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

Barbara Ruis (UNEP)

UNEPs work in support of the Judiciary began in 1996 with the convening a series of Regional Judges Symposia on environmental law, sustainable development and the role of the judiciary in several regions of the world. In August 2002, UNEP convened the Global Judges Symposium on Sustainable Development and the Role of Law in parallel with the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The Symposium, hosted and chaired by Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson of South Africa, brought together more than 120 Chief Justices and senior judges from over 60 countries including several judges from International Courts and Tribunals.

The outcome of the Symposium was a unanimous recognition by these senior judges of the crucial role that the judiciary plays in enhancing environmental governance and the rule of law, through the interpretation, application, further development, and enforcement of environmental law in the new context of sustainable development. This recognition was embedded in the Johannesburg Principles on the Role of Law and Sustainable Development, that the judges adopted by acclamation, which were presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and to the WSSD.

The Global Judges Symposium inspired the UNEP Governing Council to adopt in 2003 a decision which called upon the UNEP Executive Director to help improve the capacity of those involved in the process of developing, implementing and enforcing environmental law at the national and local levels, including judicial officers. To implement this decision UNEP embarked upon an extensive work programme to carry out national activities. We are now in the process of organizing and conducting national training activities.



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