Stockholm Conference on Environmental
Law and Justice,  6-9 September 2006

André Nollkaemper (Amsterdam):
Environmental Justice and Sovereignty

Environmental justice is a concept developed in a domestic context, mainly that of the United States. This paper adopts as a working definition of environmental justice the definition adopted by the EPA: “Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies”. Its variety of meanings include at least a substantive, procedural and corrective notion of environmental justice.

This paper explores the potential of environmental justice to address environmental problems within states, that have no or insignificant transboundary effects. It takes as its starting point the proposition that much of international environmental law is not really concerned with protection of the environment as such, as with the protection of the sovereignty of other states. International environmental law still is largely powerless in respect of environmental problems within a state. It is also in respect of transboundary and global problems, that the notion of environmental justice is most easily applied. But while the notion of environmental justice is probably equally unconcerned with the environment as such, but due to its focus on the entitlements of all people(s), has at least the ambition to look reach inside states. What results is a head on collision between the established principle of state sovereignty (including the related notions of self-determination and the rights of communities to determine their own level of environmental protection) and the new notion of environmental justice, as well as related notions such as environmental rights and inter-generational equity. The paper explores the policy-considerations, legal manifestations and power of the arguments that determine the results of this collision.




 Ansvarig utgivare är SMC | Copyright 2006