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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines how the establishment and operation of environmental treaty systems helps to create and develop international environmental law. It inquires into the emergence of environmental treaty systems and identifies two characteristics of the evolving law-making structure: first, the ‘constitutionalisation’ of treaty systems through the creation of new structures for the making of international environmental law, and, second, the institutional fragmentation of international environmental governance. The article then considers the policy-making dimension of environmental treaty systems and identifies three areas of intra-institutional activity relevant to the law-making process: broadening and tightening commitments over time; elaborating upon, and in some cases redefining, existing obligations through an administrative process; and undertaking scientific and technical assessments to reinforce and accelerate normative development. It also explores the output of the law-making process, arguing that different types of law emerge. Whereas regular treaty law is still the most important single output of environmental law-making, it is supplemented by law emerging from simplified amendment procedures and secondary decisions of competent treaty bodies.

Keywords: environmental treaty systems, international environmental law, law making, constitutionalisation, fragmentation, international environmental governance, normative development, treaty law

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