The Impact of Climate Change: Challenges for International Law

Nico Schrijver

in From Bilateralism to Community Interest

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588817
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725272 | DOI:
The Impact of Climate Change: Challenges for International Law

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The impacts of climate change challenge traditional notions in international law, most notably those relating to the principle of territorial sovereignty, with its presumption of defined territory and fixed maritime boundaries, and State responsibility with its presumption of liability and an obligation to make reparation. Furthermore, efforts to curb climate change have given rise — sometimes in conjunction with developments in other environmental regimes — to the evolution of some new principles and concepts of international law, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the notion of common concern of humankind, protection of vulnerable countries, and so-called flexibility mechanisms for industrial countries to implement their commitments under the Climate Change Convention. This chapter addresses a number of those challenges to international law. First, it reviews the principal international legal instruments adopted in response to climate change. Secondly, it examines the challenges of climate change to territorial sovereignty and Statehood, and, thirdly, to the maritime boundaries of coastal and island States. Fourthly, the relationship between climate change and human rights is reviewed. Fifthly, the chapter discusses whether the current rules of the international law of State responsibility represent the proper paradigm to address the problem of damage caused by climate change. Lastly, some final observations are made.

Keywords: climate change; international law; territorial sovereignty; statehood; human rights

Chapter.  9972 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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