Sumudu A. Atapattu, Emerging Principles of International Environmental Law
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Nobody doubts that legal principles have become, in recent decades, increasingly fashionable, no more so than in international law. The success of “principles” is greater wherever rules and binding regulations are relatively weak: here principles can help create a coherent and rational system out of an existing fragmented and chaotic reality. They are, as the former President of the International Court for Yugoslavia Antonio Cassese vividly observed, “the cement that binds together the various and disparate cogs and wheels of the normative framework of the international community”.
Nonetheless, on environmental matters there is a lot of cement, and not many cogs and wheels. In fact, binding instruments of global application are rare: there is nothing comparable to the Universal declaration of Human Rights, or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There is also nothing comparable to the World Trade Organization and the rules governing international trade. There is a...
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