that
our gratitude towards past generations should be refl ected in paternalistic
responsibility for future generations.78
The main feature of the criticism expressed in relation to this theory
is the attempted regulation of the generations who are not identifi ed.
This is also a problem which arises in relation to economic issues such
as the apportionment of benefi ts and costs. Other concerns were put
forward in relation to sustainable development. According to Alder and
Wilkinson, strong sustainable development requires each generation to
pass what are in essence the same environmental goods to the future
generations.
It may be said that the theory of intergenerational justice did not overcome
serious theoretical issues of the application of generational justice
between generations. First, the most fundamental question remains
unresolved: do future generations have rights? Are these rights moral or
written? As was observed above, serious arguments to the contrary were
presented by a number of philosophers, such as Beckerman, who consistently
in all his publications denied the existence of such rights. Brown
Weiss accepts as a given that future generations have rights; therefore, no
arguments were submitted refuting Beckerman*s assertions (or, for that
matter, arguments supporting her theory, predicated upon the existence
of such rights).
Even if we accept that future generations have rights, a number of
issues remain unresolved, such as the question of the purely contractarian
character of generational equity and the problem of non-identity.
The introduction of the concept of trust and, fl owing from this, partnership
between generations, in the view of the present author, did not
remedy the conceptual diffi culties of intergenerational justice, neither
did the introduction of planetary rights enjoyed by all generations
which, according to Brown Weiss, are group rights. The character of
group rights, as such, is not without its problems and the applicability
of these rights to the whole generation is doubtful. Even if we
assume that such group rights can be applied to cultural groups, this
still does not solve the problem of planetary rights accorded to whole
generations.
77 Gillespie, supra note 70, at 117.
78 J. Alder and D. Wilkinson, Environmental Law and Ethics (1999).
128 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
IV. CERTAIN NECESSARY CLARIFICATIONS IN
THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT
It may also be observed that there is a certain general lack of consistency in
nomenclature and that that diff erent meanings of the concept of intergenerational
equity are used interchangeably and are often incorrectly assimilated.
The present author identifi ed at least three ways which describe
intergenerational equity in various publications, all of them under the same
chapeau of the theory (concept) of intergenerational equity:
(i) simple invocation of future generations in Conventions (such as the
1946 Whaling Convention) and Constitutions;
(ii) intergenerational equity as the concept of trust (drawing from the
concept of trust in English and American laws);
(iii) intergenerational equity as a philosophical concept of intergenerational
justice (see e.g. Rawls)
There is a subgroup:
ii and iii (a) intergenerational equity which both draws from and modifi
es the concept of trust and the philosophical concept of intergenerational
of justice. This is represented by Brown Weiss.
These diff erent approaches are constantly confused and frequently treated
as the one theory. For example, Judge Weeramantry in his opinions gives
numerous examples of the treaties which contain the &generational* aspect,
which he assimilates with the theory of trust (the International Court of
Justice as a trustee for future generations).
In various international environmental conventions, such as the 1946
Whaling Convention, the future generations are usually mentioned in the
Preamble: &[r]ecognising the interest of the nations of the world in safeguarding
for future generations the great natural resources represented by
the whale stocks*. A similar example is contained in the 1979 Convention
on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (the &Bonn
Convention*): &[a]ware that each generation of man holds the resources of
the earth for future generations and has an obligation to ensure that this
legacy is conserved and, where utilised, is used wisely*. Such statements do
not amount to the concept or the theory of intergenerational justice, equity
or the establishment of a trust between the generations. Their character
is very hortatory, which in fact does not aspire to impose any binding
legal obligations. Such statements do not even have the legal character
of &principles* as opposed to &rules*. Such a distinction was introduced by
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 129
Professor Boyle, who explained that certain environmental treaties may
generate principles, but not rules.79 He identifi ed intergenerational equity
with such principles:
Sustainable development, intergenerational equity, or the precautionary principle,
are all the more convincing seen in this sense: not as binding obligations
which must be complied with, but as principles, considerations or objectives to
be taken into account of, may be soft, but they are still law.80
The aspirational character of such statements precludes the equation of
the simple invocation of future generations in the Preambles to several
conventions with the concept of trust. However, as stated above, there
is a methodological confusion and a lack of structured approach to this
issue.81
V. INTERGENERATIONAL EQUITY AS A TRUST
Although it is an accepted view that the theory of Brown Weiss is based on
Rawlsian distributive justice, it may also be said that the concept of trust,
which plays a pivotal role, may be viewed as an element of corrective justice
in her theory. As stated above, Solum, for example, suggested that as a
refl ection of corrective justice the polluting generations might be obliged
to create a trust to compensate unborn future generations for injuries they
would incur. She draws equally from the concepts of trust in domestic and
international laws.
It may be said that, historically, the concept of intergenerational equity
as a trust originated in the Bering Fur Seal arbitration and, at the same
time, it was the most progressive and innovative approach. This approach
was based on a concept of natural resources (in this case seals) put in a
trust for the whole of humankind, thus dissociating them from the sovereignty
or jurisdiction of States. For the same reason, it also provided for
the imposition of certain regulatory measures outside the States* jurisdiction
in the areas traditionally open to all States granting them almost
unrestricted access for the utilization of natural resources. This innovative
use of a trust has &an increasingly important role to play in environmental
protection* as:
79 A. Boyle, &Some Refl ections on Relationship of Treaties and Soft Law*, in V.
Gowlland-Debbas (ed.), Multilateral Treaty-Making: The Current Status of Challenges to and
Reforms Needed in the International Legislative Process (2000) 25, at 32.
80 Ibid., at 33.
81 See also Redgwell, supra note 2, at 180.
130 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
the essence of trust concept is in the separation of legal and benefi cial ownership
of property. As a legal owner of the trust property, the trustee has the management
powers over the trust property, but subject to the duty, enforceable under
the equitable jurisdiction of the courts, to exercise those powers for the exclusive
benefi t of the benefi ciary who is the benefi cial or equitable owner of the trust
property.82
Trust are established on the basis of &three certainties*: the certainty of
words; the certainty of subject; and the certainty of object (the requirement
which is more relaxed in relation to charitable trusts). However, as
Redgwell observes, private trusts in general are largely anthropocentric
and their usefulness for the protection of the environment is limited for at
least three reasons:
(i) the rule against perpetuities prohibits the private trust device from being
used for the intergenerational protection of environmental assets;
(ii) only property owned by the settlor may be subject of a private trust;
and
(iii) private trust may be established only for the benefi t of a specifi c
named benefi ciary or a specifi c class of benefi ciaries.
All these restrictions lead this author to the conclusion that a private trust
over public lands for the benefi t of unmade future generations would not be
legally possible. Redgwell further investigates charitable trusts and the public
trust doctrine as to their possible uses for the benefi t of future generations.
Charitable trusts appear to be more suitable for the purpose of the protection
of the environmental rights of future generations. They are characterized by
certain features which make them a more eff ective tool than private trusts
from the intergenerational interests* point of view. First, charitable trusts
may be gifted in perpetuity and they are established for a purpose, not in the
name of a specifi c benefi ciary, and their purpose must be:
the benefi t of the community or an appreciably important section of the community
and not for the benefi t of particular private individual nor for a class of
private individuals, such as the employees of a particular employer.83
The suitability of charitable trusts for the protection environmental
intergenerational rights is enhanced by the operation of the cy-pr豕s doctrine,
which allows charitable trusts to survive if the trust fails and allows
82 Redgwell, supra note 2, at 7.
83 Ibid., at 13每14.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 131
the transfer of trust property to other charitable purposes as close to the
original purpose as possible. Charitable trusts have many other distinguishing
features which are diff erent from those of private trusts: they
enjoy several exemptions from:
(i) the &certainty of objects* (in relation to specifi c benefi ciaries);
(ii) the rule against perpetuities; and
(iii) to a large degree the doctrine of lapse.
Charitable trusts also attract taxation benefi ts.84
There is a problem of fi tting the protection of the environment into the
defi nition of the charitable fund.85 There is a diff erence between the positions
of nature and animals in relation to the protection available under
charitable funds. Parks of outstanding natural beauty may be included;
however, the protection of such trusts extends to animals only if they are
useful to humankind. Such a condition emphasizes the anthropocentric
character of charitable funds in so far as they relate to animals. At present
the wildlife in the United Kingdom, which is included in charitable funds, is
registered under the heading of &education*.86 Charitable trusts are limited
to operations which do not have a political purpose as their direct aim.
They frequently establish an institutional body to maintain and operate
the trust (such as the National Trust). Trusts also have fi nancial means
in so-called &trust funds*, which are distinct investment accounts which,
as Redgwell observes, may be used for the protection of the environment,
and they may even be established to compensate future generations for the
loss of natural resources. The portion of revenues paid for the exploitation
84 Ibid., at 14.
85 As Redgwell explains, charitable trusts must be established as a matter of public
interest and the charitable trust has to be (or exist) for a charitable purpose (these include
the advancement of education; the relief of poverty; and other purposes benefi cial for the
community). The main categories of contemporary charitable trusts include: social welfare;
cultural purposes; conservation of the environment; religious cultural teachings of immigrant
communities; and the promotion of racial harmony: Redgwell, supra note 2, at 16每17.
86 Ibid., at 19. The same author also analyses the law relating to charity which is conduced
abroad: Redgwell, supra note 2, at 19每20. It must be mentioned that at present there is a new
Charities Bill pending before the Houses of Parliament, which extends the charitable purpose:
the prevention of poverty; the advancement of education; the advancement of religion; the
advancement of health and or the saving of lives; the advancement of citizenship or community
development; the advancement of arts, culture, heritage and science; the advancement
of amateur sport; the advancement of human rights, confl ict resolution or reconciliation or
the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity; the advancement of
environmental protection or improvement; the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age,
ill-health, disability, fi nancial hardship or other disadvantage; the advancement of animal
welfare; the promotion of the effi ciency of the armed forces of the Crown; any other purposes
within subsection (4): Clause 2 of the Draft (Meaning of &charitable purpose*).
132 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
of natural resources may be deposited by the Government in trust funds
to indemnify those generations for losses in natural resources. In such a
scheme, the principal is held for benefi ciaries, with the State fulfi lling the
role of a trustee. Further, Redgwell analyses the doctrine of public trust
from the point of view of its utility for the protection of the environment
for future generations. This doctrine is known to the US law and is derived
from the Roman law concept of res publica. Sand is also of the view that the
public trust doctrine is well established in US environmental law, however
contested, partly due to its reliance on property concepts.87 He is convinced
that this doctrine may play a very useful role in the protection of the environment,
and to a certain extent in the protection of the rights of future
generations. The same author is also of the view that, although a number of
US state constitutions contain environmental provisions, &the interests of
future generations 每 intergenerational equity 每 remain largely ignored*.88
However, there are certain constitutions, such as those of Pennsylvania
and Florida, which incorporate the theory of intergenerational equity,
which is linked to the concept of public trust.89 According to Christie, the
87 On the basis of the relevant case law, the following fi ve-point compatibility with the
public trust obligation which have been used by courts: 1. Public bodies will control the area;
2. The area will be devoted to public purposes and open to the public; 3. The diminution
of the area of original use will be small when compared with the entire area; 4. None of the
public uses of the original area will be destroyed or greatly impaired; 5. The disappointment
of those members of the public who wish to use the area of the new use for former purposes is
negligible when compared with the greater convenience to be aff orded those members of the
public using the new facility. Redgwell analyses the complex legal character of this doctrine,
whether it is a property concept or one of the public (administrative) law: Redgwell, supra
note 2, at 44 and 63每8 and P. Sand, &Sovereignty Bounded: Public Trusteeship for Common
Pool Resources?*, 4 Global Environmental Politics (2004/1) 47. Sand defi nes the meaning of
environmental trusteeship in the following terms:
&[I]t means that certain natural resources 每 e.g., watercourses, wildlife, or wilderness areas 每
regardless of their allocation to public or private users are defi ned as part of an &inalienable
public trust*; certain authorities 每 e.g., federal agencies, state governments, or indigenous
tribal institutions 每 are designated as &public trustees* for protection of those resources;
every citizen, as &benefi ciary* of the trust, may invoke its terms to hold the trustees accountable
and to obtain judicial protection against encroachment or deterioration.*
He also gives ample examples of other States, such as the Philippines, Eritrea; South Africa
and India, which adopted a similar idea of environmental trusteeship: P. Sand, &Sovereignty
Bounded: Public Trusteeship for Common Pool Resources?*, 4 Global Environmental Politics
(2004/1) 47, at 49.
88 Redgwell, supra note 2, at 69.
89 The Constitution of Pennsylvania provides as follows:
&Pennsylvania*s natural resources are the common property of all people, including generations
yet to come. As a trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and
maintain for the benefi t of the people.*
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 133
inclusion of &the concept of intergenerational equity in relation to marine
living resources adds an intertemporal aspect to Florida*s public trust
doctrine*.90
However, there are some problems with the application of the doctrine
of public trust, such as in relation to marine reserves. The use of marine
reserves is criticized in that they violate the public trust doctrine. The States
hold (their own) lands below navigable waters in trust for the public. The
classical public uses protected by the doctrine of public trust were navigation,
fi shing and commerce. However, some of the States also include recreational
use as a part of public trust. Courts have extended trust protection
to environmental and ecological protection and the preservation of scenic
beauty and of those lands in their natural state, so they may be used as the
areas for scientifi c study, as open space and as environment, which serves
as a habitat and as a source of food for birds and marine life.
However, the greatest drawback of this doctrine is that many protected
uses can confl ict with each other, and the doctrine does not establish a
specifi c hierarchy among them. Therefore agencies and legislatures must
balance competing interests based on the appropriateness of the use in
relation to a particular area of the ocean.91 Christie, however, is of the
view that, although the State*s public trust doctrine does not establish any
priorities among confl icting pubis trust users:
the additional constitutional requirement to preserve the rights of future generations
to marine living resources, however, creates an overarching limitation on
the exercise of public trust uses. The inherent uncertainty in science and variability
in ecosystems necessitates measures to insure the intergenerational rights in
Cited in and commented on by P. Sand, supra note 87, at 49; the Constitution of Florida
provides as follows: Article X. Section 16. Limiting Marine Net Fishing,
&(a) The marine living resources of the State of Florida belong to all of people of the state
and should be conserved and managed for the benefi t of the state, its people, and future
generations . . .*
Cited in D. Christie, &Marine Reserves, the Public Trust Doctrine and Intergenerational
Equity*, 19 Journal of Land Use (2004) 427, at 433; the same author provides, on the same
page, yet another example of the statutory incorporation of this doctrine. The legislation
creating Biscayne National Park states:
In order to preserve and to protect for the education, inspiration, recreation, and enjoyment
of present and future generations a rare combination of terrestrial, marine, and
amphibious life in tropical setting of great beauty, there is hereby established the Biscayne
National Park . . .*
90 Christie, supra note 89, at 434.
91 Ibid., at 432每3.
134 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
regard to diversity and quality of, and access to, marine living resources. Marine
resources can provide that &insurance policy* for future generations.92
Finally, there is the question of international trusts as embodied in the
United Nations Trusteeship system. The issue of classical trusteeship is
of only historical importance at present, since in 1994 the last territory
remaining under the Trusteeship System, the Republic of Palau, became
independent.93 Redgwell analyses such an option. It must be said, however,
that the reforming of the Trusteeship Council as a body with functions
relating to the environment, as guardian of the interests of future generations,
as well as holder in trust for humanity of its common heritage has not
gained much support over the years. There are several problems with such
as solution such as amendment to the United Nations, and as Redgwell
observes:
a constellation of issues needs to be considered in redesigning the Trusteeship
Council. These include: the intended life-span of a revamp Council; the extent of
the Charter amendments proposed; the legal relationship between the Charter,
as amended, and existing (and future) international environmental agreements;
membership of the Council; and fi nally its functions.94
In so far as this system is concerned, the Case Concerning Certain Phosphate
Lands in Nauru95 will be discussed, as it was an example of the practical
application of the concepts of international trust with the conjunction of
intergenerational equity before the International Court of Justice.
The doctrine of international custodianship or stewardship over shared
and exhaustible natural resources may be treated as a principle analogous to
trusteeship, which supports the theory of intergenerational equity.96 Some
authors approach stewardship as a form of trusteeship (also as &guardianship*
or &custodianship*).97 A certain form of stewardship over natural
resources was proposed as early as in the Bering Sea Fur Seal Arbitration.
92 Ibid., at 434.
93 See in depth on this system: Redgwell, supra note 2, at 144每74. In 1994 the Trusteeship
System suspended operations. See also C. Redgwell. &Reforming the United Nations
Trusteeship System*, in W.B. Chambers and J.F. Green (eds), Reforming International
Environmental Governance: from Institutional Limits to Innovative Reforms (2005) 178, at
178每204.
94 Redgwell, supra note 93, at 190.
95 Case Concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia). This case
was discontinued by Order of the Court of 13 September 1993; Case Concerning Certain
Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia), Order of 13 September 1993 [1993] ICJ Rep.
322, at 322每3.
96 Redgwell, supra note 2, at 32.
97 Sand, supra note 87, at 52.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 135
As Sand reminds us, such concepts were suggested e.g., for the protection
of living resources both globally and in certain marine areas; global atmosphere,
and all global commons, etc.98 According to the same author, the
fundamental political dimension of a trusteeship in which people are only
guardians and users of the Earth and its recourses, not the owners, and
that States (governments) only manage common natural resources is &often
neglected in purely juridical comparisons between Anglo-American trust
law and other legal systems*. He notes another misguided perception of the
use of the term &trusteeship*. This term is frequently used as &a metaphor*
without any juridical content. He also challenges the widely assumed bilateral
structure of the relationship between generations of such a trusteeship;
present generations of humankind as a trustee and future generations (or
&future humanity*) as the benefi ciaries. According to Sand, such a structure
is typically trilateral, i.e. it contains community (as trustee/ settlor); states
(as trustees) and people (as benefi ciaries). Sand himself is mindful of a
number of problems which are still open for discussion, such as what is
the community (global or concerning special international regimes); who
are the trustees (states only and /or intergovernmental institutions acting
outside national jurisdiction); who are the people concerned (present and
future civil society, or groups or individuals) and what is the corpus of
the trust (designated resources only or the global commons of the whole
environment)?99
This is a very original approach to trusteeship. However, in the view of
the present author, some clarifi cation may be required as to clear distinction
between the notions of &community*, &community of States* (as in
Article 53 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties) and
&people*. Therefore, in order to achieve more clarity, a distinction should
be made between these two notions, so as to indicate when and under
what conditions people become &community*. Further, Sand presents three
options for the creation of an international environmental trust: a specifi c
trust deed (designating a specifi c resource to be conserved for a benefi cial
purpose, such as the listing of protected areas under the World Heritage
Convention); a treaty covering the entire category of trust resources in all
members States (such as genetic resources included in Annex I to the FAO
Plant Gene Treaty); and, fi nally, the &objective* extension of a conventional
regime to all States (erga omnes), not just the parties to the treaty by
98 Ibid.; Judge Weeramantry in his Separate Opinion in the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros case,
used the term &a principle of trusteeship of earth resources*: Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-
Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment of 25 September 1997 (Separate
Opinion of Judge Weeramantry), [1997] ICJ Rep. 88, at 102, 108, 110.
99 Sand, supra note 87, at 55.
136 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
customary law, on the basis of objective natural criteria of the resource (it
would, according to Sand, require some declaratory or customary specifi -
cation of the international community*s common concern, such as the deep
seabed under the 1982 Convention, which is common heritage as a form of
international trusteeship).100
As stated above, the concepts of trust in common law formed the basis
of Professor Brown Weiss* theory of intergenerational equity, the central
feature of which is the planetary trust. The legal form of such trust resembles
to certain degree a charitable trust (it lacks the named benefi ciaries
and has no time limitations). A planetary trust applies to the present and
future generations and is based on partnership between three generations:
past, present and future. Each generation holds natural resources in
trust for future generations. Future generations have a dual role: on one
hand they are the benefi ciaries; and on the other hand they are the trustees
holding the Earth*s natural resources for other generations to come.
Intergenerational rights and obligations form a body of the theory of intergenerational
equity or justice between generations.101 By invoking justice
between generations, Brown Weiss draws from Rawls*s Theory of Justice
(see above, supra note 1)102 and his theory of the original position and the
&veil of ignorance*. The model of Brown Weiss refers to generations, not to
individuals like Rawls* in theory. The planetary trust obliges generations
to restore depleted resourses, not just not to deplete, like the obligations of
trustees under private and charitable funds.103
VI. APPLICATION OF INTERGENERATIONAL
EQUITY AT THE LEVEL OF NATIONAL
COURTS
The principle of intergenerational equity was once successfully applied in
practice, but in conjunction with the right to a healthful environment as
enshrined in the Constitution of the Philippines in the famous 1993 Minors
Oposa claim.104 This case was originally a civil law class action fi led in
100 Sand, supra note 87, at 56.
101 Brown Weiss, supra note 13, at 405每408.
102 See also Barry I, supra note 2, at 276.
103 See Redgwell, supra note 2, at 75.
104 Minors Oposa v. Secretary of The Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR), Supreme Court of the Philippines, 30 July 1993, 33 ILM (1994) 173; on the
case see A. de la Viña, &The Right to a Sound Environment: The Case of Minors Oposa v.
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources*, 3 RECIEL (1994/IV) 246, at 246每52;
A. Rest, &Implementing the Principles of Intergenerational Equity and Responsibility*,
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 137
the Philippines by minors who were plaintiff s against the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (the &DENR*). The subject-matter of
the action was a claim to cancel logging permits issued on basis of the Timber
Licensing Agreements (the &TLAs*) and to cease issuing new ones, as they
were the reasons for the continued deforestation (they remained eff ective
for 25 years). The minors argued that they represented themselves as well
as unborn generations. The cause of action was the constitutional right of
balanced and healthful ecology, as enshrined in the Constitution of the
Philippines. It was also argued that the refusal to cancel TLAs was in breach
of other environmental laws of the Philippines, such as the Presidential
Decree. The plaintiff s argued that the State should protect them in its role
as parens patriae. The environmental right was pleaded on behalf of the
minors and their successors.105 In 1991, the judge issued an order which
granted the defendant*s motion to dismiss, on the ground that the plaintiff s
had no cause of action and the issue was of a political character, which was
in the realm of the legislative or executive branches of Government. The
most important argument submitted by the judge against the admission of
the claim was issue of breach of the fundamental constitutional law of nonimpairment
of contracts in the case of the cancellation of the TLAs.
The plaintiff s fi led a special civil action for certoriari and requested the
Supreme Court to rescind the above-mentioned order. They submitted
that TLAs are not contracts, and therefore are not covered by the nonimpairment
law. The Respondent argued, inter alia, that the petitioners
had failed to plead the specifi c environmental right and that the cancellation
of the TLAs could not be done without due process of law, in which
each and every holder of a TLA would be heard. The judges of the Supreme
Court commented on the novel element of the petition: the representation
of the petitioners* generation and the generations to come. The petitioners*
legal argument for suing on behalf of future generations was based on
the concept of intergenerational equity in so far as the right to a healthful
environment was concerned. The Court said that:
Each generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and
harmony for the full enjoyment of a balanced and healthful ecology. . . . The
minors* assertion of their right to a sound environment, at the same time,
performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the
generations to come.106
26 Environmental Policy and Law (1994) 314, at 314每20; D. Gatmayan, &Illusion of
Intergenerational Equity: Oposa v. Factoran as Pyrrhic Victory*, 15 Geo. Int*l Envtl.L. Rev.
(2003) 457, at 457每86.
105 Minors Oposa case, supra note 104, at 181.
106 Ibid., at 185.
138 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The Supreme Court thus was of the view that responsibility towards following
generations as regards maintaining the enjoyable ecology and the
assertion of the right to a clean environment on their behalf, gave the
petitioners locus standi.
The Court did not support the Respondents* argument that the petitioners
had failed to assert a specifi c and defi nite right to be protected. It
was of the view that they had presented, in a convincing manner, a right
to a balanced and healthful ecology by relying on a number of the legal
instruments, such as Sections 15 and 16 of Article II of the Constitution
and Executive Orders of the Administrative Code. The judges, having
analysed these instruments, came to the conclusion that the granting of
TLAs was against the duties and functions of the DENR and damaging
to the environment, and against the duty to preserve the environment for
future generations. The Court also refused to accept the argument that
the question was one of policy formulation, and thus squarely within the
remit of the executive and legislative branches. It said that such a stringent
view was not acceptable, especially in the light of Section 1 of Article
VIII of the Constitution, which bestowed on the courts certain powers of
scrutiny in relation to settling actual controversies involving rights which
are legally demandable and enforceable. The Supreme Court made further
statements as to the role of non-impairment of contracts. It noted that
the Government cannot be bound indefi nitely by TLAs, notwithstanding
changes in other circumstances, such as welfare. Further, the Court said
that the TLAs were not contracts, but licensing agreements, and therefore
the non-impairment clause was not applicable. The case was referred to a
court of fi rst instance to review all existing TLAs.
The judgment of the Supreme Court was subject to several critical
comments. First, quite serious critical observations were contained in the
Concurring Opinion of Judge Feliciano (so fundamental that in fact his
Concurring Opinion resembles a Dissenting Opinion). His observations
concern locus standi, implying a legal interest which a plaintiff must have
in the subject-matter of the suit. In this case, the class involved the broadest
possible membership, as it:
appears to embrace everyone living in the country whether now or in the future,
it appears to me that everyone who may be expected to benefi t from the course
of action petitioners seek to require respondents to take, it vested with the necessary
locus standi.107
107 Minors Oposa case, supra note 104 (Concurring Opinion of Judge Feliciano), at
200每201; (emphasis added).
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 139
The Court then in this case appeared to recognize a benefi ciary*s right of
action, which presupposed the prior exhaustion of local remedies, an issue
which was not discussed.108 Judge Feliciano had objections to invoking the
right to balanced and healthful ecology as the ground for this claim. It was
not specifi c enough, &[i]t is in fact very diffi cult to fashion language more
comprehensive in scope and generalised in character than the right to ※a
balanced and healthful ecology.§109 Therefore the petitioners had to show
a more specifi c legal right, which was concrete enough to be violated by
actions or failures to act. He was adamant that such right should be an operable
right (to be clearly defi ned and thus possible to invoke easily in a court
of law), rather than constitutional or statutory policy. Judge Feliciano gave
two reasons why it should be a detailed right: the right should be specifi c
enough to give defendants an opportunity to defend themselves eff ectively
(the due process dimension); and, where the right in question was as broad
as this Constitutional right, the courts would be forced into the &uncharted
ocean of social and economic policy making*.110
The issue of environmental human right as a policy statement was the
subject of many other critical comments. Rest therefore argues that it is
only a &※refl ex-right§ of an individual against the State to use its free discretion
for reaching the political aims*.111 From this follows only a discretionary
power of a competent organ of a State to select the relevant policy in
each and every case. This power did not bestow on an individual a specifi c
human right against the authority in question to implement environmental
policies. As a result thereof such right could not be used against third,
private parties.112 The same author mirrors the views of Judge Feliciano
that the contents of such a right are too ill-defi ned and too broad to become
operable and justiciable.113
As to the practical result achieved by the Oposa case, it must be stated that
it did not bring about the cancellation of any timber licence agreements and
it took three years for the judiciary to deal with this issue 每 one year in the
lower court and two years in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court did
not order the cancellation of TLAs, but, as a matter of due process, ordered
the case to be remanded for trial with TLAs holders as indispensable parties
(evidence must have been shown against each and every TLA holder), while
&[in] the meantime, Philippine forests continue to be denuded*.114
108 Ibid., at 201.
109 Ibid.
110 Ibid., at 205.
111 Rest, supra note 104, at 318.
112 Ibid.
113 Ibid.
114 De la Viña, supra note 104, at 250.
140 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Some authors are, however, very critical of the impact of and the results
achieved by the Oposa case. Gatmayan argues that:
Oposa adds barely anything new either to Philippines jurisprudence or to the
cause of environmental protection, and that it has faded from the practice
of law because it does not strengthen the legal arsenal for environmental
protection.115
The above-mentioned author gives fi ve reasons why this case does not
deserve the praise and publicity it received:
1. No TLAs were cancelled, as the petiti,oners did not pursue the case;
2. The Supreme Court statement on locus standi to sue for future generations
is not a binding precedent, as in eff ect it was an obiter dictum;
3. Even if &standing* was an issue before the Supreme Court, the case law
of the Philippines had assumed a liberal stand in relation to standing to
sue. Therefore, the Court, by relying on the case law, could have either
reached the decision that the children had standing to sue or waived the
requirement completely. The same author observes that even if standing
to sue for future generations becomes a standard legal doctrine,
it is not guaranteed that it will lead to the protection of the environment.
The court will have to rule on whether the challenged acts, have
a detrimental eff ect on the environment (in the Oposa case the issue of
TLAs had its eff ect on the right to a healthful environment).116
4. The invocation of the concept of intergenerational equity in the case
was, in the words of this author, &ultimately useless*. The Supreme
Court would have decided this case precisely in the same manner had
the children fi led the case only on their own behalf. Gatmayan explains
that:
In cases involving the protection of the environment, the distinction between
present and future generations is inconsequential 每 we cannot protect the
rights of future generations without protecting the rights of the present.117
5. In the particular case of the Philippines, the protection of the rights of
future generations was already included in the law and jurisprudence
before the entry in force of the 1997 Constitution and the Oposa
case.
115 Gatmayan, supra note 104, at 459.
116 Ibid., at 459每60.
117 Ibid., at 460.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 141
Gatmayan ultimately sees the value of the case as lying not in the observations
of the Supreme Court about the concept of future generations and
their standing to sue, but rather in the fact that the Constitutional right to
a healthful environment proved to be justiciable.118 However, as the situation
stands at present, 1.3 million of Philippine woodland are still covered
by these agreements. The same author fi nally notes that this case ultimately
became what Mr Oposa had hoped to avoid: pure rhetoric in invoking
responsibility of future generations for the world*s natural resources.119
There are many other instances of the concept of international equity
having been invoked before the Indian and Bangladeshi courts, with
very mixed results. As Razzaque observes, Indian courts mentioned this
concept very seldom, and only in the context of the necessity to preserve the
environment for present and future generations. She refers to cases dealing
with areas of reserved forest, in which the court decided to base them on
the needs of present and future generations and the rational use of natural
resources. The notion of equity has been linked with this concept of public
trust, as well as with the right of people to enjoy a healthy environment.
However, in Pakistan, this concept was never applied. In Bangladesh, the
courts rejected this concept on the ground that neither the constitution
nor the national legislation of this country specifi cally mentioned it. The
famous case of Vellore Citizens* Welfare Forum refers to the Brundtland
Commission*s defi nition of sustainable development, which included
the concept of future generations. In People United for Better Living in
Calcutta v. State of West Bengal, the court stated that there is a responsibility
of the present generation to posterity &for their proper growth and
development as to allow posterity to breathe normally and love in a cleaner
environment and have consequent fuller development*. In the J. Jagannath
case, the court dealt with commercial shrimp farming. It stated that a
strict environmental test is needed before the grant of permission for such
farming in a sensitive coastal area. It said that there must be a compulsory
environmental impact assessment, which would take into account intergenerational
equity and the cost of rehabilitation. As regards Bangladesh,
Razzaque writes that the Court in 1995 and 1996 mentioned intergenerational
rights in two cases but did not dwell on their the exact legal nature. In
M.Farooque v. Bangladesh and Others the petitioners submitted that they
were representatives not only of their own generation but of the generations
to come. The court rejected this argument. The petitioner relied on
the Minors Oposa case. The court was of the view that minors had locus
118 Ibid.
119 Ibid., at 485.
142 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
standi before the court in the Philippines, since in the Constitution of the
Philippines the right to a balanced and healthful ecology was a fundamental
right. In addition several laws in the Philippines declared that it was the
State*s policy to conserve the forests of that country for not just the present
generation but future generations, as well. However, the Constitution of
Bangladesh does not have such a right.120
VII. PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF
INTERGENERATIONAL EQUITY AT THE
LEVEL OF INTERNATIONAL COURTS
At the international level Judge Weeramantry was a prominent advocate
of the rights of future generations, such as in the 1995 Nuclear Test II case
in the International Court of Justice.121 He was of the view that the Court
must regard itself as a trustee of those (intergenerational rights) in the sense that
a domestic court is a trustee of the interests of an infant to speak for itself. If
this Court is charged with administering international law, or has already done
so, this principle is one which must inevitably be a concern of this Court. This
consideration involved is too serious to be dismissed as lacking in importance
merely because there is no precedent on which it rests.122
The Court as such dealt with this question in the Nuclear Weapons Advisory
Opinion, in which it said as follows:
The Court recognises that the environment is under threat and that the use
of nuclear weapons could constitute a catastrophe for the environment. The
Court also recognises that the environment is not an abstraction but represents
the living space, the quality of life and very health of human beings, including
generations unborn. The existence of the general obligations of States to ensure
that their activities within their jurisdiction or control respect the environment
of other States or areas beyond national jurisdiction is not part of the corpus
of international law relating to the environment (para.29) . . . [t]he destructive
power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in either space or time. They
have the potential to destroy all civilisation and the entire ecosystem of the
planet . . . Further, the use of nuclear weapons could be a serious danger to
120 J. Razzaque, &Human Rights and the Environment. National Experiences*, 32
Environmental Policy and Law (2002) 99, at 105.
121 Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the
Court*s Judgment of 20 December 1974 in the Nuclear Tests (New Zealand v. France) Case,
Order of 22 September 1995 (Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry) [1995] ICJ Rep. 317,
at 317每62 (hereinafter Nuclear Tests Case II).
122 Ibid., at 317.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 143
future generations. Ionising radiation has the potential to damage the future
environment, food marine ecosystem, and to cause genetic eff ects and illnesses
to future generations (para. 55) . . . in order correctly to apply to the present
Charter law on the use of force and the law applicable in armed confl ict, in
particular humanitarian law, it is imperative for the Court to take account of
the unique characteristics of nuclear weapons, and in particular their destructive
capacity, their capacity to cause untold human suff ering and their ability to
cause damage to generations to come (para.36).
However the opinion of the Court raised certain dissatisfaction, as
[t]he Court, however, stopped far short of explicitly relying on a principle
of intergenerational equity or for recognising explicitly the rights of future
generations.123
Further, future generations merited a mention in the 1997 Gabčikovo-
Nagymaros Project.124
The Court said as follows:
It is clear that the Project*s impact upon, and its implications for, the environment
are of necessity a key issue. The numerous scientifi c reports which have
been presented to the Court by the Parties 每 even if their conclusions are often
contradictory 每 provide abundant evidence that this impact and these implications
are considerable. In order to evaluate the environmental risks, current
standards must be taken into consideration. This is not only allowed by the
wording of Articles 15 and 19, but even prescribed, to the extent that these
articles impose a continuing 每 and thus necessarily evolving 每 obligation on the
parties to maintain the quality of the water of the Danube and to protect nature.
The Court is mindful that, in the fi eld of environmental protection, vigilance
and prevention are required on account of the often irreversible character of
damage to the environment and of the limitations inherent in the very mechanism
of reparation of this type of damage. Throughout the ages, mankind has,
for economic and other reasons, constantly interfered with nature. In the past,
this was often done without consideration of the eff ects upon the environment.
Owing to new scientifi c insights and to a growing awareness of the risks for
mankind 每 for present and future generations 每 of pursuit of such interventions
at an unconsidered and unabated pace, new norms and standards have
been developed, set forth in a great number of instruments during the last two
decades. Such new norms have to be taken into consideration, and such new
standards given proper weight, not only when States contemplate new activities
but also when continuing with activities begun in the past. This need to reconcile
economic development with protection of the environment is aptly expressed in
the concept of sustainable development.
123 E. Brown Weiss, &Opening Doors to the Environment and to Future Generations*, in
L. de Chauzournes and P. Sands (eds), International Law, International Court of Justice and
Nuclear Weapons (1999) 338, at 349每50.
124 Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judgment
of 25 September 1997 [1997] ICJ Rep. 7, at 77每8, para. 140.
144 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
For the purposes of the present case, this means that the Parties together
should look afresh at the eff ects on the environment of the operation of the
Gabc赤kovo power plant. In particular they must fi nd a satisfactory solution for
the volume of water to be released into the old bed of the Danube and into the
side-arms on both sides of the river.
The Court*s invocation of the concept of intergenerational equity appears
to be confi ned only to considering it as one of the factors to be taken into
account in relation to environmental issues. This concept certainly does
not emerge as a decisive element in the ICJ*s jurisprudence. The lack of the
opportunity to apply this concept before courts and tribunals makes it rather
impractical and even, as Professor Boyle described it, &widely unrealistic*.125
In his many Individual Opinions, Judge Weeramantry was a great supporter
of the rights of future generations. For example in the above-described
Advisory Opinion on the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, one of the
arguments against them was damage to future generations, which in fact was
closely related to damage to the environment. He wrote:
The eff ects upon the eco-system extend, for practical purposes, beyond the
limits of all foreseeable historical time. The half-life of one of the by-products
of nuclear explosion 每 plutonium 239 每 is over twenty-thousand years. With a
major nuclear exchange it would require several of these &half-life* periods before
the residuary radioactivity becomes minimal . . . At any level of discourse, it
would be safe to pronounce that no generation is entitled, for whatever purpose,
to infl ict such damage on succeeding generations. The Court as the principal
organ of the United Nations, empowered to state and apply international law
with an authority to match by no other tribunal must, in its jurisprudence, pay
due recognition to rights of future generations. If there is any tribunal than can
recognise and protect their interests under the law, it is this Court. It is to be
noted in this context that the rights of future generations have passed the stage
when they were merely an embryonic rights struggling for recognition. They
have woven themselves into international law through major treaties, through
juristic opinion and through general principles of law recognised by civilised
nations . . . All of these expressly incorporate the principle of protecting the
natural environment for future generations, and elevate the concept to the level
of binding state obligation.126
This statement of Judge Weeramantry will be commented upon below.
Judge Weeramantry has proved to be a staunch supporter of the Court
125 A.E. Boyle, &Review of the Book of Brown-Weiss*, 40 ICLQ (1991) 230, at 230.
126 Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion of 8 July
1996 [1996] ICJ Rep. 429, at 492 et seq.; he gives numerous examples of the treaties which
include an element of &future generations*, such as the 1972 London Convention, the 1973
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (the CITES)
and the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 145
regarding its role towards future generations, in particular the Court as the
trustee of future generations.
Apart from the critical comments relating to the philosophical foundations
of Brown Weiss* theory, practical diffi culties are encountered as far as
questions of implementation or enforcement are concerned. Brown Weiss
relies on parallels with national institutions in these matters, a methodological
approach which, as a matter of principle, often lends itself to serious
criticism. She particularly favours the appointment of an ombudsman,
who would represent future generations in international negotiations, as
well as in the proceedings before the Court in a case of breach of trust.
In particular the role of a negotiator for future generations in such an
international context appeared to be widely assumed to be impractical.127
It is rather diffi cult to envisage (if not improbable) that such an ombudsman
would have a strong negotiating position, faced with frequently
insurmountable diffi culties concerning the negotiation of international
environmental agreements on present issues as well as already existing and
various, often irreconcilable, diff erences. The standing of such an ombudsman
representing unborn generations in judicial proceedings is somewhat
dubious as well. In general, the legal position of unborn generations is very
controversial. As was clearly evidenced by the Oposa case certain legal
issues identifi ed by Judge Feliciano remain unresolved (such as the locus
standi of unborn generations and the problem of the legal interest and the
cause of action).
As it was pointed out above, the Nauru case is an example of the presence
of both elements of the Brown Weiss theory, i.e. corrective and
distributive justice (intergenerational justice and trust). The Trusteeship
Agreement for the Territory of Nauru was approved by the General
Assembly in 1947. The key provision of this Agreement (Article 3) was
to impose on the Administering Committee an obligation to administer
in such a way as to achieve a basic objective of the International
Trusteeship system, as set out in Article 76 of the UN Charter. Article 5
of the Agreement made direct reference to present and future generations
of Nauru:128
127 See, e.g., P.W. Birnie, &International Environmental Law; Its Adequacy for Present
and Future Needs*, in A. Hurrell and B. Kingsbury (eds), The International Politics of the
Environment: Actors, Interests and Institutions (1992) 51, at 72.
128 As noted above, the nature of the trusteeship agreement was already analysed by
Redgwell. Suffi ce it to say that, as observed in the Memorial presented on behalf on Nauru:
&[t]here can be no doubt that the principle established during the United Nations
Conference on International Organisation, and embodied in Article 76 of the Charter, was
146 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The Administering Authority undertakes that in the discharge of its obligations
under Article 3 of this Agreement . . . it will, in accordance with its established
policy: (a) take into consideration the customs and usages of the inhabitants
of Nauru and respect the rights and safeguard the interests, both present and
future, of the indigenous inhabitants of the Territory; and in particular ensure
that no rights over the native land in favour of any person not an indigenous
inhabitant of Nauru may be created or transferred except with the consent of
the competent public authority.129
We may say that the alleged depletion of the natural resources of Nauru
interfered with the rights of future generations:130
the resources were there, but as a result of a deliberate policy they were not made
available, and consequently the advances made, for example in education, were
not related to the legal entitlement of the Nauruan community to access to the
fi nancial benefi ts of the phosphate industry. Political and economic advancement
would have provided access to those benefi ts and a proportionate increase
in expenditure on education and other services.131
The case indeed involved many issues which have a bearing on generations
to come, such as special funds established to secure the rights of
present and future generations of Nauruan peoples. These funds were as
follows:
1. for the resettlement of the Nauruan population;
2. for the royalties paid to the long-term trust funds;
3. for the transfer of the phosphate operation; and
4. for the rehabilitation of the worked-out land.132
Trust funds provided for under the Trusteeship Agreement were meant
to secure the future &in terms of foreseeable long-term needs*,133 whilst,
based on the broad concept of trusteeship refl ecting the general institutions of guardianship
and curatorship.*
Case Concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia), Memorial of
the Republic of Nauru, para. 263, text available online at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/
fi les/80/6655.pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
129 Memorial of the Republic of Nauru, supra note 128, at para. 394.
130 Ibid., at para. 393.
131 Ibid.
132 Case Concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia), Oral
Proceedings, Preliminary Objections, Public sitting held on Monday 11 November 1991, at 10
a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Sir Robert Jennings presiding, CR1991/15, Oral pleadings
of Mr Arechaga, at 36每37; text available online at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/fi les/80/5769.
pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
133 Memorial of the Republic of Nauru, supra note 128, at para. 371.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 147
according to Brown Weiss* theory, all arrangements were made to be applicable
to abstract future generations, not defi ned by or confi ned to any time
parameters. As Mr Keke said during oral pleadings, &[a]ll this clearly shows
how vital a role income from phosphate plays in the current and future
requirements of the Nauruan economy*134 and that:
Nauruans are very much attached to their lands. Their customary law determines
the nature and extent of land rights and their transmission upon the
death of a landowner. Even the extent of which is fully recognized in the courts.
Ownership to land and ownership to phosphate are indivisible and indistinguishable.
To an ordinary Nauruan, income from phosphate is part and parcel
of the land, as it arises from the land. In the same sense, the funds held by the
Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust are closely intertwined with this concept of
ownership to phosphate land.135
However, the exploitation of phosphates resulted in environmental
and land degradation, which again has an impact on future generations.
Therefore it was necessary to introduce the rehabilitation process (the
establishment of the Rehabilitation Fund), which was one of the contentious
issues in this case. In fact it was noted in the Applicant*s Memorial
that:
Given the extremely recalcitrant environment created by phosphate mining
in Nauru, the extensive character of the mining, the fact that the homeland of
the indigenous people of Nauru has been threatened in terms of its physical
integrity, and the fact that the Nauruans have a very strong sense of national
identity, the failure to make provisions for rehabilitation represents at once a
serious aff ront to the vital interests of Nauru, a major drawback to the condition
of independent statehood, and also a threat to the future economic needs
of the people of Nauru. Consequently, the context of phosphate mining is not
comparable with the normal context of the rehabilitation of land aff ected by
mining operations.136
However, the standing of future (unborn) generations before the
International Court of Justice poses the same unresolved problems as
standing before the national courts (as evidenced by the Minors Oposa
case). There are several legal issues which constitute a serious obstacle to
134 Case Concerning Certain Phosphate Lands in Nauru (Nauru v. Australia), Oral
Proceedings, Preliminary Objections, Oral Arguments on the Preliminary Objections 每 Public
sitting held on Friday 15 November 1991, at 10 a.m., at the Peace Palace, President Sir Robert
Jennings presiding, CR1991/18, Oral pleadings of Mr Keke at 21; text available online at:
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/fi les/80/5775.pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
135 Ibid., at 22.
136 Memorial of the Republic of Nauru, supra note 128, at para. 489.
148 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
the practical application of this concept. On what legal grounds can the
interests of unborn generations be put forward? Is it in the form of surrogates
who represent future interests in negotiations; or perhaps trustees with
the locus standi to represent the interests of future generations in judicial
proceedings?137 Standing of trustees, it has been suggested, may be based on
the actio popularis or on obligations erga omnes. The diffi culties, however,
with this basis for standing in judicial proceedings, at least before the ICJ, are
currently impossible to circumvent. This concept not only suff ers from, as it
seems, insurmountable procedural problems, but it also does not have a clear
normative content. As Lowe observes, the ensuing duty of States to preserve
the environment for future generations is also very fuzzy and lacking ways in
which duties would be distributed between States in a manner which would
secure the interests of future generations equally in all States. At present
international law does not have such a suitable mechanism.
VIII. FUTURE GENERATIONS IN
CONSTITUTIONAL AND NATIONAL
CONTEXTS
A. Constitutional Context
Several constitutions of various States contain the provisions referring
to future generations. Tremmel is of the view that this is one of the
manifestations of intergenerational justice.138 He distinguished three
types of clauses relating to intergenerational justice: general clauses,139
137 J.C. Wood, &Intergenerational Equity and Climate Change*, 8 Geo. Int*l Envtl.L. Rev.
(1996) 297, at 302每303; see similarly V. Lowe, who says as follows: &[b]lur the implications
of trusteeship have not been drawn out. Who are the benefi ciaries? What are their rights of
action? What are the duties of the trustees?*: V. Lowe, supra note 67, at 27.
138 Tremmel, supra note 51, at 187每229.
139 Ibid., at 191. There are several examples of such clauses: Poland: Preamble to the
Constitution: &Recalling the best traditions of the First and the Second Republic, obliged
to bequeath to future generations all that is valuable from our over one thousand years*
heritage*; Switzerland: Preamble to the Federal Constitution: &In the name of God Almighty!
Whereas, we are mindful of our responsibility towards creation; . . . are conscious of our
common achievements and our responsibility towards future generations; . . .*; Estonia:
Preamble,
Unwavering in their faith and with an unswerving will to safeguard and develop a
state;[. . .]which shall serve to protect internal and external peace and provide security for
the social progress and general benefi t of present and future generations; . . . the Estonian
people adopted . . . the following Constitution ;
Tremmel, supra note 51, at 192.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 149
ecological generational justice140 and fi nancial generational justice.141
Tremmel approaches intergenerational justice extensively as he also
140 Numerous constitutions contain such clauses, e.g.: Argentina, Article 41, clause 1:
&All inhabitants are entitled to the right to a healthy and balanced environment fi t for
human development in order that productive activities shall meet present needs without
endangering those of future generations; and shall have the duty to preserve it. As a fi rst
priority, environmental damage shall bring about the obligation to repair in according to
law.*
Czech Republic, Article 7: &The State shall attend to a prudent utilisation of natural
resources and to protection of national wealth*;
Germany, Article 20a
&Mindful also of its responsibility toward future generations, the State shall protect the
natural bases of life by legislation and, in accordance with law and justice, by executive
and judicial action, all within framework of the constitutional order;*
Poland, Article 74 Clause 1 of the Constitution: &Public authorities shall pursue policies
ensuring the ecological security of current and future generations*; Sweden, Chapter 1, Article
4: &The public institutions shall promote sustainable development leading to a good environment
for present and future generations*; South Africa:
&Everyone has the right a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing;
and b) to have the environment protected, for the benefi t of present and future
generations, through reasonable legislature and other measures that prevent pollution
and ecological degradation, promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable
development and use of natural resources while promoting justifi able economic and social
development;*
Hungary, Article 15: &The Republic of Hungary recognises and shall implement the individual*s
right to a healthy environment*.
141 These are, e.g., the following: Estonia, Article 116:
&Proposed amendments to the national budget or to its draft, which require a decrease
in income, an increase of expenditures, as prescribed in the draft national budget, must
be accompanied by the necessary fi nancial calculations, prepared by the initiators, which
indicate the sources of income to cover the proposed expenditures;*
Germany, Article 109, clause 2: &In managing their respective budgets, the Federation and
the Länder shall take due account of the requirements of the overall economic equilibrium*
and Article 115:
&Revenue obtained by borrowing shall not exceed the total of investment expenditures
provided for the budget; exceptions shall be permissible only to avert a disturbance of the
overall economic equilibrium. Details shall be regulated by a federal law;*
Poland, Article 216, clause 5:
&It shall be neither permissible to contract loans not provide guarantees and fi nancial sureties
which would engender a national public debt exceeding three-fi fths of the value of the
annual gross product. The method for calculating the value of the annual gross domestic
product and national public debt shall be specifi ed by statute.*
150 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
includes the right to a clean environment in the same category. In
his very thorough survey of constitutions he refers as well e.g. to the
Constitution of Hungary, Article 15 of which states as follows: &[t]he
Republic of Hungary recognises and shall implement the individual*s
right to a healthy environment*. The Constitution of South Africa
includes both the human right to a clean environment, and generational
justice.142 There are a growing number of constitutions in which such a
right is justiciable and enforceable. The leading country in this respect is
South Africa, where the Constitutional right to a clean environment is
directly justiciable and belongs to economic, social and cultural rights.
The South African Constitution also provides for a human right to food
and water.143 Both rights were the subject of several judgments of the
Constitutional Court of South Africa. However, the judgments referred
to human rights of existing individuals, not future generations.144 The
Minors Oposa case is the only existing example of a case in which the
constitutional right to a clean environment and intergenerational justice
converged. All other attempts to follow the example of the Oposa case
failed. Therefore, it may be observed that, even if we accept the view
that the general constitutional right to a clean environment has an
intergenerational element, its application by the courts refers only to the
individual environmental (human) rights which were the subject of the
court*s proceedings.
The concept of sustainable development has an intergenerational aspect,
which constitutes an indispensable element of the classical Brundland
defi nition: &development that meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs*. It is
142 See in depth on the issue of constitutional human rights, T. Hayward, Constitutional
Environmental Rights (2005) and E. Brandl and H. Bungert, &Constitutional Entrenchment
of Environmental Protection: A Comparative Analysis of Experiences Abroad*, 16 Harvard
Environmental Law Review (1992) 1, at 1每100.
143 Article 27 Health care, food, water and social security
1. Everyone has the right to have access to
a. health care services, including reproductive health care;
b. suffi cient food and water; and
c. social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their
dependants, appropriate social assistance.
2. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available
resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights.
3. No one may be refused emergency medical treatment
144 See, e.g., Republic of South Africa v. Grootboom Case, CCT/11/00.2000 (11) BCLR
1169, Constitutional Court of South Africa, 4 October 2000. On the case see J. Fitzpatrick
and R.C. Slye, &International Decisions*, 97 AJIL (2003) 669, at 669每73.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 151
also included in several Constitutions.145 The constitutional eff ectiveness of
these provisions also raises doubts. In Poland it remains a general political
statement, and in France its eff ectiveness cannot be assessed at present, as
the passage of some time will be required before it can be judged.146 Bourg
asserts that the 2004 Environmental Charter will be &either eff ective rapidly
or not eff ective all, given the relative urgency of addressing our ecological
impasses*.147 The same author further assesses the eff ectiveness of the
Charter in the light of the French procedure for referring a matter to the
Constitutional Council, which is very restrictive (a law can be submitted
only before it is promulgated and referral requires the signatures of at least
60 members of the parliament). Bourg therefore rightly observes that &[t]he
potentially remedial role of a text such as the Charter under such conditions
is virtually inexistent, unless one counts on the ecological vigilance of 60
parliamentarians, which for the moment is nonexistent*.148
The constitutional role of sustainable development in an intergenerational
concept has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In Poland it is
a very general concept, which cannot be applied solely on the basis of the
Constitution. However, as will be shown, in Israel the situation is diff erent
to a certain extent.149
The rights of future generations can be protected through institutions, as
for example the Commission for Future Generations in the Knesset (Israeli
Parliament), which has rather broad competence.150 This Commission has
the powers to examine each legislative act wherever there is a suspicion of
possible prejudice to future generations. The Commission has been granted
two major authorities: the authority to demand information from any controlled
establishment under the State Comptroller Act and the authority to
145 Constitution of Poland: Article 5 says:
&The Republic of Poland shall safeguard the independence and integrity of its territory
and ensure the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens, the security of the citizens,
safeguard the national heritage and shall ensure the protection of the natural environment
pursuant to the principles of sustainable development;*
Article 6 of the 2004 Environmental Charter (law passed in 2005 by the Parliament, which
the amendment to the Constitution of France): &Public policies shall promote sustainable
development. To this end, the reconcile protection and utilisation of the environment, economic
development and social progress.*
146 D. Bourg, &The French Constitutional Charter for the Environment: an Eff ective
Instrument?*, in J.C. Tremmel (ed.), Handbook of Intergenerational Justice (2006) 230, at
235, supra note 2.
147 Ibid., at 239.
148 Ibid., at 239每40.
149 S. Shoham and N. Lamay, &Commission for Future Generations*, in Tremmel (ed.),
supra note 2, 244, at 244每79.
150 Ibid., at 247 et seq.
152 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
request a parliamentary committee which discusses a bill to take into consideration
the position presented by the Commissioner.151 The main task
of the Commission is to defi ne who the future generations are.152 It must
be noted that the terms &future generations* and &special interest of future
generations* were not defi ned in the bill establishing the Commission.
The Commission established its role as the protector of the current generation
of children. According to Shoham and Lamay, the &Commission
preferred to consider future generation as the next baby to be born
tomorrow morning, a defi nition that relates to the immediate future generation,
consisting of currently existing children*.153 The concept of the
special interest of future generations proved to be a diffi cult issue to settle.
Eventually, sustainable development was adopted by the Commission
as the conceptual platform for the defi ning of the term.154 On the initiative
of the Commission, a new legislative process was set in motion to
make sustainable development a protected constitutional right.155 The
concept of future generations penetrated all levels of governance due to
the activities of the Commission. In the words of Shoham and Lamay,
&[t]he Commission*s most crucial role is thus to create enabling frameworks
and to pass on values and knowledge as a diff erent dimension of ※thinking
future§*.156
The Commission for Future Generations in the Knesset is a revolutionary
body, the fi rst of this type in the world. However, it must be observed
that it protects the rights of existing children and those of successive
generations of children 每 &the next baby born tomorrow*. Therefore, its
intergenerational aspect is rather limited. It may be observed, however,
that attempts to establish the Ombudsman for Future Generations in other
151 Ibid., at 247.
152 Ibid., at 251. The 2001 Knesset Law (Amendment on the Commission for Future
Generations) set out as follows the role of the Commissioner for Future Generations:
&i. Will give his assessment of bills debated in the Knesset which he considers to have
particular relevance for future generations; ii. Will give his assessment of secondary legislation
brought for authorisation of one of the Knesset Committees or for consultation with
one of the Knesset committees, which he considers to have special relevance for future
generations; iii. Will present reports to the Knesset from time to time, at his discretion,
with recommendations on issues with particular relevance for future generations; iv. Will
advise MK on issues with particular relevance for future generations; v. Will present to the
Knesset, once a year, a report on his activities in accordance with this law.*
Cited in Shoham/Lamay, supra note 149, at 265.
153 Ibid., at 252.
154 Ibid., at 254.
155 Ibid., at 255.
156 Ibid., at 262.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 153
countries, such as Hungary, were not met with success, and reasons of a
diff erent nature, both political and economic were put forward against
such an organ.157
B. The Marshall Islands Funds and Claims Tribunal: General Framework
An example of the intergenerational approach may possibly be found in
the nexus of agreements and arrangements in certain national and international
legal instruments relating to the Marshall Islands,158 not a widely
known fact. The intergenerational aspect of nuclear testing was raised by
Judge Weeramantry in his Dissenting Opinion in the 1995 Nuclear Test
Case II.159 He said:
The case before the Court raises, as no case ever before the Court has done,
the principle of intergenerational equity 每 an important and rapidly developing
principle of international law . . . [I]f the damage of this kind alleged has
been infl icted on the environment by the people of the Stone Age, it would be
with us today. Having regard to the information before us that the half-life of a
radioactive by-product of nuclear tests can extend to over 20,000 years, this is
an important aspect that international tribunal cannot fail to notice. In a matter
of which it is duly seised, this Court must regard itself as a trustee of those rights
in the sense that a domestic court is a trustee of the interests of an infant unable
to speak for itself . . . New Zealand*s complaint that its rights are aff ected does
not relate only to the rights of people presently in existence. The rights of the
people of New Zealand include the rights of unborn posterity. Those are the
rights which a nation is entitled, and indeed obliged, to protect.160
The majority of these arrangements relate to the long-lasting eff ects of
nuclear testing and their impact on present and future generations. In the
157 See on this in depth B. Javor, &Institutional Protection of Succeeding Generations
每 Ombudsman for Future Generations in Hungary*, in Tremmel (ed.), supra note 2, 282, at
282每98.
158 The Marshall Islands (offi cial name the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) ) is a
Micronesian nation in the western Pacifi c Ocean located north of Nauru and Kiribati, east of
the Federated States of Micronesia. The country consists of 29 atolls and 5 isolated islands.
The RMI is governed by the mixed parliamentary每presidential system. The legislature of
the RMI the so called &Nitijela*, is bi-cameral. The upper house of the Nitijela (the so-called
Council of Iroij) is an advisory body comprising 12 tribal chiefs. The executive branch consists
of the President and the Presidential Cabinet (10 minsters appointed by the President with
the approval of the Nitijel.
159 Nuclear Tests Case II, supra note 121, at 288; Nuclear Tests Case II, (Dissenting
Opinion of Judge Weeramantry), supra note 121, at 341; see also Nuclear Tests Cases
(Australia v. France) and (New Zealand v. France), Judgment of 20 December 1974 [1974]
ICJ Rep. 253, at 253每74.
160 Nuclear Tests Case II (Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry), supra note 121,
at 341.
154 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
territory of the Marshall Islands, the United States conducted its Nuclear
Testing Programme which resulted in 67 atmospheric nuclear tests in
the period from 30 June 1946 to 18 August 1958.161 It may be noted
that during this period the US was a Trustee under the United Nations
Trusteeship Agreement. After the Marshall Islands gained independence,
the 1986 Compact of Free Association (the Compact) was concluded
between the United States and the Republic of Marshall Islands (the
RMI) as an independent State,162 after the conclusion of the Trusteeship
Agreement, under which the US acted as a Trustee on behalf of the
Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. One of the provisions of
this agreement was to, inter alia, protect the health of the inhabitants of
the Marshall Islands and to protect them against the loss of their lands
and resources.163 Most of the nuclear testing was conducted by the US
during the period of the Trusteeship Agreement.164 In implementation
of the Compact, the US and the RMI concluded 14 agreements on the
basis of which the US pledged to provide vast economic assistance for
the RMI, and the RMI in turn consented to the US keeping its military
bases and installations on the territory of the RMI.165 The Compact of
Free Association provided for two forms of compensation: under the
legal settlement (the establishment of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal is the
legal settlement) and ex gratia.
Section 177 of the Compact of Free Association (hereinafter &Section 177
Agreement*) forms the basis of this agreement and reads:
161 The most powerful of those tests was the &Bravo* shot, a 15 megaton device
detonated on 1 March 1954 at Bikini atoll. This test was equivalent to 1000 Hiroshima
bombs, and the total yield of all 67 tests was 108 megatons 每 the equivalent of more than
7000 Hiroshima bombs. Although the number of tests conducted in the Marshall Islands
represents only about 14% of all US tests, the yield of the tests in the Marshalls comprised
nearly 80% of the atmospheric total detonated by the US: see the Nuclear Claims
Tribunal website: http://www.nuclearclaimstribunal.com/testing.htm#testlist (last visited
on 6 December 2007).
162 Compact of Free Association (included in US Pub. Law 99-239, Compact of Free
Assoc. Act of 1985, 48 USC 1681 note. 59 Stat. 1031 and amended in 2003). It includes the following
titles: Title 1: Governmental Relations; Title 2: Economic Relations; Title 3: Security
and Defence Relations; and Title 4: General Provisions.
163 Trusteeship Agreement for the former Japanese Mandated Islands, 8 UNTS (1947)
189.
164 D. Thornburgh et al., &The Nuclear Claims Tribunal of the Republic of the Marshall
Islands: An Independent Examination and Assessment of Its Decision-Making Process*
(2003), at 9, available online at: http://www.bikiniatoll.com/ThornburgReport.pdf (last
visited on 6 December 2007); in response to the US Government concerns that the Nuclear
Claims Tribunal (NCT) was operating without transparency, the RMI Government in 2002
asked the former US General Attorney General, Richard Thornburgh, independently to
assess the procedures of the NCT.
165 Thornburgh et al., supra note 164, at 9.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 155
the US recognized the contributions and sacrifi ces made by the people of the
Marshall Islands in regard to the Nuclear Testing Program and accepted the
responsibility for compensation owing to citizens of the Marshall Islands for
loss or damage to property and person resulting from that testing.166
In the view of the present author this Agreement has an intergenerational
aspect to it.
In general terms, via the Section 177 Agreement, the United States provided
to the Marshall Islands the sum of US $150 million as a fi nancial
settlement for the damage caused by the nuclear testing programme. That
money was used to create a fund intended to generate US $270 million
for distribution over a 15-year period with average annual proceeds of
approximately US $18 million per year. These funds were distributed
among the peoples of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik for medical
and radiological monitoring and the payment of claims. The Section 177
Agreement also provided for the establishment of a Claims Tribunal with
jurisdiction to:
render fi nal determination upon all claims past, present and future, of the
Government, citizens and nationals of the Marshall Islands which are based on,
arise out of, or are in any way related to the Nuclear Testing Program.167
The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal was established in 1988.
The Tribunal compensated the following: personal injuries deemed to have
resulted from the nuclear testing programme (the 1991 programme which
resulted by the end of 2003 in the award of more than US $83 million,
with additional compensatable claims are being fi led on a regular basis)
and property damage awards in class actions by the people of Enewetak
Atoll and the people of Bikini Atoll. The pending property claims from the
peoples of Rongelap and Utrik Atolls near completion, while the people
of Ailuk Atoll have recently fi led a class action claim for compensation.
During the fi rst 15 years of the Compact only US $45.75 million were made
available for the actual payment of awards, and less than US $6 million
of the initial US $150 million now remained in the Nuclear Claims Fund.
Therefore &it has become clear that the original terms of the settlement
agreement are manifestly inadequate*.168
166 See http://www.nuclearclaimstribunal.com (last visited on 6 July 2008); this Agreement
was concluded for a period of 15 years (1986每2001), which included provision for an extension
for a two-year renegotiation period up until 2003.
167 Ibid.
168 Ibid.
156 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
1. Agreement for the Implementation of Section 177 of the Compact of
Free Association (hereinafter &Section 177 Agreement*)
The generational aspect of the Section 177 Agreement is already evident in
its Preamble, which states as follows:
In recognition of the authority and responsibility of the Government of the
Marshall Islands to provide medical and health care to all of the people of the
Marshall Islands; and the expressed desire of the Government of the Marshall
Islands to include in its integrated, comprehensive and universal medical healthcare
system, the health-care and surveillance programs and radiological monitoring
activities contemplated in United States Public Law 95每134 and United
States Public Law 96每205; In recognition of the authority and responsibility of
the Government of the Marshall Islands to provide for the welfare of all the
people of the Marshall Islands; and the expressed desire of the Government of
the Marshall Islands to create and maintain, in perpetuity, a means to address
past, present and future consequences of the Nuclear Testing Program, including
the resolution of resultant claims; and In recognition of contributions and
sacrifi ces made by the people of the Marshall Islands in regard to the Nuclear
Testing Program.169
The Preamble refers not only to claims resulting from nuclear tests but
also to &future consequences of the Nuclear Testing Programme* and to the
general welfare of the people of the Marshall Islands. Article 1 of Section 1
of the Section 177 Agreement creates a fund (hereinafter &the Fund*):
In fulfi lment of its obligations under Section 177 of the Compact, the Government
of the United States shall provide to the Government of the Marshall Islands, on
the eff ective date of this Agreement, the sum of $150 million to create a fund.
The above amount was the principal and the investment returns on the
Fund were expected to generate US $270 million, in the period between
1986 and 2001.
The generational aspect of the Fund is conf,i rmed by Article 1 Section
2 (Management), according to which it was created &in furtherance of the
desire of the Government of the Marshall Islands to provide, in perpetuity,
a means to address past, present and future consequences of the Nuclear
Testing Program*.170 The Fund is regulated by the following strict fi nancial
framework:
169 Preamble to the 177 Agreement, available online at: http://www.nuclearclaimstribunal.
com (last visited on 6 December 2007).
170 Ibid., Article 1 Section 2. Prior to the establishment of the Tribunal, 14 diff erent
groups of litigants on behalf of approximately 5000 inhabitants of the Marshall Islands
brought cases before the Court of Claims against the United States to recover damages which
purported to result from the Nuclear Testing Programme. Claims were also brought to the
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 157
(a) The Government of the Marshall Islands shall cause the Fund to be
invested with the performance goal of producing for each year of the existence
of the Fund average annual proceeds of at least $18 million (Annual
Proceeds) for disbursement in accordance with this Agreement
(b) The Government of the Marshall Islands, in order to achieve the performance
goal of the Fund, shall retain as trustee and manager of the Fund
(Fund Manager) a United States investment management company which
has demonstrated substantial experience in the administration of trusts
and which has funds under management in excess of $1 billion. The Fund
Manager shall make disbursements in accordance with the provisions of
this Agreement to the designated recipients in the name of &The Republic
of the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Fund*.
(c) The Fund shall be invested in bonds, notes and other instruments of
investment grade and of United States nationality, including both debt
and equity issues, common or preferred stocks, money market funds,
certifi cates of indebtedness and mutual funds. The Government of the
United States shall impose no transaction fee or intermediary charge
on the investment of the Fund in instruments of the Government of the
United States.
(d) Except as may be otherwise required by this Agreement and to achieve its
desire to provide a perpetual means of addressing the special needs and
unique circumstances of the people of the Marshall Islands resulting from
the Nuclear Testing Program, the Government of the Marshall Islands
shall not permit nor shall the Fund Manager make disbursements from
the Fund.
(e) For purposes of taxation only, the trust into which the Fund is placed
pursuant to this Article shall be deemed to be a charitable trust under the
laws of the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.171
Court from the inhabitants of the atolls of Bikini and Enewetak, as well as inhabitants of
atolls and islands which were not used for atomic testing. The cases were suspended pending
the negotiation of the Compact of Free Association. Finally, the Court of Claims concluded
that in light of the Section 177 Agreement, it was premature to decide on the arguments
presented by both parties, and the issue whether the alternative procedures provided by the
Congress were adequate would depend on the amount and type of compensation. Due to the
withdrawal by Congress of the jurisdiction of the Court, the case was dismissed by the Court:
see in detail T. Lum et al., &Republic of the Marshall Islands Changed Circumstances Petition
to Congress*, CRS Report for Congress, 14 March 2005, at 33每37, available online at: http://
www.bikiniatoll.com/CRSreportCCP.pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
171 Ibid. Article II Section 1 (Health, Food, Agricultural Maintenance and Radiological
Surveillance) specifi es the distribution of Annual Proceeds:
&The Fund Manager shall disburse Annual Proceeds in accordance with Article III of this
Agreement and as follows: (a) $30 million to the Government of the Marshall Islands, to
be disbursed in annual amounts of $2 million for the l5-year period commencing one calendar
quarter after the eff ective date of this Agreement. The Government of the Marshall
Islands shall use these sums to obtain technical assistance, on a reimbursable basis,
from the United States Public Health Service and other agencies of the Government of
the United States. The Government of the United States shall provide such technical
assistance including United States contractor services to assist the Government of the
Marshall Islands to include, in its health-care system, health-care programs and services
158 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
However, the funds provided in connection with the establishment and
functioning of the Tribunal were rather limited.172
According to Article III Section I much of the trust fund was allocated
directly to Local Distribution Authorities (the LDAs) for the benefi t of
related to consequences of the Nuclear Testing Program and contemplated in United
States Public Law 95-134 and United States Public Law 96-205. Such technical assistance
shall be obtained in accordance with Section 226 of the Compact, the provisions of the
Federal Programs and Services Agreement and such separate implementing agreements
as may from time to time be concluded. Such technical assistance shall, at the request of
the Government of the Marshall Islands, include a whole body counter and the training
of its operator. The whole body counter shall be located in a suitable facility chosen
and supplied by the Government of the Marshall Islands. The Technical assistance provided
for in this subsection may include professional personnel services and dosimetry
and bioassay services (b) Annual disbursements specifi ed in this Section are in addition
to the funds referred to in Section 211 (a) (3), 216 (a) (2) and 211 (b) of the Compact,
which may also be expended by the Government of the Marshall Islands to provide
its citizens with health-care programs and services elated (sic) to consequences of the
Nuclear Testing Program. (c) The Government of the Marshall Islands may dedicate
any part of the annual disbursements specifi ed in this Section to the fi nancing, including
matching fi nancing, of other related health-care and research programs and services of
the Government of the United States which are otherwise available to the Government
of the Marshall Islands. (d) At the request of the Government of the Marshall Islands,
the Government of the United States shall provide technical assistance, programs and
services, on a reimbursable basis, to continue the planting and agriculture maintenance
program on Enewetak and to continue the food programs of the Bikini people and
Enewetak people for as long as such technical assistance, programs and services may
be required. Such technical assistance, programs and services shall be obtained in
accordance with Section 226 of the Compact, the provisions of the Federal Programs
and Services Agreement and such separate implementing agreements as may from time
to time be concluded (e) $3 million to the Government of the Marshall Islands for the
purpose of the conducting medical surveillance and radiological monitoring activities,
to be disbursed in average annual amounts of $l million for the three-year period commencing
on the eff ective date of this Agreement. The results of such medical surveillance
and radiological monitoring activities shall be fi led with the Claims Tribunal referred to
in Article IV of this Agreement.*
Lum et al., supra note 170, at 33每7. There were diff erent fi nancial schemes for the people of
Bikini; people of Enewetak; people of Rongelap and the people of Utrik.
172 &(a) $500,000 to the Government of the Marshall Islands to provide for the establishment
of the Claims Tribunal, to be disbursed prior to the fi rst anniversary of the
eff ective date of this Agreement. (b) $500,000 annually to the Claims Tribunal during the
term of its existence for its operation, to be disbursed in quarterly amounts of $125,000
commencing one calendar quarter after the fi rst anniversary of the eff ective date of this
Agreement.
(c) $45.75 million to be made available to the Claims Tribunal as necessary for whole or
partial payment of monetary awards made by the Claims Tribunal pursuant to Article IV
of this Agreement, to be disbursed in annual amounts of up to $2.25 million for the 3-year
period commencing on the eff ective date of this Agreement, and in annual amounts of up
to $3.25 million for the 12-year period commencing on the third anniversary of the eff ective
date of this Agreement;*
Lum et al., supra note 170, at 33每7.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 159
the peoples of Bikini/Kili, Enewetak/Ujelang, Rongelap and Utrik. The
local government council for Bikini/Kili, Enewetak/Ujelang, Rongelap
and Utrik were to be the distribution authority for the people of Bikini,
Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik, respectively. Each distribution authority,
as set out in this Agreement, was to receive and distribute, invest, or
otherwise expend annual proceeds. Under the Section 177 Agreement was
allocated US $75 million of the Trust Fund to Bikini.173
2. The Nuclear Claims Tribunal
The Tribunal has a two-fold jurisdiction: fi rst, the jurisdiction based on
Article IV Section 1, according to which the Claims Tribunal has jurisdiction
to give a fi nal determination on all claims past, present and future, of
the Government, citizens and nationals of the Marshall Islands which are
based on, arise out of, or are in any way related to the Nuclear Testing
Programme,174 and, secondly, over disputes arising from distributions of
Trust Fund money by the LDAs under Articles II and III of the Section
177 Agreement. The fi rst type of jurisdiction proved to be contentious.
The Claims Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the United States, its agents,
employees, contractors, citizens or nationals with respect to claims of the
Government, citizens or nationals of the Marshall Islands arising out of the
Nuclear Testing Programme. In the exercise of its jurisdiction, the Claims
173 Section 177 of the Agreement allocated the fund as follows: US $75 million of the
Trust Fund to the Bikini LDA for the payment of claims arising out of the Nuclear Testing
Programme for loss of or damage to property and people of Bikini (to be distributed in quarterly
amounts of US $1.2 million over a 15-year period); US $48.75 million to be distributed
in quarterly amounts of US $812,500 over a 15-year period; US $37.5 million to the Rongelap
to be distributed in quarterly amounts of US $625,000 over a 15-year period; and US $22.5
million to be distributed in quarterly amounts over a 15-year period.
174 See also Articles X and XII. Article X states:
&Espousal (Section 1 每 Full Settlement of All Claims): This Agreement constitutes the
full settlement of all claims, past, present and future, of the Government, citizens and
nationals of the Marshall Islands which are based upon, arise out of, or are in any way
related to the Nuclear Testing Programme, and which are against the United nations, its
agents, employees, contractors and citizens and nationals, and of all claims equitable or
any other relief in connection with such claims including any of those claims which may
be pending or which may be fi led in any court or other judicial or administrative forum,
including the courts of the Marshall Islands and the courts of the United States and its
political subdivisions;*
Article XII states:
&United States Courts: All claims described in Articles X and XI of this Agreement shall
be terminated. No court in the United States shall have the jurisdiction to entertain
such claims, and any such claims pending in the courts of the United States shall be
dismissed.*
160 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Tribunal is independent of the legislative and executive powers of the
Government of the Marshall Islands.175 The Tribunal in determining any
legal issue may have reference to the laws of the Marshall Islands including
traditional law, to international law and, in the absence of domestic or
international law, to the laws of the United States (Article IV Section 3 每
Governing Law). According to the domestic law of the Marshall Islands,
the Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear this claim under section 105(a) of the
Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal Act 1987 (NCTA), as amended,
which gives the Tribunal the duty and responsibility to decide claims by
and disburse compensation to the Government and citizens and nationals
of the Marshall Islands under section 123 for existing and prospective loss
of or damage to person or property which is based on, arises out of or is in
any way related to the Nuclear Testing Programme. The fi rst year of the
Tribunal*s activities was marred by disagreements between the members
of the Nitjela (the Parliament of the RMI) and the Tribunal as regards the
manner of processing the claims.176
Personal injury claims were based on similar US statutory programmes
providing compensation for American civilian and military personnel
deemed to have been harmed by their own country*s nuclear testing programme.
Reference was made to Public Law 101每426 and the Radiation
Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (often referred to as the &Downwinders*
Act*). The US Congress found that fallout emitted from the atmospheric
nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site exposed American civilians
&to radiation that is presumed to have generated an excess of cancers
among those individuals*.177 Following that fi nding, the Congress established
a presumptive programme of compensation for specifi ed diseases
contracted by people who were physically present in the &aff ected area*
during the periods of atmospheric testing in Nevada. The Tribunal determined
that it could do no less for the people of the Marshall Islands than
the Downwinders* Act for American citizens. Accordingly, in August 1991,
175 It has quite broad powers: 1. issuing orders, making rules and promulgating procedural
regulations; 2. providing funds for the operation of special tribunals appointed by
the Tribunal to consider specifi c claims and disputes; 3. establishing and providing funds
for the operation of Tribunal offi ces; 4. establishing and authorizing distribution from
the Operating Fund; 5. establishing and authorizing payments out of the Claims Fund
for monetary awards; 6. issuing orders requiring the Defender of the Fund to investigate
the administration and distribution of Trust Fund monies by the LDAs; 7. issuing orders
suspending any or all distributions by an IDA; and 8. establishing and funding LDAs as
appropriate to carry out the intent of the Act: Section 6 (2) and 6 (4) of the Section 177
Agreement.
176 Thornburgh et al., supra note 164, at 25.
177 See http://www.nuclearclaimstribunal.com/hist.htm (last visited on 12 December
2007).
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 161
the Tribunal adopted its initial compensatable medical condition regulations
providing awards for people:
who had been physically present in the Marshall Islands during the
testing period; and
who had been medically diagnosed as having one of 25 separate
medical conditions (later expanded).178
Due to the lack of all necessary information:
the Tribunal*s presumptive program meets the need for an effi cient, simple, and
cost-eff ective system of resolving personal injury claims where proof of causation
would be impossible given the fact that exposure level information is not
available.179
The generational aspect of the Tribunal is strengthened by the inclusion
in 1994 by the Nitijela in the Tribunal*s personal injury compensation
programme of unborn children of mothers who resided in the Marshall
Islands during the nuclear testing period (the so-called &under* age
Claimants).180 Further, compensation was extended beyond the members
of communities who were likely to be aff ected by radiation (Utrik, Bikini,
Rongelap and Enewetak). Both the RMI and the NCT adopted a broader
position that all 1,958 residents of the RMI would be eligible to fi le claims
for injuries resulting from tests. This approach was contested by the US
Government, who believed that the nuclear testing aff ected only these
four communities, and therefore compensation should be limited to those
four.
Under the Section 177 Agreement, the payment of the awards was
made on the annual pro rata basis. This system was introduced in order
to balance the interests of existing recipients &to receive as much of their
178 Ibid.
179 See http://www.nuclearclaimstribunal.com (last visited on 6 December 2007). Despite
the requests that have been made by the RMI government to the United States, fallout
measurements from the last two series of tests in the Marshall Islands (Operation Redwing in
1956 and Operation Hardtack I in 1958, comprising 50 tests averaging nearly one megaton
each) still remain classifi ed. It may be noted that the total yield of the 67 tests conducted by
the US in the Marshall Islands is approximately 99 times greater than the total yield of the
87 atmospheric tests conducted in Nevada (approximately 108.5 megatons in the Marshall
Islands compared to 1.1 megaton total in Nevada).
180 This was a contentious issue. The Nitijela*s view was that such claimants might have
suff ered presumed medical conditions, including cancer transmitted by parents who were
subject to radiation from the nuclear testing programme: Thornburgh et al., supra note 164,
at 70每71.
162 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
awards as possible with the interests of future recipients to be treated fairly
and equally*.181 The same statement stated further that:
This shortage of funds suggests that there should be no annual payment at all
this year. However, the Tribunal feels it would be unreasonable to completely
stop annual payments on such short notice to existing recipients.182
To this eff ect a small annual payment of 2 per cent of the net amount of
each award was made and the initial payment level was reduced to 25 per
cent for awards issued beginning in October each year.183 It is evident that
this system proved not to be fully successful. As of 31 December 2006,
US $91,402,000 in compensation had been awarded under the Tribunal*s
presumptive personal injury compensation programme to or on behalf
of 1,999 individuals (some of whom received multiple awards because
they suff ered from more than one compensatable medical condition).
Of those 1,999 awardees, more than 1,000 died having received only
part payment of the compensation awarded for their personal injuries.
As of 31 December 2006, a total of US $73,261,198 had actually been
paid to those awardees or their heirs, leaving an unpaid balance of US
$18,140,802. The most dramatic Statement of Determination was issued
by the Tribunal in October 2006, in which it observed that the annual
payment of even l per cent would eff ectively exhaust the Fund, result in
the closure of the Tribunal and the foreclosure of any payments for future
claimants. The Statement also reported the prediction of the US National
Cancer Institute which estimated that more that 500 cancers would result
from exposure to radiation from the testing programmes in the population
present during the testing period (more that half of these cancers would
occur after 2003). The Tribunal made the following statements: &[t]here
will by no pro rata annual payments for personal injury awards in 2006*
and that:
The inability of the Tribunal to fully pay off existing awards and the continuing
fl ow of new claims and awards continues to evidence the manifest inadequacy
of the existing funding provided under the Section 177 Agreement to fully compensate
the people of Marshall Islands for injuries suff ered as a result of the
Nuclear Testing Programme.
181 Statement of Determination, 30 September 1996, available online at: http://www.
nuclearclaimstribunal.com (last visited on 6 December 2007). The 1997 Statement of
Determination confi rmed the general policy on payments and further reduced the rates of
payments.
182 Ibid.
183 Ibid.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 163
And fi nally:
It is clear that such fi nal determination had not yet be made. But it is equally
clear that the determination already reached by the Tribunal render the provision
of the Section 177 Agreement &manifestly inadequate*.184
The future work of the Tribunal will be carried out under the &Changed
Circumstances* provision of the Section 177 Agreements.
The Tribunal issued two landmark claims: fi rst in 1999, the family of a
Bikini boy who died of cancer at the age of 11 was awarded a full claim for
his illness; and in the second, 2000, award to the people of Enewetak US
$341 million for property brought on the basis of a class action.185 Property
loss and damage claims had diff erent legal issues from personal injury
claims, as the Tribunal observed that liability and causation were not issues
pertaining to property damage claims, as it was not disputed that the US
nuclear testing programme had caused the damage to the land. Therefore
such clams were the subject of an adversarial approach. The issue to be
decided was the determination and measure of damages.186 What was
ground-breaking was the fi rst class action fi led before the Tribunal on
behalf of the Enewetak community in 1990. The award in favour of this
community was made in 2000. The Tribunal issued the Memorandum of
Decision and Order in the Enewetak class action.187 The decision addressed
the three categories of damage sought by the claimants: 1. the loss of use
of their property; 2. the cost of restoring and repairing their property; and
3. the hardship suff ered by the Enewetak people during their forced relocation.
The damages for loss certainly refl ect future generations as they
not only accounted for the past loss (starting on 12 December 1947) and
running until the eff ective date of valuation in 1996, but also for the future
loss, beginning on the date of valuation and continuing until such future
time as the aff ected property was returned to the people of Enewetak in a
usable condition. This time was determined by the parties as 30 years from
the eff ective date of the valuation or 17 May 2026.188 The Tribunal awarded
the Claimants US $149 million for past use and US $50,154,000 for future
184 Ibid.
185 J.M. Walsh, &Political Review 每 Micronesia*, Contemporary Pacifi c (Spring/2001), at
215每16.
186 Thornburgh et al., supra note 164, at 39.
187 In the Matter of the People of Enewetak, et al., NCT No. 23-902, Memorandum
Decision and Order, 15 April 2000.
188 Ibid., at 6.
164 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
lost use.189 The peoples of Enewetak were also awarded US $34 million in
damages for the hardship they suff ered during their relocation to Ujelang.
The Tribunal awarded an annual amount for each person from Enewetak
who lived in Ujelang during each of 33 years between 1947 and 1980. 190
By 2000, the RMI Government had concluded that the Trust Fund had
become &manifestly inadequate*191 to provide compensation under the
Section 177 Agreement, and fi led a petition with the US Congress seeking
additional compensation from the US based on Article IX of the Section
177 Agreement, on the basis of so-called &changed circumstances*.192 The
189 The Tribunal approached the costs of recovery in a broader sense as it reached the
conclusion that the cost of restoration was disproportionate to the diff erence in value before
and after the injury to the land and because cultural considerations made the diff erence in
market value an inadequate measure of the Claimant*s damages. In the Matter of the People
of Enewetak, et al. supra note 185, at 13每14 and Thornburgh et al., supra note 164, at 44.
190 In the Matter of the People of Enewetak, et al., supra note 187, at 31; similar property
damages class action claims were fi led on behalf of the residents of Rongelap and Utrik.
The Bikini community was awarded total damages of 563 million and 315,000 dollars. This
amount refl ected damages for the loss of use; the cost of restoring Bikini to an acceptable
condition and hardship damages. The Bikini population is still unable to return.
191 That was the conclusion of the independent assessor, Richard Thornburgh, who in
his Report concluded as follows:
&[I]t is our judgement that the US$150 million trust fund initially established in 1986 is
manifestly inadequate to fairly compensate the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands for the
damages they suff ered as a result of the dozens of the US nuclear tests that took place in
their homeland;*
Thornburgh et al., supra note 164, at 72每3.
192 The &Changed Circumstances* provision reads as follows:
&If the loss or damage to property and person of the citizens of the Marshall Islands, resulting
from the Nuclear Testing Programme, arises or is discovered after the eff ective date of
this Agreement, and such injuries were not and could not reasonably have been identifi ed as
of the eff ective date of this Agreement, and if such provisions render the provisions of this
Agreement manifestly inadequate, the Government of the Marshall Islands may request
that the Government of the United States provide for such injuries by submitting such a
request to the Congress of the United States for its consideration. It is understood that this
Article does not commit the Congress of the United States to authorise and appropriate
funds.*
The RMI referred to, inter alia, new and additional information since the promulgation
of the Compact and stricter US radiation protection standards of 1997 and 1999 and the
records of the Department of Energy, which were declassifi ed and which evidence that the
extent of the radioactive fall-out was greater than previously known. The Report prepared
in 2004 by the US Department of State concluded that the request fi led by the RMI did not
qualify as &changed circumstances* within the terms of the Compact. The Petition requested
additional funds totalling US $3.3 billion, including amounts for personal injury awards;
for unpaid NCT property damages; medical services infrastructure; and money paid annually
for a health care programme for those exposed to radiation. See Lum et al., supra
note 170, and United States Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Full
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 165
petition*s monetary requests included: unpaid Nuclear Claims Tribunal
personal injury awards of US $14 million; unpaid Tribunal property
damages awards to the peoples of the atolls of Enewetak and Bikini of US
$949 million; US $50 million for medical care services infrastructure; and
US $45 million annually for 50 years for a health care programme for those
exposed to radiation.193 On 11 April 2006, the Bikini Atoll people fi led a
class action before the US Federal Court, inter alia, for breach its fi duciary
obligations to the Bikini people by declining and refusing to provide
the Nuclear Claims Tribunal with funds suffi cient to satisfy the award of
US $563,315,000 for past and future loss of use of Bikini Atoll, restoration
costs for a radiological clean up of the atoll, and hardship. In September
2006, the US Court put forth a motion to dismiss Bikini*s claim. On 12
April 2006 the Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands also fi led a claim in
the US Court of Federal Claims for compensation for damage under the
5th Amendment. The Enewetak case is still pending. 194
3. Additional Funding under the 1986 Compact of Free Association
Money provided for the NCT was not the only fi nancial assistance granted
by the United States. On the basis of the Compact of Free Association,
the US Government granted the amount of US $313 million to be paid
annually over 15 years. Under Section 211(a) (1) of the Compact the US
agreed to grant to the Marshall Islands US $26.1 million annually for the
fi ve-year period commencing on the eff ective date of the Compact; US
$22.1 million annually for the next fi ve-year period and US $19.1 annually
for a third fi ve-year period. However, the main purpose of these grants was
to promote the economic self-suffi ciency of the people of the RMI. Under
the Section 177 Agreement, the portion of these funds was also aimed at
a health-care programme and services relating to the consequences of the
Nuclear Testing Programme, in addition to the US $150 million grant.
4. The 2003 Compact of Free Association Amendments to the 1986
Compact of Free Association
In 2003, the Compact of Free Association Amendments to the 1986
Compact of Free Association (hereinafter the &Amended Compact*) were
Committee Hearing Asian Aff airs, available online at: http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.
cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Testimony&Hearing_ID=1478&Witness_ID=4216 (last visited
on 10 July 2008).
193 Lum et al., supra note 170, at 2.
194 The People of Bikini, by and through the Kili/BikiniEjit, Local Government Council
Plaintiff s, v. United States of America, Defendant, available online at: http://www.bikiniatoll.
com/2006%20Bikini%20vs.%20US%20CFC.pdf (last visited on 10 July 2008); the US
Government rejected the claim mainly on the basis of jurisdiction.
166 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
passed by the Congress.195 This Amended Compact is in force between
2004 and 2023. In general terms the Amended Compact primarily covers
the following areas: education; health; and infrastructure. One of the most
important amendments to the Compact was the revised fi nancing scheme
relating to the 1986 Compact 每 Title II which concerns fi nancial assistance
in the promotion of the economic self-suffi ciency of the people on the RMI.
In general terms, under the Amended Compact assistance is provided in
the form of annually decreasing grants, combined with increasing contributions
to trust funds intended as a source of revenue for the RMI after 2023,
when the grants by the US will have been terminated. Grant funding will
decrease annually and will result in falling per capita grant assistance.196
The Amended Compact has several very stringent provisions relating to the
structural framework of the grants, such as detailed implementation plans
and the setting up of managers and trust committees. The US Trust Fund
receives an initial US contribution of US $8 million in the fi scal year 2004
and the annual contributions will increase between 2005 and 2023. Trust
funding is conditional on contributions of at least US $25 million being
made by the RMI prior to the fi scal year 2004 of &bump up* funds available
to them under Section 231 of the Amended Compact during the fi scal
years 2002 and 2003. Additionally, after 2004 contributions by the RMI
and third parties to the fund are expected. Under the Amended Compact,
the Title II base grant would decline by US $5 million per year between
the fi scal years 2005 and 2023. This amount will be deposited in the Trust
Fund.197 In relation to the Marshall Islands Nuclear Testing Programme,
Section 103 of the Amended Compact reiterates the provisions adopted in
the 1986 Compact as regards the nuclear tests eff ects.
5. The Latest Developments
On 10 July 2007,198 the bill that would provide supplemental ex gratia
compensation to the RMI for impacts of the Nuclear Testing Programme
195 Public Law, 17 December 2003, 108每188, Text of the Compact of Free Association
Amendments and the Appendix V-Trust Fund Agreement; available online at: http://
www.rmiembassyus.org/Compact/Compact%20Sub%20Agreement.pdf (last visited on 6
December 2007); see also United States Government Accountability Offi ce. Testimony
before the Subcommittee on Insular Aff airs, Committee on Natural Resources, House of
Representatives. Compact of Free Association. Statement of David B. Gootnick, Director
International Aff airs and Trade, available online at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d071115t.
pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
196 RMI per capita grant assistance will fall from over US $1,000 in 1987 to just over 300
in 2023. See Statement of David B. Gootnick, supra note 195, at 6.
197 Section 216 of the Amended Compact.
198 See http://www.yokwe.net/index.php?name=News&fi le=article&sid=1846 (last
visited on 6 December 2007).
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 167
was introduced. In general the proposed bill related to the following
areas: the monitoring of the Runit Island (part of the Enewetak Atoll)
by the Secretary for Energy as a part of the monitoring programme, the
periodic surveying of radiological conditions on the island and reporting
to the Congress,199 the extension of the working of the Energy Employees
Occupational Illness Compensation Programme (&EEOICPA*) to the citizens
of the RMI (which had been interpreted as covering only US citizens);
a special fund would be provided to support a primary health-care clinic
in each of the aff ected communities,200 a regular impact assessment should
be conducted regarding the nuclear impact on the areas beyond the four
most aff ected Atolls.
6. Other Relevant (Non Nuclear Testing) Trusts: The Marshall Islands
Intergenerational Trust Fund (MIITF)
In 1999 the Republic of the Marshall Islands established the Marshall
Islands Intergenerational Trust Fund with a view to achieving broader
fi nancial autonomy in the management of its recurrent budget, provision
of an adequate level of social infrastructure and services an the enhancing
of the capacity of Government eff ectively to provide capital development
assistance. The RMI set aside the amount of US $17.5 million for the
MIITF.201 It may be said that:
The MIITF is the only revenue stabilization instrument capable of generating
the funds required to achieve budgetary self-reliance. As such the successful
development of the Fund is crucial to the sustainability of the RMI economy.
This Fund is a key component of the RMI strategy to achieve budgetary selfreliance
and provide for future generations of Marshallese.202
199 Between 1977 and 1980, the US conducted a clean-up of some of the contaminated
areas of the Enewetak Atoll. Some of the contaminated soil and debris was placed on Runit
Island (in the Cactus crater, formed by one of the tests), mixed with concrete. Under the 1986
Compact, the RMI accepted full responsibility for and control over the utilization of areas
of the Marshall Islands aff ected by the Nuclear Programme Testing. However, additionally,
the Compact reaffi rmed the previously granted authorization for the US Department
of Energy (&DOE*) for medical care and environmental monitoring relating to the testing
programme.
200 Under the Section 177 Agreement, funds of US $2 million were allocated annually
to provide health care for the most aff ected communities. However for various reasons the
funds were depleted in 2003. Thereafter, they were supplemented by the Congress on a discretionary
basis.
201 Law promulgated in the Marshall Islands on 7 April 1999 (P.L. 1999-901); Offi ce
of the President of the RIM informed that it has at present US $75 million: see http://www.
rmigovernment.org/news_detail.jsp?docid=94 (last visited on 6 December 2007).
202 RMI Compact Proposal, at 5, para. 25; available online at: http://marshall.csu.edu.
au/Marshalls/html/Compact2002/2002compactpro.pdf (last visited on 6 December 2007).
168 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
In 2001 under the Fiscal and Financial Management Programme (FFMP)
of the Asian Development Bank203 the loan was granted for MIITF which
emphasizes its intergenerational character. On the Objectives and Scope of
the loan it is stated that:
The key objectives of the program loan are: (i) stabilize the fi scal position; (ii)
strengthen public sector fi nancial and economic management, (iii) ensure a sustainable
income fl ow for future generations, (iv) improve the eff ectiveness of the
public service, and (v) enhance the policy environment for the private sector.204
The 2003 Amended Compact made the following provisions as regards
the MIITF:
The RMI*s aim is to have suffi cient funds invested in the MIITF by the end of
2018 . . . The investment in the MIITF will come from: 1) RMI revenues; 2) the
United States; 3) other countries; 4) regional and international development and
fi nance institutions; and 5) the reinvestment of earnings. The RMI has already
set aside $17.5 million for its initial contribution. A further $14 million will be
set-aside in the 2003 budget. The Republic of China and development/fi nance
institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, will also provide funds for
the MIITF. The Asian Development Bank will assist in providing technical
assistance to make the MIITF operational.205
It is also provided that other donors are envisaged. The funding of the
MIITF will be structured as follows: the US contributes US $18 million
annually to the MIITF for the period 2004每2018; the RMI makes annual
contributions from budget revenues, and the RMI will seek contributions
from other parties.206 &The MIITF will become operational when contributions
are received from other donors, the RMI Government*s start-up contribution
will then be deposited into the MIITF.*207 This trust provides as
well a &generational* aspect in the legal regulation of the Marshall Islands.
IX. CONCLUSIONS
This chapter examined the issues of intergenerational equity in the light
of the recent constitutional developments as well as the ongoing process
203 Fiscal and Financial Management Program, Loan- RMI-34504-01; available online at:
http://www.adb.org/Documents/Profi les/LOAN/34504013.ASP (last visited on 12 December
2007).
204 Ibid.
205 RMI Compact Proposal, supra note 202, at 5, para. 25.
206 Ibid., at 5, para. 28.
207 Ibid., at 10, Attachment A.
Intergenerational equity: a reappraisal 169
of the settlement of nuclear claims arising out of the US nuclear testing in
the Marshall Islands and other trusts and settlements in the same State,
taking into account the rights of unborn generations. As presented above,
the issue of the existence of the rights of future generations is not at all
clear and remains an unsettled question in both philosophy and law. Many
recent Constitutions (such as that of Poland), invoke future generations in
their part on general foundational principles of the State. However, such
mention of future generations has very little eff ect on the asserting of the
rights of future generations in the legislative process and practice. Far more
reaching is the solution adopted in Israel, where the Commission on Future
Generations forms part of the Knesset and has the power to review all proposed
law from the point of view of future generations. It must be noted,
however, that the role and functioning of this body are not without doubts.
In the light of the above, the legal processes taking place in the Republic of
Marshall Islands are of paramount importance, most notably the legal proceedings
before the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which in its legal settlements
accounts for generations unborn and their well-being, even if the allocated
funds are insuffi cient. Even the so-called Intergenerational Trust Fund is
aimed, inter alia, at future generations. Therefore, it may be said that the
theory of intergenerational equity is alive, if it remains controversial. There
are even views that this concept is indispensable for contemporary global
environmental governance.208
208 L. Collins argues as follows:
& . . . the doctrine of intergenerational equity integrates the paradigm of rights and responsibilities,
transcends the limitations of each paradigm taken separately, and has the potential
to function as a universally acceptable framework for global environmental governance.*
Collins, supra note 2, at 93. The same author submits elsewhere that in the European Union
the adoption of the concept of intergenerational equity is unclear and the rights of future generations
can be inferred from the concept of sustainable development, which, however, suff ers
from unclear content: L.M. Collins, &Environmental Rights for the Future? International
Equity in the EU*, 16 RECIEL (2002) 321, at 322每30.
170
4. The European Convention on
Human Rights and the human right
to a clean environment*
I. INTRODUCTION
This chapter will focus on the human right to a clean environment and the
1950 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as interpreted by
the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), seen from the perspective
of the jurisprudence of the English courts. The chapter will consist
of the following main sections: an introduction to the human right to
a clean environment; the ECHR and the jurisprudence of the ECHR; a
brief introduction to the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA); and the relevant
jurisprudence of English courts.
II. INTRODUCTION TO THE ISSUES CONCERNING
THE HUMAN RIGHT TO A CLEAN
ENVIRONMENT
The issue of the human right to a clean environment has, for many years,
been a subject of vigorous discussion.1 The focus of the discussion has been
* This is a shortened and updated version of an Article: &The Human Right to a Clean
Environment 每 Phantom or Reality? The European Court of Human Rights and English
Courts Perspective on Balancing Rights in Environmental Cases*, with Jim Marshall, 76
Nordic Journal of International Law, at 103每151.
1 To mention a few of the numerous publications on this subject: see R. Desgagn谷,
&Integrating Environmental Values into the European Convention on Human Rights*, 89
AJIL (1995) 263, at 263每94; M. Thorme, &Establishing Environment as Human Right*, 19
Den. J. Int*IL. & Pol*y (1991) 301, at 301每41; A. Boyle and M. Anderson (eds), Human
Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection (1996); D. Shelton, &What Happened in Rio
to Human Rights?*, 3 YBIEL (1992) 75, at 75每93 (hereinafter Shelton I); D. Shelton, &Human
Rights, Environmental Rights and the Right to the Environment*, 28 Stanford J. Int*l L. (1991)
103, at 103每38; A. Kiss and D. Shelton, International Environmental Law (2004), at 661每731;
G. Handl, &Human Rights and Protection of the Environment: A Mildly ※Revisionist§
View*, in A.A. Cançado Trinidade (ed.), Human Rights, Sustainable Development and the
Environment (1992) 117 (hereinafter Handl I); G. Handl, &Human Rights and Protection of
The human right to a clean environment 171
shifting, however, from the very issue of the existence of such a right to the
more practical problems of the distinction between substantive and procedural
human rights to a clean environment (i.e. right to environmental
information, participation in environmental decision-making and access to
environmental justice). The early, general debate relating to the existence
of such a right was mainly characterized by its vagueness and lack of focus.
For example, much of the discussion was devoted to the name of such a
(possible) right, such as a &right to an environment* or a right to a &decent*,
&healthy*, or &safe* environment.2 The issues which were initially widely
analysed concerned the possible link between human rights in general
and the environment and the classifi cation of such a right. However, no
persuasive theories were off ered. Certain writers rejected the existence of
such a possibility. G. Handl, for example, expressed doubts whether the
human right to a clean environment might be derived at all from a general
discourse on human rights.3
According to the views of the aforementioned writers, such a right
belonged to the category of so-called solidarity rights (or the third generation
of human rights). This category of human rights is in itself rather
controversial.4 K. Vasak is assumed to have originated the concept of this
category of human rights. He defi ned them in the following manner:
They are new to infuse the aspirations they express, are new from the point of
view of human rights in that they seek to infuse the dimension into areas where
it has all too often been missing, having been left to the State, or States . . . They
are new in that they both are involved against the State and demanded of it; but
above all (and herein lies their essential characteristic) they can be realised only
through the concerned eff orts of all actors of the social scene: the individual, the
State, public and private bodies and the international community.5
the Environment*, in A. Eide et al. (eds), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Textbook
(2001) 303, at 303每28 (hereinafter Handl II); M. Fitzmaurice, &Some Refl ections on Public
Participation in Environmental Matters as a Human Right in International Law*, 2 Non-State
Actors and International Law (2002) 1, at 1每22; J. Hancock, Environmental Human Rights:
Power, Ethics and Law (2003); T. Hayward, Constitutional Environmental Rights (2005).
2 Desgagn谷, supra note 2, at 263每4.
3 Handl II, supra note 2, at 306. He referred in particular to an unresolved issue of
the concept of human rights as either inherent to human beings by the very virtue of their
humanity, or granted by a State. This debate, in his view, not just aff ects the understanding
of the burden of proof, but also goes to the very core of the debate between the proponents of
natural law and positive law. See R.S. Pathak, &The Human Rights System as a Conceptual
Framework for Environmental Law*, in E. Brown Weiss (ed.), Environmental Change and
International Law: New Challenges and Dimensions (1992), at 199每204.
4 It was thought that this category included the right to development, and co-ownership
of the common heritage of mankind.
5 K. Vasak, &For the Third Generation of Human Rights: the Right of Solidarity*,
Inaugural Lecture for the 10th Study Session of the International Institute of Human Rights
172 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
However, this category of rights was in general subject to a certain degree
of criticism from the point of view of the usefulness of these rights in relation
to the environmental human right.6 Due to the inherent character
of these rights, their application in relation to the environmental human
right would make the main benefi ciaries developing States. This, however,
would not conform with the classical approach to human rights.7
The view, which was frequently expressed, draws on the environmental
human right from the catalogue of already existing human rights, i.e. rights
enshrined in the two United Nations Covenants: of Civil and Political
Rights and of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. The most frequently
referred to is the right to life (which belongs to the fi rst generation of human
rights) or the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being
(which belongs to the so-called second generation of human rights). It is
assumed that the vague and ill-defi ned content of the proposed right to a
clean environment would acquire certain normativity if it were drawn from
already established human rights.8 Such an approach is not without problems,
in particular with respect to the second generation of human rights,
as, &[d]espite their advantages, the existing system for implementing and
monitoring second generation rights construes these rights rather narrowly,
and continues to approach environmental questions only indirectly*.9
Finally, there are some views which defi ne such a right as a mixture of
civil and political and social, economic and cultural rights. The proponents
of this view, however, point out that the second generation of human
rights are vague in nature, and, therefore, the implementation in practice
of an environmental right, in part derived from this category of rights,
would encounter inherent diffi culties.10 Moreover, such a right would
represent a very wide spectrum of economic, political and social issues,
thus making the implementation of and compliance with such a right very
problematic.11 The same author observes that the changing structure of
(July 1979); see also P. Alston, &A Third Generation, of Solidarity Rights: Progressive
Development of Obfuscation of International Human Rights?*, 29 NILR (1982) 307, at
309; S. Marks, &Emerging Human Rights; A Generation for the 1980s?*, 33 Rutgers L. Rev.
(1980每81) 435, at 441; P. Kooijmans, &Human Rights 每 Universal Panacea? Some Refl ections
on So-called Human Rights of the Third Generation*, 37 NILR (1982) 315, at 317.
6 They were thought to be so general as to encompass everything and everybody: see A.
Boyle, &The Role of Human Rights in the Protection of the Environment*, in A. Boyle and M.
Anderson (eds), Human Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection (1996) 43, at 46.
7 Ibid., at 49.
8 J.G. Merrills, &Environmental Protection and Human Rights: Conceptual Aspects*, in
Boyle/Anderson (eds), supra note 6, 25, at 25.
9 M. Anderson, &Human Rights Approaches to Environmental Protection: An Overview*,
in ibid., 1, at 6.
10 Handl II, supra note 2, at 133.
11 Handl I, supra note 2, at 120每121.
The human right to a clean environment 173
environmental measures, which are subject to socio-legal re-ordering (such
as saving jobs), adds to defi nitional and practical diffi culties of the problem
of the human right to a clean environment.
In the intervening years between the ICCPR, ICESCR and now,
the discourse relating to environmental human rights has shifted from
defi nitional issues to the more practical approach, based on a division
of this right into a substantive and a procedural environmental human
right. The latter type of this right has particularly gained in importance
since the elaboration and the entry into force of the 1998 Aarhus
Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access
to Justice in Environmental Matters.12 This Convention is an emanation
of certain principles contained in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on
Human Environment and the 1992 Rio Declaration on Development and
Environment, such as Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, which grants
a procedural right to a clean environment. It is generally thought that
the procedural environmental right is a more eff ective and fl exible tool in
achieving environmental justice than a substantive right, which frequently
does not grant any procedural rights to information, participation or judicial
justice, and thus is to a large extent only a policy statement.13 This is
often the case concerning the constitutional right to a clean environment.
On the international plane, T. Hayward observes in relation to the Aarhus
Convention:
rights of information are clearly a prerequisite to eff ective democratic citizenship;
and democracy is enhanced by increasing government and industry
transparency and accountability on environmental issues.14
This Convention is devoted in its entirety to the procedural environmental
human right: an individual must be granted the right to receive
information, be entitled to participate in the decision-making process
concerning environmental matters and have access to environmental
justice. Failure to comply with these obligations implies a breach of a
treaty by a State. The main pillar on which the Aarhus Convention is
broadly conceived is public participation. Public participation under this
Convention covers four types of decision-making procedures: specifi c
activities; plans; programmes and policies; and executive regulations and
12 This Convention entered into force in 2001.
13 See for an in-depth discussion on this subject-matter: T. Hayward, Constitutional
Environmental Rights (2005), at 84每92.
14 Ibid., at 143.
174 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
generally applicable rules.15 It is based on two fundamental principles:
the &early* public participation and the &eff ective* public participation
(Article 6(4) of the Aarhus Convention). Article 9(1) of the Convention
defi nes the grounds on which access to environmental justice is based.16
At present, however, implementation of the Convention is most advanced
in relation to access to information. Public participation is still in its initial
stages and access to environmental justice is the least developed area of
the implementation of the Convention. It is not often remembered that
there are international environmental conventions which grant a right
to information and public participation, although they are not human
rights-based. The 1991 Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact in a
Transboundary Context is an example of such a convention.17 The basic
principle of the Espoo Convention is the same as the one enshrined in
the Aarhus Convention, i.e. the establishment of a reasonable time-frame
allowing suffi cient time for each of the diff erent stages of public participation
in the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The extent of public
participation is even broader in the new Protocol to the Espoo Convention
(the 2003 Kiev Protocol on the Strategic Impact Assessment18), which
encompasses public consultations at the stage of plans and programmes
(Article 2(6)), in contrast to the Espoo Convention, which envisages it at
the stage of projects.
At the international level there are two instruments which grant a
direct right to a clean environment: the 1981 African Charter on Human
15 J. Ebbeson, Background paper No. 5, &Information, Participation and Access to
Justice: the Model of the Aarhus Convention*, Joint UNEP每OHCHR Expert Seminar on
Human Rights and the Environment (14每16 January 2002), available online at: www.ohchr.
org/english/issues/environment/environ/bp5.htm (last visited on 28 June 2008).
16 The denial of environmental information gives the right to a review procedure
before the court or another independent or impartial body (Article 9(1)); any member of
the public having a suffi cient interest or maintaining impairment of a right has recourse to
a review procedure before the court or another independent or impartial body in order to
challenge the substantive or procedural legality of any decision, act or omission concerning
the specifi c activities which may aff ect the environment (Article 9(2)); and, fi nally, members
of public, if they meet required criteria laid down in national law, shall have access to
administrative or judicial procedures to challenge acts and omissions by private persons and
public authorities which contravene the provisions of each State*s national environmental
law (Article 9(3)).
17 The Convention provides for:
&. . . an opportunity to the public in areas likely to be aff ected to participate in relevant
impact assessment procedures regarding proposed activities and shall insure that the
opportunity provided to the public of the aff ected area is equivalent to that provided to the
public of the State of origin* (Article 2(6)).
18 Not yet in force.
The human right to a clean environment 175
Rights and Peoples Rights (Article 24), which recognized a collective
right to a clean environment19 and the 1988 San Salvador protocol on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to the 1969 American Convention
on Human Rights (Article 11), which is the fi rst and only instrument
according an individual right to a clean environment.20 In 2002, for the
fi rst time, Article 24 of the African Charter was a basis for the petition
fi led by two non-governmental organizations before the Commission
on behalf of the Ogoni people and against the Nigerian Government
and the Shell oil company. The claim was also fi led on the grounds of
other human rights, such as the right to life and the right to health. The
environmental human right was interpreted by the Commission broadly
as not only providing a clean environment and unimpaired access to
resources, but also conducting environmental impact assessment studies
prior to any activity which may impact adversely on the environment.
It also emphasized the right to information and the right to be heard
(such a right is also part and parcel of the evidence for the environment
impact assessment). It may then be stated that the EIA undoubtedly
constitutes a procedural human right to a clean environment. This is
often overlooked. The above-mentioned case is, however, exceptional, as
it was brought, inter alia, on the basis of the right to a clean environment
as enshrined in the African Charter. However, as international practice
indicates, the insignifi cant number of international agreements granting
direct environmental right results in the selection of other human rights,
such as the right to life, the right to health, the right to an adequate
standard of living and minority rights, as the basis for alleged violations
linked to environmental degradation.21
19 Article 24: &All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable
to their development*; see M. Soveroski, &Environment Rights versus Environmental
Wrongs: Forum over Substance?*, 16 RECIEL (2007) 261, at 264.
20 Article 11 says:
&1. Everyone shall have the right to live in a healthy environment and to have an access to
basic public services. 2. The state parties shall promote the protection, preservation and
improvement of the environment.*
See Soveroski, supra note 19, at 264.
21 For example, the right to life: EHP v. Canada, HRC, Communication No. 67/1980
(27 October 1982); Yanomani Indians v. Brasil, Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights, Decision 7615 (1985); right to health: was featured in the practice of the Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC) in reports of the Parties and in general Comment No. 14 in
which it said:
&the right to health embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions
in which people can lead a healthy life, and extends to underlying determinates of
health such as a healthy environment.*
176 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
There are also international agreements which grant what may be called
an indirect right to a clean environment. An example of such an agreement
is the 1989 International Labour Organization Convention (No. 169)
concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. This
Convention requires its Parties to adopt special measures to safeguard the
environment for indigenous peoples.
The landmark declarations in the development of international environmental
law, the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment and
the 1992 Rio Declaration on Development and Environment, contain language
that, although relating to human rights, is couched in general terms
and is too vague in relation to the environment itself to be viewed as granting
a direct human right to a clean environment. Principle 1 of the 1972
Stockholm Declaration introduces language which links environment to
the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It pledges that a person
has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of
life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and wellbeing.
It also states that a person has the duty to protect and improve the
environment for present and future generations; &[i]n this respect, policies
promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination,
colonial and other forms of oppression and foreign domination stand
condemned and must be eliminated*. It may be said that the element
which connects the human environment and the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is human dignity.
The 1992 Rio Declaration is, in its entirety, the expression of the
concept of sustainable development but does not grant a direct right
to a clean environment. It states: &[h]uman beings are in the centre for
sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy life in harmony
with nature.* This statement is couched in the language of &entitlement*
rather than a right. It may be observed (as in the Stockholm
Declaration) that this principle is formulated in very general terms, and
it is doubtful whether it may constitute the basis of the future formation
of a human right to a clean environment. There are, however, diff erent
views arguing that one possible way of avoiding the dilemma of the
defi nitional nature (as well as the problem of categorization of human
rights) is to leave the discourse of human rights and rely entirely on
and &[a]ny person or group victim of a violation of the right to health should have an access to
eff ective judicial or other appropriate remedies at both national and international levels*; right
to adequate standard of living: the ECOSOC referred to environmental issues in its General
Comment on the Right to Adequate Food and its Comment on the Right to Adequate
Housing (&housing should not be built on polluted sites nor in proximity to pollution sources
that threaten the right to health of the inhabitants*).
The human right to a clean environment 177
the concept of sustainable development, &where it advances or realises
the right to a healthy environment*.22 The same author asserts that the
1992 Rio Declaration is the expression of the evolution of the right to
a clean environment, which is translated into the principle of sustainable
development, including the rights of future generations; in the view
of the present author, this interesting approach is not without fl aws.
The concept of sustainable development in itself is very vague and
its normative content is ill-defi ned.23 Equally elusive is the concept of
intergenerational equity. It appears that drawing an uncertain human
right from the concept of sustainable development, which in itself is
vague and without fi rm normative content, neither leads to defi nitive
results nor clarifi es the issue. Furthermore, the character of the Rio
Declaration (and also the Stockholm Declaration) is that of a soft-law
instrument and both of these Declarations contain very few principles
which have binding force on the basis of international customary
law.24
In general, however, it may be said that there is still a great degree of
uncertainty concerning the existence of a global, uniform and universally
accepted substantive human right to a clean environment. It appears that
a so-called procedural right gained certain recognition as a less controversial
right, and that both the environmental impact assessment procedure
and the Aarhus Convention contributed to the acceptance and development
of this right on the international and national levels.25
22 S. Giorgetta, &The Right to a Healthy Environment, Human Rights and Sustainable
Development*, 2 International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics (2002)
171, at 182.
23 See, e.g., V. Lowe, &Sustainable Development and Unsustainable Argument*, in
A. Boyle and D. Freestone (eds), International Law and Sustainable Development: Past
Achievements and Future Challenges (1999) 19, at 19每38.
24 The principle on the prohibition of transboundary environmental harm to other States
and in the areas outside the States* jurisdiction (Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration
and Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration) is one such acknowledged norm. It was confi rmed by
the International Court of Justice in the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,
Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996 [1996] ICJ Rep. 226, at 241每2, para. 29.
25 It has been argued that at the national level environmental rights have been largely
vacuous in content and were only paying lip service to environmental concerns, in fact
promoting economic development, thereby depriving environmental rights of any effi ciency:
Hancock, supra note 2, at 103. See also Soveroski, supra note 19, at 271, who argues that &[t]
here seems to be less strenuous objections to recognising the rights of access to information
and justice, and to participate in environment-related decision making*. The same author
states that a substantive right to a clean environment is emerging and, if not yet customary
international law, is perhaps an emerging general principle of international law, recognized by
civilized nations. This view is based, inter alia, on numerous domestic acts and constitutions,
which contain such an act: Soveroski, supra note 19, at 267每8.
178 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
III. THE 1950 EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON
HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE JURISPRUDENCE
OF THE EUROPEAN GRAND CHAMBER OF
HUMAN RIGHTS
A. General Introduction
The European Convention on Human Rights forms part of the European
regional nexus of human rights instruments.26 The jurisprudence of the Court
concerning the interpretation of the catalogue of human rights included in
the Convention to give eff ect to environmental concerns has been the subject
of ongoing debate and much controversy. In general, the interpretation of
the Convention by the Court is one of the most disputed issues in the practice
of the Court, which resulted in stimulating and extensive jurisprudential
debate. The general problems underlying the interpretive principles of the
Convention, such as the margin of appreciation (as well as the implication
of this concept for universality versus relativism27), autonomous concepts
28 and the tests of the balancing of interests between an individual and the
community as a whole and of proportionality still remain largely unresolved.
These general principles also have a bearing on the interpretation by
the Court of the so-called &environmental human right*.
26 The European Court of Human Rights is one of the European institutions. The 1950
European Convention on Human Rights was adopted by the Council of Europe, which was
established in 1949 by the Treaty of London, signed by nine States: Belgium, France, Ireland,
Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. At present
there are 46 States Parties to the Convention. The Court is composed of a &number equal to
that of High Contracting Parties* to the ECHR (Article 20). The judges are elected by the
Parliamentary Assembly for a renewable period of six years. Protocol 11 to the Convention
made the jurisdiction of the Court compulsory and abolished the Commission. The catalogue
of civil and political rights has been vastly enhanced by the adoption of Protocol 13 to the
Convention; all this information is available online at: www.echr.coe.int/ECHR/HN/Header/
The+Court/The+Court/History+of+the+Court (last visited on 20 June 2008).
27 There is a vast amount of literature on this subject, such as R.St.J. MacDonald, &The
Margin of Appreciation*, in R.St.J. MacDonald et al. (eds), The European System for the
Protection of Human Rights (1993) 83, at 83每124; H. Yourow, The Margin of Appreciation
Doctrine in the Dynamics of the European Court of Human Rights Jurisprudence (1996); D. Shelton,
&The Boundaries of Human Rights Jurisdiction in Europe*, 13 Duke J. Comp. & Int*1 L. (2003)
95, at 95每153; J. Sweeny, &Margins of Appreciation: Cultural Relativity and the European Court
of Human Rights and the Post-Cold War Era*, 54 ICLQ (2005) 459, at 459每74; E. Benvenisti,
&Margin of Appreciation, Consensus, and Universal Standards*, 31 N.Y.U.J. Int*1Law & Pol.
(1999) 843, at 843每54; P. Mahoney, &Judicial Activism and Judicial Self-Restraint in the Court:
Two Sides of the Same Coin*, 11 HRLJ (1990) 57, at 57每88; P. Mahoney, &Speculating on the
Future of the Reformed European Court of Human Rights*, 20 HRLJ (1999) 1, at 1每4.
28 See in depth G. Letsas, &The Truth of Autonomous Concepts: How to Interpret the
ECHR*, 15 EJIL (2004) 279, at 279每305; idem, A Theory of Interpretation of the European
Convention on Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
The human right to a clean environment 179
Of paramount importance for the environment and human rights is
undoubtedly the doctrine of margin of appreciation and the balancing of
interests test (the interests of an individual versus the interests of the community).
Since its introduction, the margin of appreciation has become one of
the most taxing problems concerning the jurisprudence of the ECtHR. This
doctrine is derived purely from the practice of the Court, and is not provided
for in the Convention itself. It was initially introduced by the Court in the
1961 Lawless v. Ireland case29 and further developed in 1976 in Handyside
v. United Kingdom.30 Although several writers attempted to defi ne the
character of the doctrine of the margin of appreciation, it remained elusive.
S. McInterney describes this doctrine in the following manner:
One of the most complex features of international human rights law is the challenge
of balancing of international human rights norms and the particularity of
the contexts in which their application arises. Aligned to this is the delicate task
of mediating the tensions between eff ective international supervision and the
upholding of established human rights norms on one hand, and primary domestic
responsibilities and socio-cultural choices on the other. The poles in the context
may be seen as involving the vertical or horizontal distribution of power, as well
as (Absolute or relative) nature of the rights at issue. The balancing involved in
any discernible standards as well as recognition of the subjectivity of the context
and fact. Beyond this, the balancing needed in relation to all human rights would
appear to be heightened in the context of international human rights supervision,
even in a relatively cohesive system such as the European Convention
on Human Rights. These competing considerations form a symbiosis which a
supervisory body such as the European Court of Human Rights must continually
defi ne in its interpretative and supervisory role. The margin of appreciation
may be the single most distinguished interpretative feature of the ECHR
jurisprudence: it has defi ned not only interpretative methodology of Strasbourg
jurisprudence but also the substantive import of Convention rights. It remains
pivotal to the operation of a critical symbiosis between national upholding of the
Convention and the supervision of the ECHR mechanism: it lies at the heart of
the ineluctable and perennial mediation of consensus and relativity, supremacy
and national autonomy as well as uniformity and diversity.31
The ECtHR defi ned its role, in relation to the safeguarding of human rights
by the national systems, as subsidiary. According to the Court, national
authorities are better equipped to assess local conditions and give eff ect to
&pressing social needs*, which are implied by the notion of &necessity* in this
context.32 The Court was always adamant in observing that the foremost
29 Lawless v. Ireland (No. 3), 1 EHRR 15 (1961).
30 Handyside v. United Kingdom, 1 EHRR 737 (1976).
31 S. McInerney, review of the book by H.C. Yourow, &The Margin of Appreciation
Doctrine in the Dynamics of the European Court of Human Rights*, in 9 EJIL (1998) 763,
at 763.
32 Shelton, supra note 27, at 130.
180 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
responsibility for safeguarding human rights rests with national authorities
and courts. They are also best qualifi ed to assess the notions of &necessity*
(within the context of social needs), and &restrictions* and &penalty*, due to
their deep knowledge of the conditions prevalent in their countries.33 The
Court also made it quite clear that the application of the margin of appreciation
has its limitations. The ECtHR exercises a supervisory function which
&concerns both the aim and measure challenged* and its &necessity*.34
The doctrine of the margin of appreciation was applied by the Court in
many cases, including in the application of Article 8 (the right to respect
for family and private life), Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Protocol
I (the right to property), which played a very important role in relation to
the so-called environmental human right. Briefl y speaking, the margin of
appreciation and the issue of universality are two sides of the same coin.
The Court explained in the Handyside case that certain concepts (in this
case morals) could not be confi ned to one uniform defi nition that would fi t
all circumstances, and that:
The view taken by their respective laws of the requirement of morals varies from
time to time and from place to place, which is characterised by a rapid and farreaching
evolution of opinions on the subject.35
The Court*s permissive attitude to cultural relativity caused a longlasting
debate which engaged practitioners and theorists alike without
achieving defi nite results. The main criticism has been based on the premise
that such a relaxed approach mocks and undermines universal human
rights standards and instead encourages States to depart from them and to
rely on local traditions.36 The practical implementation of this doctrine is
also subject to certain doubts, in particular as to the role this theory fulfi ls
in the judicial function of the ECtHR. D. Shelton observes that the lack of
common standards is a drawback, as well as the insuffi cient specifi cation
of its comparative methods, standards of evidence and the extent of its
enquiry. The Court*s application of the margin of appreciation is characterized
by the lack of transparency and depth and the rigorous standard in
the comparative approach to this doctrine.37
33 Handyside, supra note 30, at para. 48.
34 Ibid., at para. 49.
35 Ibid., at para. 48.
36 See, e.g., Bevenisti, supra note 27, at 844. See also less critical views on the Court*s practice
in relation to the margin of appreciation in M. Walzer, Thick and Thin: Moral Argument
at Home and Abroad (1994).
37 Shelton, supra note 27, at 131, 134.
The human right to a clean environment 181
B. Selected Case Law
In 2005, the Council of Europe adopted a &Manual on Human Rights
and the Environment*, in which it was stated that although there is no
express right to a clean environment, certain Articles of the Convention
may give rise to environmental claims, such as the right to life; the right
to family and private life; the right to information; the right to peaceful
enjoyment of property; and the right to a fair hearing.38 Based on the previous
and extensive Court jurisprudence,39 the &Convention*s implications
for environmental protection* were summed up by Boyle in the following
manner:40
1. The state has an obligation to regulate and control environmental problems
where they impair the exercise of Convention rights and to ensure that the
law is enforced.
2. The state also has an obligation to make available information concerning
serious environmental risks, and to make provision for participation in
environmental decision-making and access to justice in environmental
cases.
3. Protection of the environment is a legitimate objective that in appropriate
cases can justify limiting certain rights, including the right to private life
and the right to possession and property. When balancing environmental
concerns against convention rights and &[t]he Court has recognised that
national authorities are the best placed to make decisions on environmental
issues, which often have diffi cult social and technical aspects. Therefore in
reaching its judgements, the Court aff ords the national authorities in principle
a wide discretion . . .
4. An unsettled question referred to in the manual is whether Convention
rights have trans-boundary application in environmental cases.41
This section of the chapter will present a survey of cases which gave rise
to views that the ECtHR (to a certain extent) recognized the existence of
a human right to a clean environment. However, it must be emphasized
that there is no direct human right to a clean environment included in the
catalogue of human rights in the ECtHR.
38 Committee of Experts for the Development of Human Rights, Doc. No DH-DEV
(1995). See extensively A. Boyle, &Human Rights or Environmental Rights? A Reassessment*,
18 Fordham Environmental Law Review (2007), 471 at 485每6.
39 See, e.g. Lopez-Ostra v. Spain, 20 EHRR (1994) 277; the two Hatton v. United Kingdom
cases: 37 EHRR (2003) 28; Fadeyeva v. Russia, 45 EHRR (2005) 50; Guerra v. Italy, 26 EHRR
(1998) 357; Case of Öneryıldız v. Turkey, 41 EHRR (2004) 20; Taskin v. Turkey, 42 EHRR
(2006) 50; Case of Budayeva and Others v. Russia, EHRR 15339/02, 21166/02, 20058/02,
11673/02 and 15343/02, (2008).
40 Boyle, supra note 38, at 486.
41 Ibid. (footnotes omitted).
182 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The jurisprudence of the ECtHR has defi nitely undergone a fundamental
(if not dramatic) change in so far as environmental issues are
concerned since the fi rst cases with environmental elements were brought
before the Court. It is generally accepted that the fi rst case with an environmental
element was brought before the Court in 1976.42 In this case,
X and Y v. Federal Republic of Germany, the applicants were members
of an environmental organization and owners of a plot of land used for
nature observation. The complaint concerned the use of the adjacent land
for military purposes. The legal grounds on which the claim was brought
were Articles 2,43 344 and 545 of the ECHR. However, the application
was not admitted by the Commission (later abolished) on jurisdicitional
grounds, as incompatible rationae materiae with the ECHR, and that the
application was manifestly ill-founded as the ECHR does not include a
right to nature preservation in its catalogue of rights and freedoms guaranteed
by the Convention. In the intervening years (since the fi rst cases
with environmental elements), the practice of the ECtHR has undergone
a fundamental and far-reaching change, and it has become legally possible
42 See, e.g., P. Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law (2003), at 299.
43 Article 2: Right to Life, states:
&1. Everyone*s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of this life
intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a
crime for which penalty is provided by law. 2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded a
infl icted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no
more than absolutely necessary: a. in defence of any person from unlawful violence; b. in
order to eff ect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; c. in
action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.*
44 Article 3: prohibition of torture states: &No one shall be subjected to torture or
inhuman and degrading treatment*.
45 Article 5: Right to Liberty and Security, states:
&1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security as a person. No one shall be deprived of
his liberty save in the following cases in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law: (a)
the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court; (b) the lawful arrest
or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court in order to
secure fulfi lment of any obligation proscribed by law; (c) the lawful arrest or detention of
a person aff ected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on
reasonable suspicion of having committed an off ence or when it is reasonably considered
necessary to prevent his committing an off ence or fl eeing after having done so; (d) the
detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his
lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority; (e)
the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases,
of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants; (f) the lawful arrest or
detention of a person to prevent his eff ecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of
a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition. 2.
Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands,
of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.*
The human right to a clean environment 183
to bring a claim with an environmental component. The most commonly
used Article of the Convention to lodge such a claim has been Article 8.46
The other Articles also invoked included: 3, 6,47 10,48 1349 and the First
46 Article 8: Right to Respect for Private and Family Life, states:
&1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this
right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society,
in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country,
for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others.*
47 Article 6: Right to a Fair Trial, states:
&1. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against
him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent
and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly
but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of
morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of
juveniles or the protection of a private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly
necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice
the interests of justice. 2. Everyone charged with a criminal offi ce shall be presumed
innocent until proved guilty according to law. 3. Everyone charged with a criminal off ence
has the following minimum rights: (a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he
understands and in details, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him: (b) to
have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence: (c) to defend himself
in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has insuffi cient means
to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require; (d)
to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and
examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;
(e) to have free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language
used in court.*
48 Article 10: Freedom of Expression, states:
&1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to
hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by
public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from
requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. 2. The exercise of
these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such
formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary
in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public
safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals,
for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of
information received in confi dence, or for maintaining the authority or impartiality of the
judiciary.*
49 Article 13: Right to Eff ective Remedy, states:
&Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set in this Convention are violated shall have an
eff ective remedy before the national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been
committed by person acting in an offi cial capacity.*
184 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Protocol.50 It may be observed that Article 8 of the ECHR guarantees
rights that are not absolute, but qualifi ed. The permissible limits of Article
8 are set by its paragraph 2. The infringement of this Article requires a twostep
procedure: (1) the determination of whether or not there has been an
interference with the right contained in this Article: and (2) the determination
whether it was justifi ed under Article 8 paragraph 2. Interference with
the right may be justifi ed if it is (i) in accordance with law; (ii) necessary in
a democratic society; and (iii) in furtherance of a legitimate aim identifi ed
in Article 8(2). In many cases before it,51 the ECtHR has explained that
the test for necessity in &democratic society* requires that &the interference
corresponds to a pressing social need and . . . is proportionate to the legitimate
aim pursued*. The reasons given to justify the interference must be
&relevant* and &suffi cient*.52 This is the so-called &test of proportionality*.
The tests of proportionality and the balancing of interests are at the heart
of the jurisprudence of the ECtHR in cases which deal with human rights
and the environment, i.e. involve to a larger extent the interpretation of
Article 8 of the ECHR.
The majority of the earlier cases concerned noise pollution from London
airports and were brought before the Court on the basis of Article 8 and
the First Protocol. The most important of these early cases was Raynor and
Powell v. United Kingdom, as in this case the Court made certain observations
which had a bearing on its future jurisprudence.53 This case concerned
the noise generated by day fl ights to and from Heathrow Airport. It was
brought by the applicants who lived under the fl ight path. The case was
lodged against the Government of the United Kingdom for breach of
Articles 8 and 13 of the ECHR for allowing the operation of Heathrow
50 First Protocol: Article 1: Protection of Property, states:
&Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No
one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions
provided for the law and by the general principles of international law. The preceding
provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws
as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest
or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.*
51 Olsson v. Sweden, 11 EHRR (1988) 259.
52 Ibid.
53 There was a cluster of cases that were settled outside the Court but have certain importance
because they were admitted before the Court and paved the way for similar cases. For
example, Arrondelle v. United Kingdom, 5 EHRR 118, in which the legal grounds for bringing
the claim were the same as in Raynor & Powell v. United Kingdom, 12 EHRR 355. The claim
was also related to the alleged noise pollution nuisance due to the development of the airport
and the construction of the motorway (Application No. 7889/77) (1980) 19 DR 186; Raynor
and Powell v. United Kingdom, ECtHR, Judgment of 21 February 1990, Ser. A, No. 172.
The human right to a clean environment 185
Airport which resulted in excessive noise by aircraft fl ying in accordance
with UK law and that the applicants did not have an eff ective remedy
against it. The Court rejected the application on the merits. Having applied
the test of balancing the competing interests between the individuals and
the community it came to the conclusion that, although the quality of life of
the applicants had been disturbed, nevertheless the economic importance of
Heathrow Airport (for the development of trade and communication, and
being a vast employer) was necessary for the well-being of the community.
The Court observed that the UK Government took all possible measures
to alleviate the noise pollution by adhering to international standards and
compensated aff ected residents. From 1949 onwards, the UK Government
had addressed the issues of noise pollution by taking special regulatory
measures.54 The Court fi nally decided that in areas such as the regulation
of noise pollution, the Court could fulfi l only a subsidiary role and that the
State authorities were best equipped to deal with such a complicated and
diffi cult social and technical problem. Therefore &this is an area Contracting
States are to be recognised as enjoying a wide margin of appreciation*.55
The judgment in this case was a disappointment for many lawyers.
However, in 1994, the ECtHR gave judgment in the Lopez-Ostra case,56
which at the time appeared to be of a groundbreaking character (which
in light of the further practice of the Court was perhaps a premature and
hasty assessment). The applicant in this case was a resident of the city of
Lorca in Spain. In 1988, a company called SACURSA erected a treatment
plant for liquid and solid waste 12 metres from the home of the applicant
(Mrs Lopez-Ostra). The plant was built with the assistance of municipal
subsidies. However SACURSA failed to obtain the required licence for
activities classifi ed as causing a nuisance. In July 1988, fumes from the
plant polluted the atmosphere in the city of Lorca. The applicant claimed
unlawful interference with her abode and impairment of her and her family*s
physical and mental health and safety.57 Courts at all levels in Spain,
including the Constitutional Court, found the applicant*s claim manifestly
ill-founded and dismissed it. Having exhausted all local remedies, the applicant
bought her claim before the ECtHR, on the basis of Articles 3 and 8,
paragraph 1, of the ECHR.58 The Strasbourg Commission considered the
claim admissible under Article 8 of the ECHR, but not under Article 3.
54 Until 1949, the issue of noise pollution was regulated by the common law of
nuisance.
55 Raynor and Powell v. UK, supra note 53, at para. 44.
56 Lopez-Ostra, 20 EHRR (1994) 277.
57 Ibid., at 280.
58 Ibid., at 286.
186 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
The Commission found a causal link between the emissions from the plant
and the illness of the applicant*s daughter. Subsequently, the judgment of
the Court was delivered on the basis of Article 8. The Court stated that
environmental pollution, even without causing serious damage to health,
could aff ect the well-being of individuals and impede the enjoyment of their
private and family life.59 The Court made some very important pronouncements
in this case in connection with human rights and the environment.
It again applied the balancing of competing interests test (community as
a whole versus the individual). The Court stated that the payment of the
rent for the substitute apartment did not completely compensate for the
nuisance suff ered by the family for three years, and that the State did not
strike the proper balance between the individual and public interests, i.e.
between private well-being and general economic concern.60 The Court
also found that although the plant was privately owned, the nuisance was
attributable to the State since the plant was built on public ground without
the required licence being obtained, and was subsidized by the municipality.
Furthermore, the public authorities were aware of the harm caused by
the plant. The Court also observed that States have a supervisory duty over
the actions carried out on their territory, in order to protect private and
family life and homes.61
The Court*s fi ndings may be summarized as follows: pollution does not
have to cause serious damage to human health, but rather must be &severe*,
in order to give rise to a cause of action, and a privately owned facility*s
nuisance may be attributable to the State. Most importantly, it was the fi rst
case in which the Court recognized clearly environmental issues within the
human rights structure and, even in the absence of an explicit environmental
right in the ECHR, it found that Article 8 constitutes a proper and suffi
cient link to connect the two: human rights and the environment. It also
should be emphasized that it was the fi rst time that the Court had given
a green &slant* to its decisions while weighing the interests of a public and
economic nature against the environmental complaint of the individual.
Anna Maria Guerra and 39 Others v. Italy was another important
case.62 This case concerned the pollution relating to the operation of the
ENCHEM Agricoltura chemical factory in Italy. The case was brought
before the Court on the basis of Article 10 of the ECHR. The applicants
complained about the government*s failure to inform the public
concerning the risks and measures adopted in the implementation of the
59 Ibid., at 295.
60 Ibid., at 295每99.
61 Ibid., at 296.
62 Guerra and Others v. Italy, supra note 39.
The human right to a clean environment 187
so-called 1982 EC &Seveso* Directive, relating to major hazards of certain
industrial activities. There had been accidents in the factory in the city of
Manfredonia in Italy which resulted in 150 people being taken to hospital.
The Commission admitted the case on the basis of Article 10. However, it
interpreted the obligation included therein narrowly as not involving the
positive duty to collect and disseminate information of its own volition. It
held that Article 10 generally only prohibits the government from interfering
with a person*s freedom to receive information that others are willing
to impart.63 During oral pleadings, the applicants expanded the legal basis
of the case to include Article 8 of the ECHR, which was accepted by the
Court. The Court based its judgment in this case on this legal ground.
The interpretation of Article 8 in this case followed the Court*s fi ndings
in the Lopez-Ostra case. The Court confi rmed that environmental pollution,
without being severe, might aff ect individuals* well-being and private
and family life.64 It explained that rights guaranteed by this Article were
breached, as the long waiting period for essential information, necessary
for the evaluation of risks involved, to which the applicants and their families
were exposed aff ected family life. The Court stated that &[t]he direct
eff ect of toxic emissions on the applicants* right for their private and family
life means that Article 8 is applicable*.65
Of great importance for the further development of the Court*s jurisprudence
in matters of human rights and the environment were the two
Hatton (2001 and 2003) cases.66 These cases concerned night fl ights over
Heathrow Airport which, as was argued by the applicants, disturbed their
sleep. The United Kingdom Government conducted several research
studies, and in 1993 issued the Consultation Paper, which stated that the
number of disturbances caused by aircraft noise was so small that &it had
63 It must be noted, however, that eight out of 20 judges expressed the view in their separate
opinions that a positive duty to collect and disseminate information might exist under
certain circumstances.
64 Guerra and Others, supra note 39.
65 Ibid., at para. 75.
66 Hatton and others v. United Kingdom, ECtHR, Judgment of the Chamber of 2 October
2001 (hereinafter the &fi rst Hatton case*); Hatton and Others v. United Kingdom, ECtHR,
Judgment of the Grand Chamber of 8 July 2003 (hereinafter the &second Hatton case*). See
on the fi rst Hatton case H. Post, &Hatton and Other: Further Clarifi cation of the ※Indirect§
Individual Right to a Healthy Environment*. 2 Non-State Actors and International Law
(2002) 259, at 259每77; R. Smith, &Hatton v. United Kingdom*, 96 AJIL (2002) 692, at 692每9;
A. Layard, &Night Flights: A Surprising Victory*, 4 Envtl. L. Rev. (2002) 51, at 51每61; on
the second Hatton case see H. Post, &Judgment of the Grand Chamber in the Hatton and
Others v. United Kingdom, or What is Left of the Indirect Right to a Healthy Environment*,
4 Non-State Actors and International Law (2004) 135, at 135每57; C. Miller, &Environmental
Rights in a Welfare State? A Comment on DeMerieux*, 23 Oxford J. Legal Stud. (2003) 111,
at 111每25.
188 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
a negligible eff ect on overall normal disturbances and that disturbances
rates from all causes were not at the level likely to aff ect people*s health
and well-being*.67 Based on the 1994 Scheme, each aircraft type was
assigned, a &quota count* between 0.5 QC and 16QC. Heathrow Airport
was then allotted a certain number of quota points and the aircraft
movements had to be kept to within the permitted total point number.68
Aircraft operators could then select whether to operate a greater number
of quieter aircraft, or fewer noisier ones. Night fl ights of noisier aircrafts
were prohibited and night fl ights were based on the &night quota period*
(which varied between the summer and winter periods). The new Scheme
of 1999 did not introduce any major changes as regards the situation of
night fl ights at Heathrow Airport. The applicants argued the violation of
Articles 8 and 13 of the ECHR. The UK Government argued that night
fl ights were necessary for the country*s well-being since they constituted
an integral part of the global network of air services, inexorably linked
with day-time fl ights. The government sought the justifi cation for such
fl ights under Article 8, paragraph 2, of the ECHR.69 It also argued that
the night fl ights scheme for all major London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick
and Stansted) was more restrictive than in any other main European
hub airport, such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and
Frankfurt, and the imposition of even more restrictions would adversely
aff ect the competitiveness of Heathrow Airport. The applicants, however,
challenged this assertion, and observed that other leading world business
centres such as Berlin, Zurich and Tokyo introduced a total ban at their
airports on passenger night fl ights.70 On 2 October 2001, the Chamber of
the ECtHR observed that Heathrow Airport and the aircraft used were
not owned, controlled or operated by the UK Government or its agents.
The Chamber considered that, accordingly, the United Kingdom could
not be said to have &interfered* with the applicants* private or family life.
Rather, the applicants* complaints fell to be analysed in terms of a positive
duty on the State to take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure
the applicants* rights under Article 8, paragraph 1, of the Convention.71
67 The second Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 40.
68 Ibid., at para. 44. The 1993 Scheme defi ned the &night* as the period between 11 p.m.
and 7 a.m. and the &night quota period* as between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.
69 British Airways PLC (BA) in its written comments stated that the ban on some of the
night fl ights at Heathrow Airport would have a disastrous and disproportionate eff ect on
its competitiveness, due to damage to the network and to scheduling problems, especially
for long-haul arrivals. However, the Applicants submitted a report by Berkeley Hanover
Consulting disputing these allegations.
70 First Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 114.
71 Ibid., at para. 95.
The human right to a clean environment 189
The Chamber referred to the &fair balance* which must be struck between
the competing interests of the individual and the community as a whole. In
both contexts, the Chamber admitted, the State enjoyed a certain margin
of appreciation in determining steps to be taken to ensure compliance with
the Convention.72 The Chamber explained that in striking the required
balance States must consider the whole range of material considerations.
Further, in the particularly sensitive fi eld of environmental protection,
mere reference to the economic well-being of the country was not suffi cient
to outweigh the rights of others. The Chamber considered that States were
required to minimize, as far as possible, interference with rights under
Article 8 by trying to fi nd alternative solutions and by generally seeking
to achieve their aims in the least onerous manner as regards human rights.
To achieve that, a proper and complete study, with the aim of fi nding the
best possible solution that would in reality strike the right balance, should
precede the relevant project.73 The Chamber found that despite the margin
of appreciation left to States, the UK Government, in the implementation
of the 1993 Scheme, failed to strike a fair balance between the country*s
economic well-being and the applicants* eff ective enjoyment of their right
to respect for their homes and family lives, and therefore contravened
Article 8 of the ECHR.74
As to Article 13, the applicants argued the lack of private law rights in
relation to excessive night noise as a consequence of the statutory exclusion
of liability in section 76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. According to
them the limits inherent in an application for judicial review meant that it
was not an eff ective remedy, in particular the fact that the issues arising
under Article 8 could not be addressed in a process of judicial review, and
that the arguments which had been raised by the local authorities concerning
the substance of Article 8 in the four applications for judicial review
were rejected on the ground that they fell outside the scope of the Grand
Chamber*s power of review. They also mentioned the high cost of lodging
an application for judicial review.75
The UK Government denied any arguable claim by the applicants of
a violation of Article 8 and argued that, accordingly, no issue of entitlement
to a remedy under Article 13 arose. Alternatively, it submitted that,
as the requirements of Article 13 are less strict than and are subsumed by
those of Article 6, and as Article 6 would have applied had it not been for
the exclusion of liability in section 76 of the 1982 Act, no separate issue
72 Ibid., at para. 96.
73 Ibid., at para. 97.
74 Ibid., at para. 107.
75 Ibid., at para. 110.
190 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
arose under Article 13. It contended that the remedy of judicial review
was available to the applicants. It also noted the wide margin of discretion
enjoyed by national authorities in relation to the decision to implement the
1993 scheme. It also claimed that judicial review was an eff ective remedy
and that courts had the power to set aside schemes on a variety of administrative
law grounds (for example, irrationality, unlawfulness or patent
unreasonableness).76
The Chamber held that Article 13 has been interpreted by the Court as
requiring a remedy in domestic law only in respect of grievances which
could be regarded as &arguable* in terms of the Convention. In the present
case, there has been a fi nding of a violation of Article 8, and the complaint
under Article 13 must therefore be considered. Section 76 of the 1982 Act
prevents actions in nuisance in respect of excessive noise caused by aircraft
at night. The Chamber addressed the question whether the applicants
had a remedy at national level to enforce the substance of the Convention
rights to be secured in the domestic legal order. It was on this basis that
judicial review was held to comply with the requirements of Article 13. In
one of the cases, the Chamber concluded that judicial review was not an
eff ective remedy on the ground that the domestic courts defi ned policy
issues so broadly that it was not possible for the applicants to make their
Convention points regarding their rights under Article 8 in the domestic
courts. The Chamber observed:
it is clear that the scope of review by the domestic courts was limited to the
classic English public law concepts, such as irrationality, unlawfulness and
patent unreasonableness, and did not allow consideration of whether the
increase in night fl ights under the 1993 scheme represented a justifi able limitation
on their right to respect for the private and family lives or the homes of
those who live in the vicinity of Heathrow airport. In these circumstances, the
Grand Chamber considers that the scope of review by the domestic courts in the
present case was not suffi cient to comply with Article 13.77
The Chamber therefore found that there had been a violation of Article 13
of the Convention.
Judge Greve, in her partly dissenting opinion (as to Article 8 but not
Article 13), expressed the view that in the light of the wide margin of
appreciation in such cases, it was suffi cient to rely only on the limited
scope of facts submitted by the Government, i.e. that the UK Government
conducted a suffi cient inquiry into the noise generated by the night fl ights
76 Ibid., at paras 111每12.
77 Ibid., at paras 114每15.
The human right to a clean environment 191
and that the relevant decision-making process was correct. Sir Brian Kerr
dissented from the judgment in relation to both Articles 8 and 13. His dissenting
opinion may be summarized as follows: the signifi cant interference
with the applicants* private lives had not been established (they retained
the freedom to move elsewhere and house prices were not aff ected); the
UK Government had conducted a suffi cient inquiry into the noise eff ects
of night fl ights and had introduced several protective measures, and had
therefore complied with the prohibition of undue interference in private
life; that night fl ights undoubtedly contributed to the country*s economic
well-being; and, fi nally, that the requirement of more detailed research
would place a very heavy burden on the Government. He also opposed
the fi ndings of the majority as regards the test of minimum interference in
this case as diffi cult to reconcile with the principle of the margin of appreciation.
The applicants presented very few arguments to substantiate their
claim and the macro-economic issue outbalanced these. Therefore such
cases should have been dealt with more properly within the political rather
than the judicial sphere. As regards Article 13, he claimed that it is limited
to cases in which grievances are arguable under the Convention, whilst in
the Hatton case, Article 8 was not arguable, as claims under it &must so
clearly be decided in the Government*s favour*.
The UK Government requested the referral of the case to the Grand
Chamber. It strongly objected in its written and oral submissions to the
&minimum interference* approach as outlined in paragraph 97 of the judgment
in the fi rst Hatton case. The Government argued that this test, in the
context of the Hatton case, was at variance with the jurisprudence of the
Grand Chamber and was, in principle, unwarranted. It claimed that
the test &reduced to vanishing-point the margin of appreciation* accorded
to States in an &area involving diffi cult and complex balancing of a variety
of competing interests and factors*.78 The Government stressed that the
number of very sensitive issues that were involved in that case were better
resolved by national authorities, as they were better placed than a Grand
Chamber to evaluate local conditions.79 Furthermore, it was observed that
in this context the Grand Chamber played a supervisory role.80
On the other hand, the applicants argued that the aircraft noise was
capable of infringing the rights protected by Article 8, that the States
had a positive duty to ensure adequate protection of these rights, that
in this case the States had struck the wrong balance between competing
78 Second Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 87.
79 Ibid., at para. 88.
80 Ibid., at para. 89.
192 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
interests81 and that in the case of sleep deprivation, the margin of appreciation
should be narrow, since it was a matter that could be judged only
by similar standards in similar Contracting Parties.82 The applicants also
argued that the doctrine of the margin of appreciation does not play a role
in this case, since an international judge was well placed to evaluate the
adequacy of the procedural safeguard applied by the State.
The Grand Chamber stated in no uncertain terms that &there is no
explicit right under the Convention to a clean and quiet environment*, and
that only when the &individual is directly and seriously aff ected by noise or
other pollution, an issue may arise under Article 8*.83 The Grand Chamber
reiterated the fundamentally subsidiary role of the Grand Chamber in such
cases. National authorities have direct democratic legitimacy and are, as
was stressed several times by the Grand Chamber, better placed than an
international tribunal to assess local needs and conditions. In matters of
general policy, which may involve diff erent opinions contained within
democratic society, the role of domestic policy-makers should be given
special weight; in particular in matters relating to the implementation of
social and economic policies, where the margin of appreciation should
be wide.84 Further, the ECtHR made a very important comment that
in cases like Hatton, involving State decisions on environmental issues,
there are two aspects to be analysed by the Grand Chamber. First, it may
evaluate the substantive merits of the Government*s decision, to ensure
compatibility with Article 8; secondly, it may assess the decision-making
process to ensure that the interests of an individual have been granted
due weight.85 The Grand Chamber also noted the importance of striking
the required balance between the interests of the individual and the community,
a task which enjoys a certain margin of appreciation on the part
of the Government in the determination of the steps to be taken to ensure
compliance with the Convention and the implementation of a positive duty
deriving from Article 8, paragraph 1, of the ECHR. In striking the required
balance, the aims mentioned in paragraph 2 may be of certain relevance.86
The Grand Chamber once again expressed its staunch support for the
wide margin of appreciation in cases such as Hatton. It explained, as it
did in many earlier cases, that it is a task for national authorities to make
an initial assessment of the &necessity* for interference, as regards both the
81 Ibid., at para. 90.
82 Ibid., at para. 91.
83 Ibid., at para. 96.
84 Ibid., at para. 98.
85 Ibid., at para. 99.
86 Ibid., at para. 97.
The human right to a clean environment 193
legislative framework and the particular measures of implementation. The
Grand Chamber*s task is to review such a national measure. The margin
of appreciation is not identical in each case, but will vary depending on the
context involving the nature of the conventional rights at issue, its importance
and the nature of the activities concerned.87 In cases such as Hatton,
the Grand Chamber also acknowledged the importance of taking into
account, while balancing the interests of the community and the individual
and evaluating the margin of appreciation, the applicant*s right in respect
of &home*, a right which pertains to the applicant and children*s personal
security and well-being. Furthermore, since it concerns procedural safeguards,
while Article 8 contains no explicit procedural requirements, the
decision-making process resulting in interference &must be fair and such as
to aff ord due respect for interests safeguarded to the individual by Article
8*. 88
In the second Hatton case, one of the main tasks before the Grand
Chamber was to adjudge the issues of the scope of the applicable margin
of appreciation. The Government and the applicants represented very
confl icting views. The Government advocated a wide margin of appreciation
on the ground that the case concerned a matter of general policy. The
applicants argued that where the ability to slip is aff ected, the scope of the
margin of appreciation is narrow because of the &intimate* nature of
the rights safeguarded. The ECtHR made a very important statement that
the confl ict of views on the scope of the margin of appreciation can be
resolved only by reference to the context of a particular case.89 The Grand
Chamber observed that in the Hatton case the noise disturbances complained
of were not caused by the State or by State organs, but originated
from the activities of private operators and that:
It may be argued that the changes brought about by the 1993 Scheme are to
be seen as a direct interference by the State with the Article 8 rights of the
persons concerned. On the other hand, the State*s responsibility in environmental
cases may also arise from a failure to regulate private industry in a
manner securing proper respect for the rights enshrined in Article 8 of the
Convention. As noted above . . . broadly similar principles apply whether
a case is analysed in terms of a positive duty on the State or in terms of
an interference by a public authority with Article 8 rights to be justifi ed
in accordance with paragraph 2 of this provision. The Grand Chamber is
not therefore required to decide whether the present case falls into the one
87 See, e.g., Buckley v. United Kingdom, Judgment of 25 September 1996, 23 EHRR
(1996) 101, at 129.
88 Second Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 101, citing paras 74 and 75 of the Buckley
judgment.
89 Second Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 103.
194 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
category or the other. The question is whether, in the implementation of the
1993 policy on night fl ights at Heathrow Airport, a fair balance was struck
between the competing interests of the individuals aff ected by the night noise
and the community as a whole.90
The Grand Chamber further stated that:
The Grand Chamber must consider whether the State can be said to have struck
a fair balance between those interests and the confl icting interests of the persons
aff ected by noise disturbances, including the applicants. Environmental protection
should be taken into consideration by States in acting within their margin
of appreciation and by the Grand Chamber in its review of that margin, but it
would not be appropriate for the Grand Chamber to adopt a special approach
in this respect by reference to a special status of environmental human rights.
In this context the Grand Chamber must revert to the question of the scope of
the margin of appreciation available to the State when taking policy decisions
of the king at issue. . . .91
The ECtHR also emphasized that in this case, in contrast to other
similar cases before it, national authorities did not fail to comply with some
aspect of the domestic regime.92 The Grand Chamber then proceeded to
analyse all factors that have to be considered while striking a fair balance:
economic interests (the Grand Chamber assumed that night fl ights contributed
at least to a certain extent to the general economy); the availability
of measures adopted by the Government to mitigate the eff ects of aircraft
noise generally, including night noise (the Grand Chamber assessed these
measures as reasonable); that the cost of houses in this area had not
depreciated and people living there, if they so chose, could move elsewhere
without fi nancial loss and that this factor must be signifi cant to the overall
reasonableness of the general measure; and, fi nally, that it was &diffi cult
if not impossible to draw a clear line between the interests of the aviation
industry and the economic interests of the country as a whole*.93
As to the procedural aspect, the Grand Chamber stated:
the Grand Chamber notes that a governmental decision-making proceed concerning
complex issues of environmental and economic policy such as in the
present case must necessarily involve appropriate investigations and studies
in order to allow them to strike a fair balance between the various confl icting
interests at stake. However, this does not mean that decision can only be taken
if comprehensive and measurable data are available in relation to each and
90 Ibid., at para. 119.
91 Ibid., at para. 122.
92 Ibid., at para. 120.
93 Ibid., at para. 126.
The human right to a clean environment 195
every aspect of the matter to be decided. In this respect it is relevant that the
authorities have consistently monitored the situation, and that the 1993 Scheme
was the latest in a series of restrictions on night fl ights which stretched back to
1962. The position concerning research into sleep disturbance and night fl ights
is far from static, and it was the government*s policy to announce restrictions on
night fl ights for a maximum of fi ve years at a time, each new scheme taking into
account the research and other developments of the previous period. The 1993
Scheme had thus been preceded by a series of investigations and studies carried
out over a long period of time. The particular new measures introduced by that
scheme were announced to the public by way of a Consultation Paper which
referred to the results of a study carried out for the Department of Transport,
and which included a study of aircraft noise and sleep disturbance. It stated
that the quota was to be set so as not to allow a worsening of noise at night,
and ideally to improve the situation. This paper was published in January 1993
and sent to bodies representing the aviation industry and people living near
airports. The applicants and persons in a similar situation thus had access to
the Consultation Pater, and it would have been open to them to make any representations
they felt appropriate. Had any representations not been taken into
account, they could have challenged subsequent decision, or the scheme itself,
in the Grand Chambers. Moreover, the applicants are, or have been, members
of HACAN (see paragraph 1 above), and were thus particularly well-placed to
make representations. 94
Having taken all the above into consideration the Grand Chamber stated
as follows:
In these circumstances the Grand Chamber does not fi nd that, in substance,
the authorities overstepped their margin of appreciation by failing to strike a
fair balance between the right of the individuals aff ected by those regulations to
respect for their private life and home and the confl icting interests of others and
of the community as a whole, nor does it fi nd that there have been fundamental
procedural fl aws in the preparation of the 1993 regulations on limitations for
night fl ights.95
The Grand Chamber agreed with the fi ndings of the Chamber that there
were violations of Article 13, as the scope of the review was limited to
the classic English public law concepts, such as rationality, unlawfulness
and patent unreasonableness. Prior to the entry into force of the Human
Rights Act 1998, the consideration of whether the increase in night fl ights
under the 1993 Scheme represented a justifi able limitation on the right to
respect for the private and family life of persons living in the vicinity of
Heathrow Airport did not fall within the remit of judicial review. Therefore
the Grand Chamber found that the scope of the review by domestic Grand
94 Ibid., at para. 128.
95 Ibid., at para. 129.
196 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Chambers (ECtHR) was not suffi cient to comply with the requirements of
Article 13.
It may be noted that a minority of judges appended a powerful joint
dissenting opinion.96 The dissenting judges argued that the application
of the &evolutive* interpretation of the Convention leads to the construction
of the human right to a clean environment based on Article 8 of the
Convention:
In the fi eld of environmental human rights, which was practically unknown
in 1950, the Commission and the Court have increasingly taken the view that
Article 8 embraces the right to a healthy environment, and therefore to protection
against nuisance caused by harmful chemicals, off ensive smells, agents
which precipitate respiratory ailments, noise and so on.97
They further claimed that the Court had confi rmed on several occasions,
prior to the second Hatton case, such as in the Lopez-Ostra case, that
Article 8 guarantees the right to a healthy environment and that unfortunately
the judgment in the second Hatton case appeared to deviate from
these developments and &even takes [a] step backwards*,98 and that the UK
Government did not substantiate suffi ciently the economic importance of
Heathrow Airport for the country.
Commentators on the second Hatton case observed that the Court
favoured the less protective approach towards rights aiming at minimizing
States* interference with Article 8 rights, by seeking alternative solutions
and by trying to fulfi l their aims in the manner which was least damaging
to human rights.99 The Court in the second case reiterated its fi nding in
the Raynor and Powell case. The present author agrees with this assessment
of the judgment.
The jurisprudence of the Court in environmental matters was further
developed in the 2005 case of Fadeyeva v. Russia.100 The case related to
air pollution from a Severstal steel plant built in Soviet times, currently
privately owned. The plant was responsible for more than 95 per cent of
the industrial emissions into the town*s air. The applicant lived with her
family within the security zone and sought resettlement outside this zone.
96 Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Costa, Ress, T邦rmen, Zupančič and Steiner.
97 Ibid., at para. 2.
98 Ibid., at para. 5.
99 A. Layard, &Human Rights in the Balance 每 Hatton and Maricic*, 6 Envtl. L. Rev.
(2004) 196, at 201.
100 Case of Fadeyeva v. Russia, supra note 39; see P. Leach, &Stay Inside When the Wind
Blows Your Way 每 Engaging Environmental Rights with Human Rights: Fadeyeva v Russia
judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 9 June 2005*, 4 Envtl. Liability (2005)
91, at 91每7.
The human right to a clean environment 197
The applicant obtained the Court*s order to do so. However, there was
no priority waiting list and she was the 6,820th on the general waiting list.
Her case was dismissed in local, regional and national courts. She relied
on Article 8 of the ECHR.
There was no dispute as to the fact that the applicant*s place of residence
was aff ected by industrial pollution, nor was it disputed that the main
cause of pollution was the Severstal steel plant operating near the applicant*s
home. The degree of disturbance caused by Severstal and the eff ects
of pollution on the applicant were disputed by the parties. On one hand,
the applicant asserted that the pollution seriously aff ected her private life
and health; on the other hand, the respondent Government argued that
the degree of harm suff ered by the applicant was not such as to raise an
issue under Article 8 of the Convention. Therefore, the Court had fi rst to
establish whether the situation complained of by the applicant should be
examined under Article 8 of the Convention.101
The Court observed that Article 8 had formed a ground in several cases
involving environmental concern. However, it was not breached every time
that environmental deterioration occurred. The Court again noted that no
right to natural preservation as such was included among the rights and
freedoms guaranteed by the Convention. Thus, in order to raise an issue
under Article 8 specifi c conditions had to be fulfi lled: (a) the interference
had directly to aff ect the applicant*s home, family or private life; and (b) the
adverse eff ects of environmental pollution had to attain a certain minimum
level if they were to fall within the scope of Article 8.
The Court further clarifi ed that the assessment of that minimum level
was not general but relative, i.e. it depended on all the circumstances of the
case (such as the intensity and duration of the nuisance, and its physical or
mental eff ects). The general environmental context should also be taken
into account (for example, there would be no claim under Article 8 if the
harm complained of was negligible in comparison to the environmental
hazards inherent in life in every modern city). Therefore, in conclusion,
the Court said that:
in order to fall under Article 8, complaints relating to environmental nuisances
have to show, fi rst, that there was an actual interference with the applicant*s
private sphere, and, second, that a level of severity was attained.102
The Court noted that the State recognized many times that the environmental
situation in the town of Cherepovets caused an increase in the morbidity
101 Case of Fadeyeva v. Russia, supra note 39, at paras 67 and 68.
102 Ibid., at para. 70.
198 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
rate for the city*s residents.103 The Court stressed that the domestic courts
recognized the applicant*s right to be resettled and that the domestic
legislation itself defi ned the zone in which the applicant*s house was situated
as unfi t for habitation. &Therefore, it can be said that the existence of
interference with the applicant*s private sphere was taken for granted at
the domestic level.*104 The Court accepted that the actual detriment to the
applicant*s health and well-being had reached a level suffi cient to bring it
within the scope of Article 8 of the Convention.105 Further the Court reiterated
statements made in the second Hatton case. The Court noted that,
at the relevant time, the Severstal steel plant was not owned, controlled
or operated by the State. Consequently, the Russian Federation had not
directly interfered with the applicant*s private life or home. However, the
Court observed that the State*s responsibility in environmental cases might
arise from a failure to regulate private industry. Therefore, the applicant*s
complaints fell to be analysed in terms of a positive duty on the State to
take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure the applicant*s rights
under Article 8, paragraph 1, of the Convention. The Court fi rst assessed
&whether the State could reasonably be expected to act so as to prevent or
put an end to the alleged infringement of the applicant*s rights*.106 The
Severstal steel plant was built by and initially belonged to the State, and
from the beginning had contaminated and caused health problems and
nuisance to many people in Cherepovets. In 1993, the plant was privatized.
However, the State exercised control over the plant through the imposition
of operating conditions and supervision of their implementation. The
plant was subjected to inspections by the State environmental agency, and
administrative penalties were imposed on the plant*s owner and management.
The municipal authorities knew of the environmental situation and
imposed certain sanctions.107
In this case, the Court gave further guidance on the application of Article
8, paragraph 2, of the ECHR, drawing on its previous jurisprudence, i.e.
it interpreted the doctrine of proportionality. The Court discussed the
general principles, &the legitimate aim*, and &necessary in a democratic
society*. The Court confi rmed that in the event of a breach of a positive
duty or direct interference by the State, the applicable principles regarding
justifi cation under Article 8, paragraph 2, in order to balance the rights of
an individual and the interests of the community as a whole are similar. To
103 Ibid., at para. 85.
104 Ibid., at para. 86.
105 Ibid., at para. 88.
106 Ibid., at para. 89.
107 Ibid., at para. 90.
The human right to a clean environment 199
be compatible with paragraph 2, direct interference by the State with the
exercise of Article 8 rights must be in accordance with the law. The breach
of domestic law in these cases would result in a violation of the Convention.
However, the choice of means where there is a duty for the State to take
positive measures is, in principle, a matter of the States* margin of appreciation.
There are various means to ensure &respect for private life*, and a
State which has failed to apply one particular measure provided by domestic
law may fi nd an alternative way to fulfi l its positive duty. &Therefore,
in those cases the criterion &in accordance with the law* of the justifi cation
test cannot be applied in the same way as in cases of direct interference by
the State.*108 The Court further observed that in all previous cases of environmental
breaches, a failure by the national authorities to comply with
some aspect of the domestic legal regime played a pivotal role. Therefore,
in cases where the applicant complains about the State*s failure to protect
Convention rights, domestic legality should be assessed:
not as a separate and conclusive test, but rather as one of may aspects which
should be taken into account in assessing whether the State has struck a &fair
balance* in accordance with Article 8 ∫2.109
In relation to &legitimate aim*, the Court made following statements:
Where the State is required to take positive measures in order to strike a fair
balance between the interests of the applicant and the community as a whole,
the aims mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 8 may be of a certain
relevance, although this provision refers only to &interferences* with the right
protected by the fi rst paragraph 每 in other words, it is concerned with the negative
obligations fl owing there from.110
The essential justifi cation off ered by the Government for the refusal to
resettle the applicant was the protection of the interests of other residents
of Cherepovets who, just like the applicant, were entitled to free housing
under the domestic legislation. The municipality had only limited resources
at its disposal with which to off er housing, and the applicant*s immediate
resettlement would breach the rights of others on the waiting lists. The
respondent Government argued the importance of the plant for the economic
well-being of the country. The Court was of the view that the operation
of the steel plant in question contributed to the economic system of the
Volga region, and therefore served a legitimate aim within the meaning of
108 Ibid., at para. 96. See also paras 94每5.
109 Ibid., at para 98.
110 Ibid., at para. 99.
200 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Article 8, paragraph 2, of the Convention. However, the issue to be determined
is &whether, in pursuing this aim, the authorities have struck a fair
balance between the interests of the applicant and those of the community
as a whole*.111
The Court then analysed the meaning of &necessary in a democratic
society*. The Court confi rmed that a margin of appreciation is best left to
the national authorities, who are in principle better placed than an international
court to assess local needs and conditions. The Court, however,
reviews whether the justifi cation given by the State is relevant and suffi
cient, leaving it to the national authorities to make the initial assessment
of &necessity*.112 The Court also chose to refrain from revising domestic
environmental policies (e.g. in the Hatton case the Court held that it would
not be appropriate for the Court to adopt a special approach in this respect
by reference to a special status of environmental human rights113. The Court
explained that:
the complexity of the issues involved with regard to environmental protection
renders the Court*s role primarily a subsidiary one. The Court must fi rst
examine whether the decision-making process was fair and whether it aff orded
due respect to the interests safeguarded to the individual by Article 8 and only
in exceptional circumstances may it go beyond this line and revise the material
conclusions of the domestic authorities.114
The Court, having interpreted and analysed the implementation of
Article 8 of the ECHR, found that the Russian Federation:
despite the wide margin of appreciation left to the respondent State . . . failed to
strike a fair balance between the interest of the community and the applicant*s
eff ective enjoyment of her right to respect for her home and her private life.
There has accordingly been a violation of Article 8.115
Although in this case the applicant won, it may be said that the Court
had confi rmed the main principles elaborated in relation to the interpretation
of Article 8 (as laid down in the second Hatton case) in adjudicating the
111 Ibid., at para. 100.
112 Ibid., at paras 102每103. For example, in 1991 in Fredin v. Sweden, the Court recognized
that &in today*s society the protection of the environment is an increasingly important
consideration*, and held that the interference with a private property right (revoking the
applicant*s licence to extract gravel from his property on the grounds of nature conservation)
was not inappropriate or disproportionate in the context of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to
the Convention.
113 Second Hatton case, supra note 66, at para. 122.
114 Ibid., at para. 105.
115 Ibid., at para. 134.
The human right to a clean environment 201
cases with alleged breaches of &environmental rights*. The Court adhered
to a wide margin of appreciation and the strict application of this Article to
environmental breaches. Most importantly, the Court emphasized that the
catalogue of rights contained in the ECHR does not include human right
to a clean environment, and environmental issues, in so far as they relate
to human rights, are relevant only in the context of their eff ect on home,
private and family life, i.e. within the legal framework of Article 8, not as
an independent human right to a clean environment.
Finally, mention must be made of two cases before the ECtHR which have
an environmental element and were brought before it on the basis of Article
2 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention: the 2002 and 2004 case of
Öneryıldız v. Turkey116 and the 2008 case of Budayeva and Others v. Russia.117
The fi rst of these cases was fi rst subject of a judgment of the Chamber of
the Court and, upon appeal from the Government of Turkey, the Grand
Chamber issued a judgment which upheld the fi ndings of the Chamber.
Broadly speaking, the case concerned a vast waste-collection site, set up in
contravention of the Environmental Act and the Regulations on Solid-Waste
Control. This waste site was near to the slum dwelling area. In April 1993, a
methane explosion occurred at the site. It was followed by a mudslide caused
by increasing pressure. The refuse erupted from the mountain of waste and
engulfed some ten slum dwellings situated below it. Thirty-nine people died in
the accident. The Grand Chamber agreed with the Chamber*s fi nding that the
administrative and municipal authorities knew or ought to have known that
there was a real and an immediate risk to certain people living in the vicinity
of the rubbish tip. Therefore they had a positive obligation under Article 2
of the Convention to take preventive operational measures necessary and
suffi cient to protect those individuals, especially as they themselves had set
up the site and authorized its operation. These authorities acted in contravention
of the above-mentioned law and acted against the recommendation of
the Environmental Offi ce of the Prime Minister. Similar fi ndings relate to the
legal ground of the case based on Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR.
The Court also found a causal link between gross negligence attributable
to the State and the loss of human lives. According to the Court the
resulting infringement does not amount to interference but to the breach
of positive obligation, &since the State offi cials and authorities did not do
everything within their power to protect the applicant*s proprietary interests*
(paragraph 135).
The Budayeva et al. cases relate to the alleged negligence of the authorities
116 Case of Öneryıldız v. Turkey, supra note 39.
117 Case of Budayeva and Others v. Russia, supra note 39.
202 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
in the city of Tyranauz in 2000 to mitigate the result of the mudslide, which
resulted in deaths and the destruction of property. The facts of this case
are very similar those in Öneryıldız. Therefore, the reasoning in this case is
based on that in the latter case and the Court often refers to the Öneryıldız
case whilst developing the argument in Budayeva et al.
In the Budayeva case, the Chamber of the Court, just as in the Öneryıldız
case, analysed the applicability of Article 2 of the ECHR. First, it stated
that Article 2 does not solely concern deaths resulting from the use of force
by agents of the State, but it also, in the fi rst sentence of its fi rst paragraph,
lays down a positive obligation on States to take appropriate measures to
safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdiction. This obligation fi rst
imposes on a State a duty to promulgate a legislative and administrative
framework designed to provide eff ective deterrence against the threats to life.
This, as was stated in the Öneryıldız case, must be applied within the context
of any activity, public or private, &in which the right to life may be at stake*
(paragraph 130). The Court has interpreted the obligation of a State to safeguard
the lives of those within its jurisdiction as to include both substantive
and procedural aspects, i.e. a positive obligation to take regulatory measures
and adequately inform the public about any life-threatening emergency, and
to ensure that any deaths caused thereby would be followed by a judiciary
enquiry. The Court further explained what is meant by the substantive aspect
in the particular context of dangerous activities. Special emphasis must be
placed on regulations aimed at the special features of the activity in question,
with special attention to the level of the potential risk to human lives. Such
regulations must govern the licensing, setting up, operation, security and
supervision of the activity and must make it compulsory for all concerned to
take practical measures to ensure the eff ective protection of citizens whose
lives may be endangered by the inherent risks. These preventive measures
include most importantly the public*s right to information, as established in
the case law of the Convention*s institutions. The relevant regulations must
also provide the appropriate procedures, considering the technical aspects
of the activity, for the purpose of identifying shortcomings in the processes
concerned and any errors committed by those responsible at diff erent levels.
Very interestingly, the Court stated that in the context of dangerous
activities the scope of the positive obligations under Article 2 largely overlaps
with those under Article 8. Consequently, the principles developed in
the Court*s jurisprudence relating to planning and environmental matters
aff ecting private life and home may also be relied on for protection of the
right to life. The Court stressed in the case, as in many other cases with an
environmental component, that as to the choice of practical, positive measures,
the choice of means principally falls within the Contracting Parties*
margin of appreciation. As the Chamber stated:
The human right to a clean environment 203
There are diff erent avenues to ensure Convention*s rights, and even if a State
has failed to apply one particular means provided by domestic law, it may still
fulfi l its positive duty by other means,
as was stated in, inter alia, Fadeyeva v. Russia.
As regards the scope of the margin of appreciation, an impossible or
disproportionate burden must not be imposed on the authorities without
consideration being given, in particular, to operational choices which
they must make in terms of priorities and resources, in diffi cult social and
technical spheres, as was explained in the Hatton case, especially in cases
of meteorological events beyond human control.
The assessment of the compliance by a State with the positive obligation
is made by the Court on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the following
circumstances, such as: the domestic legality of the authorities* acts or
omissions (as was indicated in the Lopez-Ostra case; the domestic decisionmaking
process (including appropriate investigations and studies); and the
complexity of the issue, especially when confl icting interests are involved
(as indicated in the Hatton et al. and Fadeyeva cases. The Court stressed
the particular circumstances of cases when natural disaster strikes. The
State in cases of this kind is protecting human rights through the mitigation
of natural hazards. The scope of the positive obligation imputable to
the State in the particular circumstances would depend on the origin of
the threat and the extent to which one or the other risk is susceptible to
mitigation. Article 2 of the Convention imposes an obligation on a State,
when human lives have been lost in circumstances potentially engaging
the responsibility of the State, to ensure by all means at its disposal an
adequate response, such as, inter alia, a judicial one, so that the legislative
and administrative framework set up to protect the right to life is
properly implemented and that any breaches of that right are suppressed
and punished.
In this regard the Court observed that, if the infringement of the right to
life or to physical integrity is not caused intentionally, the positive obligation
to set up an effi cient judicial system does not necessarily entail that
criminal proceedings have to be brought in every case and may be satisfi ed
if civil, administrative or even disciplinary remedies were at the disposal of
victims. The Court also emphasized that in cases such as this, individuals
must have an access to impartial proceedings.118
Special mention must be made of the Taskin case which confi rms the
right to appeal of people against any decision, act or omission &where they
118 Ibid., at paras 128每45.
204 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
consider that their interests or their comments have not been give suffi cient
weight in the decision-making process*.119 Boyle observes that this refl ects
the requirements of the Aarhus Convention (Article 9) and Principle 10 of
the 1992 Rio Declaration.
IV. CONCLUSIONS
Over a period of several years the ECtHR has developed an impressive
jurisprudence concerning cases with a certain environmental element. The
relevant Articles which were the legal ground for bringing the cases were
mostly Articles 8 and 2. The Court made several very important statements
as to the applicability of these Articles in environmental matters, as well
as obligations of the States Parties to the Convention deriving from these
Articles in cases with environmental concerns.
The following conclusions may be drawn from the relevant case law of
the ECtHR regarding environmental claims:
(i) There is no &environmental* human right in the catalogue of human
rights protected by the Convention, and Article 8 may be invoked
only when the individual is directly and seriously aff ected by noise
or other pollution;
(ii) Environmental considerations are only one of the elements taken
into account while balancing the interests of the individual against
those of the community in order to strike a fair balance, and there
is no special status of environmental human rights;
(iii) Democratically elected national authorities are best placed to
balance the variety of competing interests and factors that may arise
in relation to Article 8;
(iv) The State enjoys a wide margin of appreciation in such cases;
(v) The ECHR has in principle a subsidiary role;
(vi) The Court plays only a supervisory subsidiary role;
(vii) Proof of interference by a State is not necessary as the State has a
&positive duty* to safeguard the rights under Article 8;
(viii) State responsibility in environmental cases may arise from a failure
to regulate private industry; and
(ix) Compliance with national laws by a State is one of the important
elements taken into account while applying a balancing of interests
test.
119 Taskin v. Turkey, supra note 39, at 119.
The human right to a clean environment 205
In order to raise an issue under Article 8 specifi c conditions must be
fulfi lled:
(i) the interference must directly aff ect the applicant*s home, family or
private life; and
(ii) the adverse eff ects of environmental pollution must attain a certain
minimum level if they are to fall within the scope of Article 8. The
Court further clarifi ed that the assessment of that minimum is not
general but relative, i.e. it depends on all the circumstances of the
case (such as the intensity and durati,on of the nuisance, its physical
or mental eff ects). The general environmental context should also
be taken into account (for example, there would be no claim under
Article 8 if the harm complained of was negligible in comparison to
the environmental hazards inherent in life in every modern city).
As to Article 2 of the ECHR applicable in cases with environmental
element the following fi ndings are relevant:
(i) States are to take appropriate measures (legal and administrative) to
safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdiction;
(ii) The State has a duty to promulgate a legislative and administrative
framework designed to provide eff ective deterrence against the
threats to life;
(iii) In cases like this, Article 2 can be treated like Article 8 (duty to
protect private life and home); and
(iv) States have an extensive margin of appreciation.
Boyle poses the question whether such a right to a clean (healthy) environment
should be created. He is of the view that such a right would be
less anthropocentric than the contemporary law. It would overcome the
drawback of the present situation that environmental claims can only
aff ect one individual whereas such a right would benefi t society as a whole
and enable NGOs to challenge environmentally detrimental behaviour on
public interest grounds. However, Boyle is at the same time aware of the
unavoidable defi nitional problems in postulating environmental rights in
&any qualitative terms*.120 There are positive consequences of looking at
the environmental issues through other human rights, such as the right to
life; the right to enjoyment of property; and private life. It brings attention
to the most important matters: the detriment to internationally protected
120 Boyle, supra note 38, at 507.
206 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
values from unsustainable environmental harm.121 According to Boyle
this is an approach which does not require the defi ning of such notions
as satisfactory or decent environment, and falls within the competence of
the human rights courts and does not confl ict with environmental institutions
or the Conferences of the Parties of environmental treaties. Such a
right to a clean environment would also be diff erent for the developed and
developing countries. There is no fully satisfactory solution regarding a
substantive environmental right. Therefore, Boyle advocates the approach
that it is in the particular interest of a society to determine what constitutes
sustainable development and acceptable environment. The crux of
the matter is to ensure the right process for this determination, at national
and international levels, rather than to defi ne the substantive content of
such a right.122 It may be said as well that the approach of the ECHR to
environmental matters although impressive, is still rather of piecemeal
than consistent character.
121 One of the most interesting cases concerning the right to the environment was Aff aire
Tătar v Roumanie, Judgment of 27 January 2009 (request no. 670221/01). In this case, the
Court found the State violated Article 8 of the ECHR by breaching the duty of care and
failed to put in place relevant legislation. The Court as well observed non-compliance by the
State with the precautionary principle and the rights with the right to information and the
participatory right under the Aarhus Convention, to which Rumania is a party.
122 Boyle, supra note 8, at 504每511.
207
5. Conclusions
It is not easy to draw general conclusions on a book which consists of essays
on various subjects. However, the main idea of the book was to show how
many concepts are taken for granted, such as the precautionary principle
or the concept of sustainable development, which are in fact still evolving
and cause controversy and very heated discussions between scholars
and between States. Therefore, many views which purport to be defi nitive
answers to contemporary issues express only one view on the problem.
However, these controversies have to be viewed as a positive development
of international environmental law, which is not static but in a constant
state of fl ux. It is not just State practice which is constantly evolving, but
the jurisprudence of international courts and tribunals which clarifi es and
crystallizes the concepts of international environmental law, at the general
background of international law, such as the Biotech products case before
the WTO, which made certain statements on the precautionary principle
and the 2006 Order of the ICJ in the Pulp Mills case (Argentina v. Uruguay),
which made pronouncements on the concept of sustainable development.
Mention must also be made of human rights courts, such as the ECtHR, the
case law of which made a very important contribution to the understanding
of the connection between human rights and the environment and the
concept of the so-called right to a clean (decent) environment. International
environmental law also infl uenced the development of general international
law. Several topics undertaken by the International Law Commission,
such as International Liability for Injurious Consequences Arising out of
Acts not Prohibited by International Law; Prevention of Transboundary
Damage from Hazardous Activities; Shared Natural Resources, are related
to international environmental law. The decisions of international courts
and tribunals, frequently through deciding cases with environmental elements,
develop other areas of international law. An example of this was the
1997 Gabčikovo-Nagymaros (Hungary v. Slovakia) case, which crystallized
certain issues of State responsibility and the law of treaties through the consideration
of the issues of international environmental law.
The above observations on the role of international courts and tribunals
in the development of international environmental law strengthen the view
that international environmental law is part and parcel of and plays a signifi
cant role in the development of international law.
208
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223
Index
access to information 173, 174, 175,
202
art 10 ECHR: receive and impart
information 180, 181, 183,
186每7
air pollution 196每201
Alder, J. 127
animals 117, 125, 126
charitable trusts 131
anticipatory model 3每4
precautionary principle see
precautionary principle
Australia 62
autonomy, State 64
Baltic Sea area
Helsinki Convention 57每8
precautionary principle 58每62
oil pollution 41
sustainable development
Baltic 21 91, 92, 95每7
Baltic 21: current developments
98每104
CBSS: 2003 Declaration 91每2, 95,
97, 103
HELCOM 92每3, 98, 100, 103每4
management, system of 91每2,
111
Bangladesh 141每2
Barry, B. 115, 119
Beckerman, W. 79每80, 119每20, 121,
127
Belgium 53
Beyerlin, U. 81每2
biodiversity
precautionary principle 64每5
Bodansky, D. 4每5
Boissons de Chazournes, L. 28, 29
Bourg, D. 151
Boyle, A. 6每7, 68, 69, 70, 82, 85每6, 144,
181, 204, 205每6
Brown Weiss, E. 113, 114, 115, 116,
123每7, 128, 129, 136, 145, 147
Brundtland Commission 72, 81, 105,
141, 150
Canada
oil pollution 41
carbon dioxide, sequestration of 54每5,
56每7
CBDR (common but diff erentiated
responsibilities) 72每3, 77每8
chaos theory 125
charitable trusts 130每31
China 40
oil tankers 46每7
Christie, D. 132每4
climate change
intergenerational equity 112每13,
122每3
common but diff erentiated
responsibilities (CBDR) 72每3, 77每8
constitutions
intergenerational equity 148每53, 169
Philippines 136每41
Cordonier Segger, M.-C. 78, 79, 104
cost-benefi t analysis (CBA) 10, 31
intergenerational equity 127
cost eff ectiveness
precautionary principle 44, 48, 61, 63
Cullet, I. 73
curative model 3
cy-pr豕s doctrine 130每31
D*Amato, A. 125
DDT 60
Denmark 101
developing countries 172
common but diff erentiated
responsibilities (CBDR) 72每3,
77每8
precautionary principle 63
224 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
development, integration of
environment and 70每72, 85每7,
104每5
Dierksmeier, C. 117每18
Dimas, Stavros 87
double-hull and single-hull tankers 42,
45每6, 48
Drumbl, M. 115每16
dumping at sea 49每50
precautionary principle 50每55
Dworkin, R. 6
ECHR and right to clean
environment 170, 178每80, 204每6,
207
art 2: right to life 181, 201每3, 205
art 3: inhuman and degrading
treatment 183
art 6: fair hearing 181, 183
art 8: family and private life 180,
181, 183, 185, 205
air pollution 196每201
noise pollution 184每5, 187每96
qualifi ed rights 184
toxic emissions 187
waste treatment plant 185每6
art 10: freedom of expression 180,
181, 183, 186每7
art 13: eff ective remedy 183, 189每90,
191, 195每6
balancing of interests test 178, 179,
184, 185, 186, 187, 189, 192,
194, 198, 200
case law 181每204
ECtHR
subsidiary role 185, 192, 200
margin of appreciation 178, 179每81,
185, 189, 190每93, 195, 199, 200,
201, 203
proportionality 178, 184, 198
Protocol 1: right to property 180,
181, 183每4, 201
state
domestic legality of acts/omissions
of 194, 199, 203
noise pollution 185, 188每9
positive obligation 188, 192, 198,
202, 203
supervisory/regulatory duty 186,
198
economic development
integration of environment and
72每4, 87每9, 104每5
environmental impact assessment
(EIA) 174, 175
Helsinki Convention 57
precautionary principle and 64
European Convention on Human
Rights see ECHR and right to
clean environment
European Union
oil pollution 45每7
single-hull and double-hull
tankers 42, 45每6, 48
precautionary principle 5
sustainable development
Baltic Sea area 91每3, 99
Evans, M.D. 12每13, 13每14
fair trial 181, 183
fairness, justice as 114每18, 126
France 53, 151
Freestone, D. 4, 12
French, D. 86
Galitzzi, P. 71, 72
Gatmayan, D. 140每41
generation, defi nition of 113每14, 152
Germany
precautionary principle 26
sustainable development 101
global warming
intergenerational equity 112每13,
122每3
Halde, N. 19每20
Hamzah, B.A. 88每9
Handl, G. 171
Hayward, T. 173
hazardous materials (substances,
goods) 45, 49, 60
radioactive see radioactivity
HELCOM 57每61, 65每6, 92每3, 98, 100,
103每4
see also under Baltic Sea Area,
Sustainable Development
Hollister, C.D.G. 53
human rights
constitutions see constitutions
environmental problems 79, 121
Index 225
intergenerational equity 126
group rights 124, 125每6, 127
right to clean environment 170每77
ECHR see ECHR
solidarity rights 171每2
Hungary 150, 153
hybridization 5每6
identifi cation of international law 4每6
rules and principles 6每8
IMO 2, 31每2
see also MARPOL 73/78
India 143
indigenous communities 82, 176
information 173, 174, 175, 202
ECHR: art 10 180, 181, 183, 186每7
intergenerational equity 7, 110每12,
168每9
courts
international 142每8
national 136每42
future generations
constitutional context 148每53,
169
Marshall Islands see Marshall
Islands
international courts 142每8
introductory issues 123每7
meaning of 128每9
national courts 136每42
ombudsman 145, 152每3
philosophical basis: theory of Brown
Weiss 112每23
generation, defi nition of 113每14,
152
justice: responsibility principle
119每20
justice as fairness 114每18, 126
rights of future generations
120每23, 125, 127
principles of 124
sustainable development, element of
72
trust concept 111每12, 123每7, 129每6
charitable trusts 130每31
planetary trust 136
public trust doctrine 132每4
trusteeship 134每6
International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) 52
Israel
Commission for Future Generations
111, 151每2, 169
Italy
emissions from chemical factory
186每7
Japan
oil tankers 46
judicial review 189每90
justice 114, 129, 145
as fairness 114每18, 126
Latvia 104每5
Lentz, S.A. 41
life, right to 172, 181, 201每3, 205
Lithuania 104
Lowe, V. 80每81, 83, 125, 148
McInerney, S. 179
Magraw, D.B. 69, 74, 82, 83每4
margin of appreciation see under
ECHR and right to clean
environment
marine pollution
dumping at sea 49每50
oil see oil pollution
MARPOL 73/78 32每49, 56
description of 32每5
oil tankers 40, 41每2, 45每9
&opting每out* system 33
vessel oil spill prevention 45每9
Marr, S. 28
Marshall Islands Funds and Claims
Tribunal 111, 153每5, 169
1986 Compact: additional funding
165
2003 Compact: amendments to 1986
Compact 165每6
latest developments 166每7
non nuclear trust
Marshall Islands Intergenerational
Trust Fund (MIITF) 167每8
Nuclear Claims Tribunal 159每65
Section 177 Agreement 156每9
meta-principle 80每81
Netherlands 53
New Zealand 40
noise pollution 184每5, 187每96
226 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
Nordic Council of Ministers 93, 100
Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) 107
Norway 39每40
Nuclear Claims Tribunal see Marshall
Islands
nuclear testing see Marshall Islands
oil pollution
vessel oil spill prevention 40每49
precautionary principle 48, 49
single-hull and double-hull
tankers 42, 45每6, 48
ombudsman
intergenerational equity 145, 152每3
pacta tertiis nec nocent nec prosunt 35
Page, E.P. 120, 122
Pakistan 141
Pallemaerts, M. 70
paternalism 127
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) 60
Philippines 136每41
Poland 103, 151, 169
polluter-pays principle 37, 43, 58每9
Baltic 21 97
Helsinki Convention 58
Rio Declaration 37
pollution
air 187每201
noise 184每5, 187每96
oil see oil pollution
radioactive see radioactivity
waste treatment plant 185每6
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 60
ports
sustainable development 88每9, 101
poverty
environmental problems 81
precautionary principle 1每3, 31每2,
62每6, 207
approach or principle 8, 14每15, 24,
28
IMO: approach 34每7
London Convention: approach
51每2
burden of proof 62
reversal of 9, 15, 18, 21每2,
cost eff ectiveness basis 44, 48, 61, 63
cost-benefi t analysis 10, 31
features of 29每30
general observations 3每10
Germany 26
Helsinki Convention: Baltic Sea area
57每61, 92
scientifi c evidence 60每62
ICJ 20每22
natural environment: essential
state interests 21
ITLOS: case law 10每20
cooperation in exchanging
information 16每17, 18, 19
discretionary recourse to principle
15
provisional measures, prescription
of 17每18
prudence and caution 11每12, 16,
17, 19
urgency in adopting measures
13每14, 15每16
London Convention and 1996
Protocol: dumping at sea 49每55,
56每7
MARPOL 73/78 35每40, 48, 51, 58,
67
meaning of 62每6
no uniform understanding 27每8,
65
proportionality 30, 31, 63
relative concept 12
Rio Declaration: Principle 15 27,
59
risk management 28每9, 30, 31, 44每5,
52, 62, 64
scientifi c
evidence 48, 51每3, 54, 58, 60
uncertainty, 29每30, 39, 55
soft and hard law 27, 30
strong form 9, 18, 64
subjectivity 28
weak form 8每9, 18, 64
WTO case law 22每6
preventive principle/model 3
vessel oil spill prevention 40每49
principles and rules 6每8
private and family life see under ECHR
and right to clean environment
proportionality 178, 184, 198
precautionary principle 30, 31, 44每5,
63
public opinion 54, 56
Index 227
public participation in decision-making
173每4, 204
Purdy, R. 54
radioactivity
nuclear testing see Marshall Islands
Funds and Claims Tribunal
persistent plutonium
intergenerational equity 113, 114,
116
waste disposal 52每4
Rajamani, L. 72每3, 75, 77
Rawls, J. 114每15, 116每18, 126, 128, 136
Razzaque, J. 141
Redgwell, C. 110, 130, 131, 132, 134
remedy, eff ective 183, 189每90, 191,
195每6
reparations 114
Rest, A. 139
Ringius, L. 52每4, 56
risk management
intergenerational equity 112每13
precautionary principle 28每9, 30, 31,
44每5, 51每2, 64每5
rules and principles 6每8
Russian Federation 40, 91, 92, 99, 102,
104
air pollution 196每201
mudslide 201每3
salvage 43
Sand, P. 132, 135每6
Sands, P. 27每8, 81, 83
scientifi c
evidence 60每62
uncertainty 29每30, 37, 55
sequestration of carbon dioxide 54每5,
56每7
Shelton, D. 180
Shoham, S. 152
single-hull and double-hull tankers 42,
45每6, 48
social security 114
Solum, L.B. 112每13, 114, 116, 129
South Africa 150
Spain
waste treatment plant 185每6
stewardship over natural resources
134每5
see also trusts
strategic impact assessment 174
Sunstein, C.R. 9每10, 62
sustainable development 7, 67每109,
207
Baltic Sea area 90每104
Baltic 21 91, 92, 95每104
CBSS: 2003 Declaration 91每2, 95,
97, 103
HELCOM 92, 93, 98, 100, 105
management, system of 91每2
case law, international 83每5
critique of 79每80
elements 67每9, 105
common but diff erentiated
responsibilities 72每9
integration of environment and
development 70每72, 86每7
intergenerational equity 72
sustainable utilization 69每70
meta-principle 80每81
normative content, views on
79每86
tools to implement 82
Sweden 58, 101, 149
tankers, oil
single-hull and double-hull tankers
42, 45每6, 48
technology transfer 101
Tremmel, J.C. 120, 121, 148每50
Trouwborst, A. 62 63
trusts
charitable 130每31
planetary 136
public trust doctrine 132每4
stewardship over natural resources
134每5
three certainties 130, 131
Turkey 201
uncertainty, scientifi c 29每30, 39,
55
United Kingdom
noise pollution 184每5, 187每96
radioactive waste disposal 52每4
United Nations
trusteeship system 134, 154
Nauru 145每8
United States
double-hull regulations 48每9
228 Contemporary issues in international environmental law
nuclear testing
Marshall Islands see Marshall
Islands Funds and Claims
Tribunal
Nevada 160
precautionary principle 5, 24
property rights 114
public trust doctrine 132每4
sustainable development 74
Vasak, K. 171
Warren, L. 126
waste
dumping at sea 49每50
precautionary principle
50每55
persistent plutonium 113, 114,
116
radioactive 52每4
treatment plant 185每6
Wiener, J. 5每6
Willish, J. 35
World Trade Organization
(WTO)
precautionary principle
case law 22每6
sustainable development 70
World Wide Fund for Nature
(WWF) 104


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