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
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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:
- Sustainable development as a matter of good governance: an introductory view
- Evolving principles of sustainable development and good governance
- Sustainable development: some critical thoughts in the light of the Rio Conference
- The road to sustainable development: evolution of the concept of development in the UN
- Reflections on the term ‘sustainable development’ and its institutional implications
- The dynamics of sovereignty in a changing world
- How to manage sustainable development?
- Governance and sustainable development in Africa
- Implementation of international sustainability imperatives at a national level
- Good governance through popular participation in sustainable development
- Sustainable development and good governance: development and evolution of constitutional orders
- Constitutional orders and sustainable development: the Southern African experience and prospects
- Procedural aspects of international law in the field of sustainable development: citizens’ rights
- The right of participation in development projects
- Popular participation: a precondition for sustainable development planning. The experiences in Uganda
- The right to self-determination from a sustainable development perspective
- European Community development cooperation, human rights, democracy and good governance: at odds or at ease with each other?
- Implications of the principle of sustainable development, human rights and good governance for the GATT/WTO
- Conditionality, human rights and good governance: a dialogue of unequal partners
- Good governance and development cooperation: towards a global approach
- Common but differentiated state responsibility in international environmental law: from Stockholm (1972) to Rio (1992)
- Good governance, accountability, and official development cooperation: analyzing OECD-demands at the example of the IBRD
- Setting off distributory shortcomings
- Sustainable development and good governance: the transition to a steady-state economy
- The GATT 1994: environmental sustainability of trade or environmental protection sustainable by trade?
- Combating corruption: a measure for shaping decision making in order to achieve sustainable development
- Sustainable development, human rights and good governance - a case study of India's Narmada Dam
- Sustainable development as a matter of good governance - the case of the Amazon forest in Brazil
(From “Table of major treaties and other documents,”
International law and policy of sustainable development , French, 2005)
- Charter of the United Nations , 1 UNTS xiv: 68
- Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund, 2 UNTS 39: 39, 196
- Articles of Agreement of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2 UNTS 134: 184
- International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, 161 UNTS 72: 38, 60, 126, 127
- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (‘GATT 1947’), 55 UNTS 194
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights , GA Res. 217 A, 10 December 1948: 71, 73, 156, 209-210, 311
- Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (‘Treaty of Rome’), 298 UNTS 11: 39, 42, 56
- Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, 559 UNTS 285: 38
- Founding Convention of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (‘OECD Convention’), 888 UNTS 179: 39
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , 6 ILM (1967) 360: 65
- Convention on the Law of Treaties (‘1969 Vienna Convention’), 8 ILM (1969) 679: 44
- Declaration of the UN Conference on the Human Environment (‘Stockholm Declaration’), UN Doc. A/CONF/48/14/REV.1 (1972): 47, 52, 55, 58, 64, 88, 135, 170, 182
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), 993 UNTS 243: 119, 125, 127, 140
- Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order , GA Res. 3201 (S-VI), 1 May 1974: 28, 60
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 21 ILM (1982) 1261: 38
- UN Declaration on the Right to Development , GA Res. 41/128, 4 December 1986: 14, 62
- Agreement establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 29 ILM (1990) 1077: 41, 182, 210
- Treaty on European Union (‘Maastricht Treaty’), 31 ILM (1992) 247: 39, 42
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 32 ILM (1993) 289 and 605: 42, 183, 206
- Convention on Biological Diversity (‘Biodiversity Convention’), 31 ILM (1992) 822: 8, 17, 38-39, 56, 57, 59, 66, 115, 130-132, 134-138, 141-142, 146-149, 158, 207
- UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘Climate Change Convention’), 31 ILM (1992) 849: 8, 17, 30, 41, 52, 56, 57, 59, 60, 62, 66, 76-77, 80-82, 92-93, 95-96, 98, 140
- Declaration on Environment and Development (‘Rio Declaration’) , UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26/REV.1, Vol. 1, 12 August 1992: 18, 29, 31, 41, 46, 47, 52, 54-55, 56, 57, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 88-89, 93, 173-174
- Agenda 21 , UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26/REV.1, Vol. 1, 12 August 1992: 18, 19, 22, 31, 32, 53, 56, 122, 173, 175-176
- Establishment of the Commission on Sustainable Development, GA Res. 47/191, 29 January 1993: 19
- Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (‘Marrakech Agreement’), 33 ILM (1994) 15: 42, 44, 199, 201
- Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), 33 ILM (1194) 81: 138, 199
- UN Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (‘Desertification Convention’), 33 ILM (1994) 1328: 42, 57, 68, 120, 140
- Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘Kyoto Protocol’), 37 ILM (1998) 22: 43, 70, 77-80, 81, 82, 96, 104-105
- Millennium Declaration , GA Res. 55/2, 18 September 2000: 15, 176
- Doha Ministerial Declaration, WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1, 20 November 2001: 163, 200, 201, 205-207, 210
- Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development , UN Doc. A/CONF.199/20 (2002): 20
- Program of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development , UN Doc. A/CONF.199/20 (2002): 20-21, 22-24, 27, 32, 63, 64, 115, 123, 138, 140, 154-155, 176-179, 181-182
International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy
McGill University, Faculty of Law
Sustainable Development Law & Policy
American University, Washington College of Law
of Washington School of Law -
Law of Sustainable International Development
The Sustainable International Development LL.M. program is the first graduate program at a U.S. law school to focus on international development law.
“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:
- Trade, investment and competition law ;
- Sustainable developments in natural resources law ;
- Biodiversity law ;
- Climate change and vulnerability law ;
- Human rights and poverty eradication in sustainable development law ;
- Health in sustainable development law ;”
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)