Dalhousie Law Journal


international law, environmental law, non-state actors, regulation, pollution


In this, the Horace E. Read Memorial Lecture for 1995, James Cameron discusses three developments in international environmental law,-the principles of precaution and of integration and the roles of non-state actors. The precautionary principle calls for regulatory intervention to prevent environmental harm even though the risk of damage remains scientifically uncertain. A wide consensus exists in favour of a precautionary approach to environmental management and state practice is sufficient to assert the principle has attained the status of customary international law, but it remains controversial because it demands changes in practice. The principle of integration takes a holistic approach to regulation. It requires the integration of environmental considerations into all public policy decisions from the outset. It also demands the integration of pollution prevention measures with pollution controls so as to minimize environmental degradation. Application of this evolving principle will place environmental policy on a more efficient and effective course. Large numbers of non-state actors with varied environmental, scientific, legal, academic and corporate backgrounds now participate in international environmental fora and thus pose a challenge to fundamental notions of state sovereignty. Yet states have begun to use, even to depend upon, the expertise of non-state actors in developing international environmental policy, so it has become essential legally to recognise their roles and to develop workable mechanisms for their participation. The author concludes the incorporation of these legal concepts demonstrates the growing maturity of international environmental law.