International Environmental Law - Not offered in AY 2022-23

Undergraduate Program Status

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Description: 

This brief course looks at environmental challenges from the legal and governance perspective and provides a foundation in the relevant core concepts, actors, drivers and institutions. Building upon other coursework in which students have learned about the state of the environment, the nature of environmental problems, and societal responses to the same, the course brings into focus the role of the law in such responses, through customary rules, legal principles, treaties and jurisprudence, at global, regional and national levels.  It leads students to evaluate the overall effectiveness of particular examples of the use of legal instruments to address the underlying drivers of environmental degradation and to solve environmental problems, and discusses multi-level environmental governance as a means for the diffusion of environmental norms.

Learning Outcomes: 

The unit aims at increasing understanding of the legal system in its various guises and its approach to environmental and sustainable development issues. Beginning with an historical overview of the international legal and institutional framework relating to sustainable development, it provides a basic grounding in international law and institutional processes leading to the establishment of legal norms.  Particular agreements are also looked into to determine how they contribute to regime formation, and how states implement and enforce them to achieve compliance.  Specific attention is paid to innovative regimes that test the boundaries of traditional international and environmental law, such as the UNFCCC and UNCLOS. The development of concepts of the right to a healthy environment and its operational effect through human rights jurisprudence and implementation of the Aarhus Convention will be discussed, as well as international jurisprudence related to sustainability.  Issues of implementation, enforcement and maximization of resources, including partnerships with major groups, are also discussed. Among the principles and concepts to be discussed are the principles of intergenerational equity, the principle of prevention, precautionary principle, the concept of sustainable development and the polluter pays principle. Domestic and international legal remedies will be examined.


Readings:  Class participation is a part of your grade.  We will discuss the readings intensively in each class.  You are expected to read the relevant material before class. The instructor will make an effort to provide guidance on the readings beginning with the readings for the second class. 

Class attendance: You are expected to attend all classes and be on time. Attendance may be taken. Excused absences may be granted at the discretion of the instructor, in accordance with applicable Department policies. No non-emergency absences will be excused unless they are discussed with the instructor in advance.  In the case of students arriving after the first 10 minutes of class, instructor has the right to refuse entry.



Exam (75%) - The final examination will be based on the required readings and class lectures.


Attendance/participation (25%) - Class participation and discussion count towards your grade. You may have one or more in-class group exercises.