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International Environmental Law




Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: similarly-tagged 100/200-level courses or permission from the instructor.

Course description

International environmental law (IEL) is an innovative, dynamic, and rapidly developing field that seeks to ameliorate global environmental issues such as the impacts of climate change and marine pollution/exploitation. As the causes, effects, and potential solutions of such global phenomena transcend national boundaries, international cooperation is increasingly important as reflected in a growing number of international environmental agreements governing disparate issues such as nuclear testing, hazardous substances, and atmospheric pollution. This course aims to provide students with an overview of the evolution of international environmental law, as well as an introduction to the major concepts, cases, and principles that shape effective global environmental governance. Throughout the course, attention will be focused on international responses to environmental issues with a transboundary or global scope. Following the introductory lectures, which will set the scene by introducing the major players (international institutions and actors) in the field, students will have an opportunity to explore the role of international law in regulating environmental problems such as marine pollution, climate change, nuclear testing, deforestation, and air pollution, as well as the governance of outer space, the Arctic, and Antarctica. Beyond this, we will also explore environmental protection during times of war and the interplay between human rights and climate change.

Learning objectives

Upon completing this course students will be able to:

  • Think holistically about global environmental issues and discuss the complexity of human interaction with the earth’s biosphere

  • Describe the foundations and evolution of IEL

  • Discuss and identify key concepts and doctrines of international environmental law

  • Critically evaluate the role and remit of international institutions, and State’s compliance with IEL in addressing the challenges facing the global environmental system

  • Apply the knowledge gained in class to evaluate various environmental governance regimes, such as climate change and atmospheric protection; the law of the sea; protection of the Arctic and Antarctica; conservation and biodiversity; and the regulation of hazardous substances

  • Display a capacity to communicate effectively, both orally and in the written form, about international environmental law issues. More specifically:

  1. Students can take part in a stakeholder dialogue on a global environmental issue
  2. Students are able to locate, synthesize, analyse, and critique the relevant literature

    Students can apply their knowledge and understanding of IEL to explore a specific global environmental problem through the medium of a written research paper. ### Compulsory textbook

Course materials will be made available upon start of the course.