Sustainable Development Law (SDL) Research Guide
By Gary Yessin
Gary Yessin is the Reference Librarian at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, Florida. He has a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.S. in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University, and a B.A. in English (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Florida.
Published September 2006
Table of Contents
Historically, sustainable development law literature has often focused on environmental issues in developed countries. In the last several years, the field of Sustainable Development Law has shifted, to an integration of international economic, social, and environmental law with the goal of reducing poverty in developing nations. Still, one of the major issues in this area is whether "sustainable development" is law, soft law, or policy.
Sustainable development law: principles, practices, and prospects (Segger and Khalfan, 2004) provides the best introduction to the emerging field of Sustainable Development Law (SDL). It is quite idealistic, which reflects the often aspirational nature of the field. I will provide an extended introduction to the topic through highlights and excerpts from this book.
Sustainable development law: principles, practices, and prospects
Segger, Marie-Claire Cordonier, 1973-; Khalfan, Ashfaq.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2004; 464 p.
See the Table of Contents and other publisher information. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger is the leading figure in the field of SDL. Not only is she a prolific author, but she has had a lot to do with the emergence of sustainable development law as a vital field of international and anti-poverty law. The Foreword of this book, by H.E. Judge Christopher G. Weeramantry, Former Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, contains the 1987 Brundtland Report definition of sustainable development - "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (ix)
The first chapter discusses the origins of the Sustainable Development concept, and the next one is dedicated to the "Results of the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development," reporting that there were 45,000 participants, including over 100 heads of state, in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, a 3 page document with 6 sections, reaffirms a commitment to sustainable development and building a humane, equitable and caring global society. It emphasizes the three pillars of sustainable development at all levels and a common resolve to eradicate poverty, change consumption and production patterns, and protect and manage the natural resource base.
The book summarizes the 62 pages of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), as well as the New Delhi Declaration of Principles (see another text only version of the New Delhi Declaration of Principles).
The final section of this book, focused on 'the prospects' for sustainable development law, provides proposals for a future legal research agenda. In essence, it proposes "further directions for legal research by those interested in advancing the understanding, development and implementation of international sustainable development law." (p. 278).
It deals with six areas of focus, where "sustainable development principles may be particularly relevant, and new instruments are being developed and tested" (p. 278).
As a conclusion, "[S]ustainable development law is both an emerging body of legal principles and instruments, as well as an 'interstitial norm,' a concept that serves to reconcile conflicting environmental, social and economic development norms in international law, in the interest of present and future generations." (p. 365)
International law and policy of sustainable development
French, Duncan. Manchester University Press, 2005; 218 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
The concluding comment of the book is that "It is only through law and policy pulling in the same direction that the chances of achieving sustainable development will be improved . . . [quoting L. Fernando] - 'Ultimately, our views about sustainable development are expressions of our positions on ethics, morality, and social justice and of our commitment to political strategies to realize them.' To this, one must simply add that for such political strategies to be truly effective, they must also incorporate, and not marginalize, the role of international law in promoting global sustainable development."
International law and sustainable development: principles and practice
Schrijver, Nico,; Weiss, Friedl,
Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2004; 714 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
Sustainable justice: reconciling economic, social, and environmental law
Segger, Marie-Claire Cordonier; Weeramantry, C. G.
Leiden; Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005; 598 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
Sustainable development in world trade law
Gehring, Markus W.; Segger, Marie-Claire Cordonier,
The Hague: Kluwer Law International; Frederick, MD: Sold and distributed in North, Central and South America by Aspen Publishers, 2005; 735 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
International economic law with a human face
Weiss, Friedl; Denters, Erik.
The Hague; Cambridge, MA: Kluwer Law International, 1998; 566 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
Beyond the barricades: the Americas trade and sustainable development agenda
Segger, Marie-Claire Cordonier; Reynal, Maria Leichner.
Aldershot, Hants, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005; 351 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
Regulating international business: beyond liberalization
Picciotto, Sol.; Mayne, Ruth
St. Martin's Press, 1999; 277 p. See the Table of Contents and other publisher information.
Sustainable development and good governance
M. Nijhoff; Sold and distributed in the U.S.A. and Canada by Kluwer Academic
Publishers; 1995; 483 p. The Table of Contents is not available online so I'll reproduce it here:
(From "Table of major treaties and other documents,"
International law and policy of sustainable development, French, 2005)
"The mission of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) is to promote sustainable societies and the protection of ecosystems by advancing the under-standing, development and implementation of international sustainable development law.
The CISDL is engaged in six primary areas of sustainable development law research, each of which is led by a CISDL Lead Counsel based at a developing or developed country law faculty or international organisation. These include:
International Law Association (ILA) - International Law on Sustainable Development Committee
Major Topics include:
Law and Justice
Millennium Development Goals
"Bridging the Trade and Sustainable Development Communities"
ACP African, Caribbean and Pacific group of States
ASEAN Association of South East Asian Nations
CBD 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity
CDF Comprehensive Development Framework
CISDL Centre for International Sustainable Development Law
COMESA Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
CSD Commission on Sustainable Development
EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
EC European Community
ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
EU European Union
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization
G7 Group of 7: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States
G77 Group of 77: non-aligned movement of developing States (often G77/China)
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GNP Gross National Product
HDI Human Development Index
HIPC Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative
IBRD International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
ICESCR International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ICJ International Court of Justice
ICSID International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes
ICTSD International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
IDA International Development Association
IFC International Finance Corporation
IFI International Financial Institution
ILA International Law Association
ILO International Labor Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
LDCs Least Developed Countries
MDB Multilateral Development Bank
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MNE Multinational Enterprise
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa's Development
NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations
NIEO New International Economic Order
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
OPEC Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
PRGF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
PRSP Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
R&D Research and Development
SAP Structural Adjustment Programme
SIA Sustainability Impact Assessment
TRIPS 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UN United Nations
UNCED 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNTS United Nations Treaty Series
WCED World Commission on Environment and Development
WHO World Health Organization
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization
WSSD World Summit on Sustainable Development
WTO World Trade Organization
WWF World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund)