‘Environmental Rule of law’: Reading into the First Global Report

Dr. Dina Hadad
Assistant Professor of Public International Law
Kuwait International Law School


On 24 January 2019 the UN Environment published its first Global Report of “Environmental Rule of Law”. Despite the steady increase in environmental laws since Stockholm Declaration and the very recent developments in courts tendencies nationally and internationally (i.e Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua and Colombia’s Supreme Court decision STC4360-2018), this report identifies failure to enforce these laws as a global trend and the main challenge in the face of mitigating adverse effect of human activity on the Environment. This very recent report that attempts to provide a roadmap for tracking the effectiveness of efforts to improve and promote an environmental rule of law globally, admits however that developing and advancing the environmental rule of law is a challenge for all countries although it became a growing priority. It is essential to highlight that this report was released as climate experts and political and economic leaders seek to address dire findings released in October 2018 by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which urged rapid action to transform the global economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.” Environmental rule of law provides an important entry point for considering how to govern development so that it is sustainable. It is clear that many of the Sustainable Development Goals, even those that do not mention the environment explicitly, will only be met if there is substantial progress on environmental rule of law, and that there is substantial congruity between Sustainable Development Goals and targets and the ingredients of environmental rule of law. This means that as countries and partners pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they need to mainstream consideration of environmental rule of law into their programming.
This paper will explore first the significance of an implementation gap in legal context. It will move after that to set the theoretical frame of the reading offered from TWAIL (Third World Approaches of International Law) perspective. While standing on the main structure of environmental rule of law as offered by the report it will explore the significance of the rule of law, relevance of sustainable development and a system of civic engagement that serves better a more efficient global governance and justice. This paper argues and from a TWRIL perspective that we are still far from establishing a clear concept of environmental rule of law. In the absence of empirical data to support the suggested structure of such process of governance the report replicates the implementation gap present in the legal environmental scene.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, Rule of Law, Environmental Governance, Enforcement, Climate Change, TWRAIL.

Read Full PDF Text (English)