Damage to the global environment is now at the forefront of public awareness. The causes and consequences of irreversible harm to our planet are the subject of unprecedented attention, especially on the subject of climate change and threats to biodiversity. Responsibility for the health of the planet is shared between nation states which have tried to develop legal and institutional tools to address the environmental challenge.
International law provides the mechanisms for regulating the impact of states on the environment, in the form of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). However, because of their slow and restrained emergence, their fragmented nature and their lack of implementation in many cases, MEAs have faced significant challenges in to developing, implementing and enforcing international environmental law.
Moreover, a number of international courts, tribunals and arbitral bodies have been created to decide on states’ obligations and responsibilities under international environmental law. But the current system does not deliver sufficient access to justice for non-state actors or provide a forum that is suitable to hear very technical scientific evidence common to environmental cases.
It is the current deficit in these two areas that drive the case for an International Court for the Environment (ICE). It is envisaged that the ICE would become the principal court dealing with international environmental law, helping to clarify existing treaties and other international environmental obligations for states and for all other parties including trans-national corporations. It would do this through dispute resolution, advisory opinions, and the adjudication of contentious issues presently unclear or unresolved.
As sustainable development is about guaranteeing “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”, the need to address current and future environmental degradation could be carried out by an ICE.
For the whole paper, see attached document.