International Law and Sustainable Development

Principles and Practice


The concept of ‘sustainable development’ has attracted considerable attention in recent years and has become of pivotal importance, not only in scientific and political discourse but also, increasingly, in the practice of states and of relevant international organisations. Since 1992 and within a remarkably short period of time, sustainable development has been endorsed and recognised in a number of instruments of international law. Thus, it is incorporated in various environmental treaties as well as in international fisheries agreements, the 1995 Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and EU law. Sustainable development and related concepts also feature in a number of international judicial decisions of the 1990s, for example those of the International Court of Justice and the WTO Appellate Body. The chapters assembled in this book illustrate various aspects of efforts of policy makers, regional and national interest groups to invoke and rely upon international law for the realisation of the objective of sustainable development. They deal in particular with recent examples of the practice of states and of relevant international organisations, especially in such areas as international trade, foreign investment regulation, human rights and natural resources and waste management. Furthermore, some chapters are dedicated to a review of relevant practice at the regional and national level.


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Biographical Note

Nico Schrijver is Professor of International Law at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam and Rapporteur (1994-2002) of the ILA Committee on Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development. Friedl Weiss is Professor of International Economic Law and international organisations at the University of Amsterdam and Rapporteur on Trade and Investment Issues of the ILA Committee on International Trade Law.

Review Quote

"The adoption by the editors of the view that sustainable development has ‘graduated’ from a ‘political concept to being a principle possessing a widely recognized legal core’ creates an ideal foundation from which to focus on the practice and integration of sustainable development in the wider context of the international community." – Angela Williams, in: Environmental Liability, 2005 "In this volume, Schrijver and Weiss have collected a group of nearly thirty senior and young scholars from around the world to examine the evolution of sustainable development law and practice. Their work provides a timely evaluation of how the pursuit of sustainable development as a hybrid of environmental protection and economic development has synergistically advanced the interests of its dual components. The editors’ deep experience is reflected in their concise overviews of each section. Select chapters provide an incisive view on adopting, implementing and enforcing principles of sustainable development." – Janet Martinez, Lecturer, in: Stanford Law School, 2005 "This masterly written collection, from many experts, focuses on the efforts of policy makers, as well as regional and national interest groups, to invoke International Law as the tool for realizing the objectives of sustainable development. The authors provide a rich vein of recent State and organizational practices that can be profitably mined by both academics and practitioners exploring contemporary perspectives." – in: ASIL Newsletter UN21 Interest Group, June 2005

Table of contents

Foreword– Bruno Simma, Preface – Kamal Hossain, Introducing the Book – Nico Schrijver and Friedl Weiss, List of Contributors, Acknowledgements, Table of Cases, Table of Treaties, List of Abbreviations, Part I: Sustainable Development: The Evolution of Principles, Introductory Note by the Editors, 1 Ximena Fuentes, International Law-making in the Field of Sustainable Development: The Unequal Competition between Development and the Environment, 2 Christopher Pinto, Some Thoughts on the Making of International Environmental Law: A Cautionary Tale, 3 Duncan A. French, The Role of the State and International Organisations in Reconciling Sustainable Development and Globalisation, 4 Yoshiro Matsui, The Principle of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities”, 5 Gerhard Loibl, The Evolving Regime on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, 6 Thomas W. Wälde, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development: From “Good Intentions” to “Good Consequences”, Part II: Sustainable Development: The Evolution of Practice Introductory Note by the Editors, A. International Trade, 7 Surya P. Subedi, Managing the ‘Second Agricultural Revolution’ through International Law: Liberalisation of Trade in Agriculture and Sustainable Development, 8 Liu Sun, Lessons from China’s WTO Accession Negotiations: A Look at Likely Implementation Problems Ahead, 9 Karl M. Meessen, Competition in the Doha Round of WTO Negotiations, 10 Erik Denters, Free Riders, Claims and Countermeasures in Combating Climate Change, 11 Mar Campins-Eritja and Joyeeta Gupta, The Role of “Sustainability Labelling” in the International Law of Sustainable Development, B. Foreign Investment, 12 Paul de Waart, Sustainable Development through a Socially Responsible Trade and Investment Regime, 13 Eva Nieuwenhuys, Global Development through International Investment Law: Lessons Learned from the MAI, 14 Esther Kentin, Sustainable Development in International Investment Dispute Settlement: the ICSID and NAFTA Experience, C. Human Rights, 15 Arjun Sengupta, Implementing the Right to Development, 16 Sueli Giorgetta, The Right to a Healthy Environment, 17 Antoinette Hildering, The Right of Access to Freshwater Resources, D. Natural Resources and Waste Management , 18 Mary E. Footer, Our Agricultural Heritage: Sustainability, Common Heritage and Intergenerational Equity, 19 Rosemary Rayfuse, The Challenge of Sustainable High Seas Fisheries, 20 Peter Stoett, Wildlife Conservation: Institutional and Normative Considerations, 21 Karin Arts and Joyeeta Gupta, Climate Change and Hazardous Waste Law: Developing International Law of Sustainable Development, Part III: Sustainable Development: The Evolution of Regional and National Experience, Introductory Note by the Editor, 22 Alistair S. Rieu-Clarke, Sustainable Use and the EC Water Framework Directive: From Principle to Practice?, 23 Elizabeth Bastida, Integrating Sustainability into Mining Law: the Experience of Some Latin American Countries, 24 Roda Mushkat, The Principle of Public Participation: An Asia-Pacific Perspective, 25 Wilbert T.K. Kaahwa, Towards Sustainable Development in the East African Community, 26 Shyami Puvimanasinghe, Public Interest Litigation, Human Rights and the Environment in the Experience of Sri Lanka, 27 Maria Magdalena Kenig-Witkowska, Sustainable Development in Polish Law, Appendix, ILA New Delhi Declaration of Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development, 2002, Index