Formation of Customary International Law and General Principles

Pierre-Marie Dupuy

in The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552153
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Formation of Customary International Law and General Principles

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  • International Law
  • Environment and Energy Law



The customary law status of a rule depends on whether the principle has been referred to, or put into operation, in a treaty, in a soft law instrument, in judicial or semi-judicial decisions, or in other expressions of state practice. This article starts with some preliminary observations on customary law-making in international environmental law, and then assesses the ‘banality’ of the customary law-making process in the field of the international protection of the environment – that is, the fact that this process is analogous to the one in general international law. It also reviews a series of theoretical and technical problems in proving the existence of customary environmental law, namely, the relationship between treaties and custom; the relationship between ‘soft law’ and custom; and the relationship between general principles, normative concepts, and custom. The article concludes by considering the problematic nature of the constantly ongoing law-making process in the absence of a legislator for environmental protection.

Keywords: customary law; law-making; international environmental law; international law; treaties; custom; soft law; normative concepts; environmental protection

Article.  8057 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law ; Environment and Energy Law

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