Is the Principle of Sovereignty Influenced by Global Environmental Challenges?

Particular Emphasis on Climate Change and the
Law of the Sea

by Aksel S�rby

Environmental problems are now widely perceived as one of the greatest concerns of mankind and many environmental threats increasingly cause problems for states other than the source nation. International challenges ? for instance in the form of transboundary pollution ? opposes the fundamental order of public international law which is based on the idea of a strong nation-state having jurisdiction within its borders. Accordingly, arguments favouring the creation of regimes outside of statehood, enforced by international law, have been put forward. Addressing the environmental challenges in this manner calls for a different approach in the development of treaties and obligations in international law.

The purpose of this paper is to try to detect any recent developments in the concept of state sovereignty resulting from the influence of international environmental law. For contextual purposes the paper includes a presentation of some fundamental issues in international law. The main focus, however, is on climate change and the law of the sea. The paper also discusses treaty law, case law, state responsibility and the role of principles in international environmental law relevant to state sovereignty. General conclusions and reflections are addressed in the final chapter.

The problem at hand is of increasing importance and the paper gives a good understanding of the close link between national law, international law and international environmental Law.