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Revisiting Sustainable Development in Light of General Principles of International Environmental Law

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Chapter Summary

A quarter of a century has passed since the World Commission on Environment and Development used the expression 'sustainable development' in the much cited Brundtland report of 1987, 'Our Common Future'. The concept of sustainable development and intergenerational equity embodied the principle of collective ethics, according to which all states would be obliged to manage their own resources rationally and in a way which would not preclude lasting development and conditions of life on the planet for future generations. Sustainable development presents itself today as an expression of an intellectual and ethical approach to managing processes of economic development. Sustainable development becomes a reality through its integration into other substantive and procedural principles of international environmental law, which contribute to a more modern idea of sovereignty, a power responsive to the general interest of the international community, rather than of absolute dominion over a territory and its resources.

Keywords: dominion; idea of sovereignty; international community; international environment law; sustainable development



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