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Part I Context, Ch.5 Fragmentation

Margaret A Young

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: 25 March 2023

Human rights — International investment law — International trade — Biodiversity — Sources of international law — Law of the sea

This chapter examines fragmentation within the field of international environmental law. There is long-standing scholarly engagement with the fragmentation of international law into largely self-contained ‘regimes’ such as trade, investment, the law of the sea, and human rights. Such regimes are of fundamental importance to the governance of environmental matters. Multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) covering specific issues and sectors now number in the hundreds, and at times their aims and methods may be in opposition, while gaps remain especially in implementation. The chapter begins with a discussion of the functional conception of law-making within ‘regimes’, which has origins in both international relations and international law, and argues that the governance of environmental matters does not always (or even most often) happen in the context of environmental treaties and environmental institutions but also within norms and institutions that are constituted to pursue other functions, such as trade liberalization or investment protection. It then considers how international adjudication and the proliferation of international courts and tribunals have special salience for environmental matters. The chapter also looks at coordinating initiatives, including the proposal for a Global Pact for the Environment.

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