The Ocean and International Environmental Law: Swimming, Sinking, and Treading Water at the Millennium

David VanderZwaag


Various images help capture the status and trends of international law and policy efforts to protect the ocean environment. While “treading water” and “sinking” partly describe legal conditions at the millennium, this paper examines seven challenges in the international environmental law field which at the very least promise to make for a “hard swim” in coming decades. Those challenges include: coping with the proliferation of negotiated instruments; overcoming political opposition to environmental commitments; clarifying the jurisprudential underpinnings of international environmental law; sorting out the relation of environmental ethics, science and the rule of law; fleshing out the principles of sustainable development; addressing practical problems of implementing international responsibilities; and visioning future paths of ocean governance.

This paper was co-authored with Douglas Johnston, University of Victoria.


Environmental Law; International Law

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