Judicial Settlement of International Environmental Disputes: Current Problems

Alan Boyle, James Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Muddling through might be one way to describe the present state of international environmental litigation. The fragmented character of international environmental law results in significant jurisdictional problems whatever forum is chosen, but the solutions are far from obvious. When it comes to evidence and proof, all the systems examined here accept that environmental cases are to some degree special, but there is no consensus on how to handle them. Even public interest environmental litigation, a widely accepted concept in other legal systems, becomes more questionable when replicated in international law, where alternative forms of dispute resolution are available. Is the answer to create a specialist international environmental court? The idea receives little support in academic writing, and appeals only to activists. Despite the problems examined here, the existing structure of international courts has much to commend it. Rather than indulge in radical reform, it seems better to identify more modest changes that would make the present ad hoc system a better vehicle for the settlement of environmental disputes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-76
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of International Dispute Settlement
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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