The Art and Craft of International Environmental Law.

Author:Freestone, David
Position:Book review

The Art and Craft of International Environmental Law. By Daniel Bodansky. Cambridge MA, London: Harvard University Press, 2010. Pp. xv, 359. Index. $43.50, 32.95 [pounds sterling], 39.20 [euro], cloth; $23.95, 17.95 [pounds sterling], 21.60 [euro], paper.

Some thirty years or so ago, the story goes, a young, ambitious law student approached the renowned conservation lawyer Dr. Francoise Burhenne at the Environmental Law Centre of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bonn, seeking advice on a career in international environmental law. Burhenne was not encouraging: there are only three such jobs in the world, she reportedly responded--one at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and mine at IUCN--and none of us is thinking of moving.

Since those days, what an astonishing, perhaps inevitable, and certainly gratifying change has taken place. In the last quarter of a century, interest in international environmental law has truly burgeoned in the legal profession and in academe. The huge growth of international environmental law treaties, prompted largely by the 1992 Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), has even been called "treaty congestion" (p. 35). (1) Most of these treaties have their own secretariat and their own regular meeting of the conference of parties. Indeed, so many specialized treaty secretariats and meetings now exist that some national officials seem to be continually on the road, and UNEP is trying to cluster the secretariats together in an attempt to keep administration and costs under control. International environmental law cases are being heard before national and international tribunals. Notable recent examples include the Pulp Mills case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) (2) and the 2011 advisory opinion of the ITLOS Seabed Disputes Chamber on "Responsibilities and Obligations of States Sponsoring Persons and Entities with Respect to Activities in the Area." (3) Academics, including Daniel Bodansky himself, led many of these changes, and within academia the literature has expanded at the same exponential rate. Writing in 1993, I hazarded that the Rio UNCED meeting--twenty years after the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment--marked the coming of age of the subject. (4) Twenty years after Rio, international environmental law is perhaps approaching middle age; it is...

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