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Part I Context, Ch.3 Origin and History

Peter H Sand

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Lavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 27 January 2023

Natural resources — Private international law — Global administrative law — Territoriality

This chapter traces the origin and history of international environmental law. The focus of historical research on the emergence of environment-related legal concepts, principles, and institutions has primarily been on the study and comparison of developments at the level of national law. Even so, the interface with international law is easily documented; the emergence of a body of rules of environmental ‘neighbourliness’ has long been observed in trans-frontier relations between states. Most narratives of the historical evolution of international environmental law distinguish three major ‘periods’, ‘epochs’, or ‘phases’: the ‘traditional era’ until about 1970 (that is, preceding the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm); the ‘modern era’ from Stockholm to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED); and the ‘post-modern era’ from Rio onwards. Ultimately, a striking feature of traditional international environmental law was its territoriality. One much-neglected aspect in this context has been the extraterritorial application of multilateral environmental agreements.

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