Modern legal regimes for the protection and management of the environment have developed rapidly over the past forty years. At the national level, with increasing pressures from development activity and population growth, environmental law became a major preoccupation for developed countries in the 1970s and 1980s and, in the past two decades, for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Regionally and globally the generation of environmental legal instruments, addressing a vast array of environmental and natural resource issues, has been increasingly motivated by the impera tive of environmental, social/cultural, and economic sustainability, with one of the high points being the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and two of its products, Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. States have been encouraged, indeed obliged by necessity, to address by legal means the causes and effects of pollution, resource depletion, climate change, and protection of ecologically significant areas within their jurisdictions, across political boundaries, and beyond national jurisdictions. The increasing complexity of the area is reflected in the number and scope of multilateral environmental agreements and the establishment of associated governance regimes.
There has been an inevitable need to resolve disputes concerning the operation of the growing body of international environmental law and its supporting institutions. This book explores the rich state practice in this area, with a particular focus on the various judicial institutions, tribunals, and related bodies resolving environmental disputes at the international level, the best-known being the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.