Philippe Sands


The subject of international environmental law is relatively new. The subject was certainly not taught when the University of Richmond School of Law was established in 1870, even if early international law texts before that period did indicate a nascent concern for the issues of fisheries conservation and the use of international rivers. The late part of the last century and the early part of this one recognized a world in which international law could be divided, rather simply, between the law of peace and the law of war. It was a world with few international courts and tribunals in which international litigation was truly exceptional. By 1945, the International Court of Justice had succeeded the Permanent Court, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration was already well beyond its golden period. The European Court of Human Rights was yet to be established, as was the European Court of Justice. In short, there was virtually no international environmental law, and there was little international environmental litigation.