Juridical methods of settlement of international environmental disputes
Oyuga, Josephat Mohammed O
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This study set out to investigate whether the traditional juridical methods of international dispute settlement (the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Arbitration) are appropriate and effective as mechanisms for the resolution of international environmental disputes. The tremendous attention that environmental protection has received in the recent past, the evident importance of law in this pursuit and the primordial position which legal theory accords dispute settlement as a function of law compelled us to conduct this inquiry as a means of furthering the cause of environmental protection. There has been debate as to what procedures would be ideal for the settlement of international environmental disputes. The present study is a contribution to this debate and endeavours to regenerate and sustain interest in this important area of inquiry. Due to the novelty of environmental problems we endeavoured in the first chapter to identify the essential criteria for an appropriate and effective mechanism for the settlement of environmental disputes. These criteria are that the mechanism must be' capable of resolving technical disputes, be expeditious, affordable, capable of according a global approach to issues before it, accessible to entities other than states and its decisions be binding. A preliminary evaluation of all the available international dispute settlement procedures in this chapter isolates the juridical ~ethods as having the best potential for fulfilling these criteria. Subsequent analysis in the second chapter confir3S that the ICJ substantially fulfils these criteria. The only negative aspect of the ICJ procedure is the lack of access to entities other than states. This limitation is, however, not fatal to its viability as a mechanis~ for the settlement of environmental disputes. Arbitration, examined in chapter three, fulfils virtually all the criteria on account of its remarkable adaptability. This adaptability stems from the freedom that international law vests upon the disputants, through the instrumentality of the compromis, to determine the composition and operation of an arbitral tribunal. The fourth chapter concludes that the juridical methods are an effective dual mechanism for the settlement of international environmental disputes. The IeJ and arbitration are complementary processes and offer an important choice to states in resolving international environmental disputes. An increased reliance on these mechanisms will help avoid international conflicts and enhance global peace.