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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the various ‘twilight’ norms at the bottom of the normative hierarchy of modern international environmental law, such as ‘precaution’, ‘polluter pays’, ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, ‘equitable utilisation of shared natural resources’, ‘intergenerational equity’, ‘common concern of mankind’, and ‘sustainable development’. It discusses these ‘twilight’ norms in current international environmental law, and examines how legal experts and scholars assess their nature and normative quality. Given the ongoing controversy and considerable confusion concerning the status of these norms, as well as the roles they play and the effects they have, it is useful to analyse the phenomenon of ‘relative normativity’ in current international environmental law in more detail. Ronald Dworkin's legal theory, which separates ‘policies’ from ‘legal principles’ and ‘legal rules’, may help in this respect. The article also considers the principle not to cause transboundary environmental damage and environmental impact assessment.

Keywords: Ronald Dworkin, legal theory, twilight norms, international environmental law, precaution, polluter pays, differentiated responsibilities, shared natural resources, intergenerational equity, sustainable development

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