Principles of International Environmental Law

By Philippe Sands | Go to book overview
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Principles of International Environmental Law marks the culmination of that aspect of my professional activities which was triggered by the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, on 26 April 1986. At that time I was a research fellow at the Research Centre for International Law at Cambridge University, working on international legal aspects of contracts between states and nonstate actors, and not involved in environmental issues. With the active support of the Research Centre’s Director, Eli Lauterpacht, I began to examine the international legal implications of the Chernobyl accident, which indicated that the legal aspects of international environmental issues were of intellectual and political interest, and still in an early phase of development. This led to several research papers, a book and various matters involving the provision of legal advice on international environmental issues. My interest having been aroused, the implications of environmental issues for public international law provided a rich seam which has sustained me for several years, and resulted in my founding, with James Cameron, what is now the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD). That, in turn, has provided me with the fortunate opportunity to participate in a number of international negotiations, most notably those preparatory to UNCED and the Climate Change Convention, and to develop an international legal practice which is varied, unpredictable, entertaining, often challenging and occasionally frustrating.

This book, together with the accompanying volumes of internationaldocuments (Volumes IIA and IIB) and EC documents (Volume III), is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of those rules of public international law which have as their object the protection of the environment. I hope that it will be of some use to lawyer and non-lawyer alike, whether working for government, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and the private sector, or having an academic or other perspective. Its structure and approach reflect my belief that international environmental efforts will remain marginal unless they are addressed in an integrated manner with those international economic endeavours which retain a primary role in international law-making and institutional arrangements, and unless the range of actors participating in the development and application of international environmental law continues to expand. In that regard, it is quite clear that international


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