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date: 30 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Since the early days of modern public international law, the state has been the most important subject thereof. However, today, it is neither the sole, nor necessarily the primary, actor in international (environmental) relations. In recent years, the role of the state and, notably, the ability of the state to address environmental risks and threats, have increasingly come to be scrutinised. While states' standard setting remains important, commentators have argued that the ability and willingness of states to implement and enforce such standards have major weaknesses. Nevertheless, the state remains a truly important actor in international relations. It forms part of international governance, which has become multilevel governance. This article discusses the changing role of the state in international environmental governance. It examines states as authors, addressees, and guardians of international environmental law. The article also considers the over-estimation of Westphalian concepts of sovereignty, international environmental agreements, international environmental obligations, statehood as an element of a global system of environmental governance, and the role of the state in the transformation of the international legal system.

Keywords: state, statehood, international law, international environmental governance, international environmental law, sovereignty, international environmental agreements, international environmental obligations, international legal system

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