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International Environmental Law and the Global South
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Book description

The unprecedented degradation of the planet's vital ecosystems is among the most pressing issues confronting the international community. Despite the proliferation of legal instruments to combat environmental problems, conflicts between rich and poor nations (the North-South divide) have compromised international environmental law, leading to deadlocks in environmental treaty negotiations and noncompliance with existing agreements. This volume examines both the historical origins of the North-South divide in European colonialism as well as its contemporary manifestations in a range of issues including food justice, energy justice, indigenous rights, trade, investment, extractive industries, human rights, land grabs, hazardous waste, and climate change. Born out of the recognition that global inequality and profligate consumerism present threats to a sustainable planet, this book makes a unique contribution to international environmental law by emphasizing the priorities and perspectives of the global South.


‘This is a richly superb book. It is the first systematic exploration of the closely entwined relationship between environmental, economic and human rights issues in a North-South context. It adopts a historical and critical approach and authoritatively moves discussions of international environmental law and policy beyond a state-centric framework. It gives voice to perspectives and issues from the global South including the challenges of accountability of non-state actors and addresses how these challenges could be resolved. In short, it is one of the most important new contributions to international environmental law and policy scholarship in the last few decades.’

James T. Gathii - Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

‘International law has historically excluded the perspectives and insights of large segments of humanity. International Environmental Law and the Global South breaks new ground by analyzing international environmental law through the lens of North-South politics and groups on the margins. It will give inspiration and courage to those working in international environmental law and related fields to achieve a more just and sustainable society.’

Hilary Charlesworth - Professor and Director, Centre for International Governance and Justice, Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University

'International Environmental Law and the Global South offers a rich fare of themes and contributors … The focus on the global South is extremely important, even as the Anthropocene era affects us all. The phenomenon of ‘disappearing states’ is poignant for the South as are problems of rehabilitation and compensation being recently addressed by the community of states. So are the links between trade and sustainable development and issues of green governance. The emphasis on environmental justice and vulnerable groups is particularly valuable in this context … Given the eminence of the editors and contributors, this work will be indispensable for policymakers at all levels, students, scholars and the enlightened publics in the global South particularly but it would be an error to think that it has no messages generally for us all wherever situated.’

Upendra Baxi - Professor of Law in Development Emeritus, University of Warwick, and Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Delhi

‘Conflicts between North and South threaten a permanent derailment of actions necessary to provide for global environmental wellbeing. This path-breaking collection of essays aims to build bridges, by helping us to understand the concerns of the peoples and states of the global South. This vital book should be mandatory reading for international law scholars, students and policy-makers at a time of real challenge.’

Philippe Sands - Professor of Law and Director, Centre for International Courts and Tribunals, University College London

‘The pity is, of course, that this book is needed. But, with wisdom and imagination, editors Alam, Atapattu, Gonzalez, and Razzaque have more than filled the knowledge gap. A much-needed and thought-provoking corrective to the omissions and falsehoods propagated by the Global North. A must-read for environmental and human rights scholars, policy-makers, treaty negotiators, and international law and policy enthusiasts generally - North and South.’

Burns H. Weston - Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, and Founder/Senior Scholar, Center for Human Rights, University of Iowa

'This book will be of great value for all interested in international environmental law, both scholars and practitioners. This comprehensive study of South-North relationships fills a significant gap in the existing literature by reconceptualizing international environmental law from developing countries’ perspectives.'

Maglosia Fitzmaurice - Queen Mary University of London

'This new book, International Environmental Law and the Global South, is a timely, unique and significant contribution to the field of international and comparative environmental law, by four distinguished scholars … the book offers practical and compelling insights on why it is important and possible to bridge the North-South divide in international environmental law, and a solid foundation for further reflections on how best to do so. … What is perhaps most powerful about the book is that its problematization of the contentions and divide between the North and the South, the analysis of its contemporary manifestations, and the proposals for addressing the gaps, are achieved, not at some high level of abstraction, but through practical and real-life accounts that recognize the day-to-day realities of international law making.'

Damilola S. Olawuyi Source: Leiden Journal of International Law

'It is necessary to rethink the present system of international law that simply ensures the wasteful consumption of resources by the rich few. The book makes out the case for change, and is one of the most thought-provoking contributions to international law that has been made in recent times. Though not a textbook, the spirited teacher would use this work as one, for it provides a more comprehensive treatment of the subject than any traditional textbook while ensuring that the case of the larger portion of humanity is given adequate expression.'

M. Sornarajah Source: Journal of International Economic Law

'… an excellent addition to the library of any interested individual – irrespective of legal sophistication. The first section in particular is a stand-alone achievement that is relevant to anyone wishing to understand the mechanisms by which entrenched inequality on the global stage was created, and how it is perpetuated to this day. For those interested in the fine-grained analysis of specific issues, the rest of the book serves as an excellent primer.'

Lucas Hansen Source: New York University Journal of International Law and Politics

'International Environmental Law and the Global South is a significant intervention in a field that can only benefit from open and systemic interrogation of the complicity of international law in the environmental exploitation of the South. … The strength of the volume lies in its willingness to perform what an inclusive universality might look like, by leaving open a space for dialectic engagement between potentially incommensurate accounts of the structural relationship between international law and the North-South divide around which the volume is organized.'

Cait Storr Source: The European Journal of International Law

'… this volume provides a series of fascinating insights on a broad range of issues and approaches in environmental law. … Anyone tired of the traditional debates in international environmental law could only be invigorated by reading these essays. Much of the credit for freshness of tone goes to the editors who have assembled a range of scholars with a genuine expertise and sensitivity for the concerns of the global South, and the additional challenges that it raises.'

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh Source: Journal of Environmental Law

'International Environmental Law and the Global South seeks to be both an academic companion to existing texts and a handbook for lawyers, practitioners, policymakers, political leaders, and environmental and social justice activists. … The volume delineates the ways in which our global economic system causes not only poverty but also environmental destruction. … This book unravels those profound [North-South] economic, social, environmental, and political tensions, and it strives to mitigate them.'

Nadia B. Ahmad Source: American Journal of International Law

'This edited volume promotes diverse perspectives on international environmental law focusing on the global North-South divide. It is an imposing compilation of twenty-nine full-length chapters by some of the most renowned scholars in the field, including pioneers of a Southern perspective on international environmental law. … Anyone interested in international environmental law should be interested in its (geo)political dimensions and will find plenty of food for thought in this volume.'

Benoit Mayer Source: Climate Law

‘This book contains an abundance of little-known factual material, refreshing arguments and viewpoints that will in turn trigger wilder scholarship discussion. This volume is undoubtedly helpful to scholars in their research on international environmental law, in particular, in the context of the global South.’

Source: Chinese Journal of International Law

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