INTERNATIONAL COURTS AND TRIBUNALS
Anticipating an increasing number of environmental disputes, in 1993, the International Court of Justice created a special Chamber of Environmental Matters. As it happens, no state sought to bring a claim heard within this “specialized” chamber before it was closed in 2006. Arguably, the dearth of cases and ensuing international environmental case law at the ICJ is a result of non-state actors being unable to bring cases before the Court, but also reflects the nature of obligations negotiated within modern treaty regimes that incorporate non-compliance mechanisms. Soft law, differentiated responsibilities, and an absence of clear, precise, and actionable obligations reduce the likelihood of international environmental litigation.
As we have argued in the COURTS Section, the international environmental cases heard at the ICJ have not sufficiently engaged scientific advisors for the Court, and because the WTO is fundamentally a venue for Trade Disputes, world trade law enjoys significant normative primacy over international environmental law.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration offers, what is currently, the best forum for environmental dispute settlement. However, concerns about transparency and, therefore, its weakened ability to generate precedent from its arbitral case law make it sub-optimal. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is better in this regard, but has so far produced a limited number of environmental cases.
The European Court of Human Rights has a significant case law of environmental disputes, but it is fundamentally a regional human rights court. The International Criminal Court has been proposed as the ideal venue to address the crime of ecocide. We suspect, however, that an ICE would enjoy a greater number of cases than an Ecocide Criminal Court, and would be equally, if not more, capable of addressing the cases of environmental damage so significant that they reach the status of ecocide.
In the following sections, we have provided (1) links to the websites of organizations working in related fields (in black text); and (2) a selection of documents (click on the images to download the pdf file) that summarize what's being done within these interconnected communities, which from our perspective, supports our core objectives.
International Environmental Dispute Resolution Mechanisms
Although our ability to provide PDF copies of academic articles is often limited by copyrights, we will be incorporating bibliographies for each section. We encourage you to help us build our bibliographies and to send us links to specific organizations and/or PDFs that you feel should be represented in this section.