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GW Law Library
Research Guides

International Environmental Law

A basic guide to researching international environmental law.

About International Environmental Law


"International environmental law is the set of agreements and principles that reflect the world's collective effort to manage our transition to the Anthropocene by  resolving our most serious environmental problems, including climate change, ozone depletion and mass extinction of wildlife. More generally, international environmental law aims to achieve sustainable development—i.e., development that allows people to have a high quality of life today without sacrificing the quality of life of future generations. International environmental law is thus critical both for addressing specific environmental threats and for integrating long-term environmental protection into the global economy."

Source: David Hunter, International Environmental Law, 19 Insights on Law & Society (Jan. 5, 2021).

Sources of International Environmental Law

  • International Treaties & Agreements Subscription Database  (Law School Only)
    Source: Brunnee, Jutta. "Environment, Multilateral Agreements" in "Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law."International Customary Law Subscription Database  (Law School Only)
    Encompasses domestic law, law of EU, and international organizations.
    Source: Treves, Tullio. "Customary International Law" in "Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law."
  • General Principles of Law Subscription Database  (Law School Only)
    Source:  Beyerlin, Ulrich &  Stoutenburg, Jenny Grote. "Environment, International Protection" in "Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law."
  • International Environmental "Soft Law" Documents Subscription Database  (Law School Only)
    Legally non-binding instruments from international environmental conferences or other international organizations.
    Source: Thürer, Daniel. "Soft Law" in "Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law."
  • Judicial Decisions Subscription Database  (Law School Only)
    Judicial decisions of domestic and international courts.
    Source: Pellet, Alain. "Judicial Settlement of International Disputes" in "Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law."
  • Scholarly Writings
    While the writings of legal scholars are not primary sources of international law, they can show evidence of it.