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date: 14 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Close interaction with national laws and policies has been the major driving force for innovation in international environmental law to the point where economists have noted with some perplexity the ‘non-ergodic world’ of environmental regimes, which is subject not only to unforeseeable natural and technological changes, but also teeming with regulatory approaches that are new, often divergent, and competing. Most descriptions of the historical evolution of international environmental law distinguish three or four major ‘periods’ or ‘phases’: the ‘traditional era’ until about 1970 (preceding the 1972 United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment), which is sometimes sub-divided into a pre-1945 and a post-1945 period; the ‘modern era’ from Stockholm to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro; and the ‘post-modern era’ after Rio. This article discusses developments in treaties during the modern era, along with developments in dispute settlement and national law, and the development of international environmental law as a discipline.

Keywords: United Nations Conference, international environmental law, national law, Stockholm Conference, treaties, dispute settlement

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