Saturday, April 7, 2007

Climate Change and the 150 Ways International Law Impacts Our Lives

I’d like to round out my ruminations on climate change this week (Monday and today) with a few thoughts on José Alvarez’s Presidential Address—and accompanying International Law: 50 Ways It Harms Our Lives—at ASIL’s 2007 Annual Meeting. As Peter Spiro has noted in his Opinio Juris blogs on the subject, the address certainly was not typical and pushed for self reflection sometimes hard to come by in the currently encamped state of international law in this country.
Although his remarks and handout highlighted issues of gender equity (worth mentioning in the context of this blog), I was particularly struck by the extent to which they noted the miserable failures of international law in the areas on which I focus: climate change and environmental rights. My scholarly work in this area concurs largely with his assessment, and suggests that these cross-cutting problems provide important examples of the ways in which we need to rethink international lawmaking (in particular, considering a more pluralist approach to what counts (currently being discussed in the Opinio Juris inaugural on-line symposium), as well as what Edward Soja has called “thirding”). As someone who agrees with Alvarez that “progress is not only possible but necessary,” I hope we are able to use “international law” creatively enough to engage these pressing problems.

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