Like the preceding year, 1996 was, generally speaking, a relatively uneventful year in terms of major international environmental legal developments. It is true that certain long-standing legal initiatives, such as that of the International Conference on Hazardous and Noxious Substances, were finally brought to a successful conclusion, and that, regionally, 1996 witnessed some significant legal achievements. On the whole, however, the year was one more of consolidation, and preparation for 1997 ( 'Rio plus Five,' Kyoto, etc.), as well as--in certain respects--one of disappointment and political, if not legal, retrenchment. Volume 7, we believe, accurately reflects this trend.
Readers will notice that the present volume's makeup, in particular its Year-in Review section, underwent a few changes. All of these were inspired by the need to streamline Yearbook sections with a view to cutting back on pages and thus to controlling production costs. Although some of the changes resulted in a cutback of coverage itself, we hope the readers will agree that, overall, quality of reporting and consistency in format improved in exchange. One area of particular concern has been the documents section given the ever increasing volume of potentially interesting documents being produced each year (especially within multilateral environmental regimes) and the growing accessibility of primary source information. While the very future of the documents section remains presently under review, for volume 7 we decided, generally, not to print or reproduce electronically any lengthy documents, such as the reports of meetings of the conference of the parties to various environmental agreements, whenever these documents were readily accessible in print elsewhere or electronically through the Internet.
On the management side, the Yearbook is set to see some major changes. After seven years as editor-in-chief, it is time for me to pass on primary responsibility for the Yearbook to a new team of editors, Jutta Brunnée and Ellen Hey, who will take over as joint editors-in-chief as of volume 8. Jutta Brunnée is presently an associate editor of the Yearbook as well as Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia. Ellen Hey is a Senior Lecturer in Public International Law at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Both of them are, undoubtedly, well known to our readers worldwide because of their extensive publications in the field of international environmental law, their teaching or related activities. I trust, therefore, our