Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations


Environment, International, Law


"This thesis is an exploration of two questions that are neither novel nor lacking in exploration: Is an International Environmental Court (IEC) needed? Is such a court feasible? Proposals for an IEC have a rich history, are well founded and numerous. On the issue of necessity, this thesis attempts to pull together historical and current information on two distinct areas of international environmental law and use these analyses to contextualize the need for an international environmental tribunal. Arguments for and against an IEC are presented within a discussion of environmental diplomacy. This thesis begins with a legal discussion of potential climate change actions in current international fora. This section is an attempt to add a layer of context on what the international legal landscape looks like for environmental actions while presenting one of two broad areas of environmental redress: a civil action. The analysis then moves on to discuss an international cause of action debated and advocated for over the past half century: ecocide. The need for a singular cause of action to fit the particularities of intentional environmental harm inflicted upon peoples is used to present the second broad area of environmental redress necessitated by international affairs: a criminal action. The analysis then moves from necessity to feasibility, beginning with an overview of proposals for an international agreement to create an environmental tribunal adequate to address the needs presented in the preceding sections. This analysis draws on international relations theory in its conclusion that such a tribunal is necessary and potential, dependent on legally cognizable factors working in tandem with considerable advocacy. The belief that the potentially catastrophic human ability to affect the global environment has existed at least since the reality of nuclear holocaust threatened during the Cold War, is currently at issue in relation to climate change, and is likely to be an ongoing reality in a quickly developing, technologically hyper-driven, globally interconnected, resource-scarce future underpins this analysis. The need to have international legal mechanisms to protect those at the fringes of these processes who are often the most harmed by environmental degradation lends urgency to the project of investigating the feasibility of creating an IEC tasked with ruling on agreed international environmental norms and rights."



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