International Environmental Law & Policy

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International / Comparative
"W" Writing
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General Enrollment Course

Over the last forty years discussions of international environmental law and policy have grown in number and frequency, and treaties addressing the topic have become common. Many of the treaties contain concepts that have now become accepted as commonplace, such as the ecosystem approach and the precautionary principle. The early beginnings of the subject can be found in bilateral and multilateral efforts to protect shared and jointly exploited natural resources like fur seals and fisheries, but now the subject of international environmental law and policy has grown into a complex code of treaties and other instruments that impose obligations on states to protect their own environments as well as to refrain from causing extra-territorial environmental harm. This course examines the basic objectives, principles, techniques, and content of international environmental law and policy. It starts by examining the main environmental challenges and root causes, and then looks at the role that the global economic system plays in creating and perpetuating the problems. Once a foundation for understanding the genesis of the issues has been laid, various aspects of environmental concern are described, such as hazardous waste, ozone, climate change, carbon emissions, biodiversity, oceans and freshwater resources. Major treaties will be reviewed and discussed. The course will conclude with an introduction to environmental ethics. At the end of the course, students will be expected to know basic principles and issues of international environmental law and policy and to be able to analyze an international environmental agreement.