Stockholm + 50: International Environmental Law in Perspective

Sep 15 17, 2022

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm 1972 was the first major global event to generally address environmental issues. It was also a decisive moment for international environmental law, as a discipline and an important chapter of international law.

The United Nations Meeting Stockholm+50 commemorates the 1972 Stockholm Conference and celebrates the 50 years of global environmental action. On this occasion, Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre  organises the international conference “Stockholm + 50: International Environmental Law in Perspective” to reflect on the many developments in international environmental law since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and chart a path forward.

The emphasis of “Stockholm+50: International Environmental Law in Perspective” is on stock-taking of the developments of the past half-a century, since the 1972 Stockholm Conference, with a view of analysing and assessing the impact, mistakes and success stories.

The outcome of the 1972 Stockholm Conference – the Stockholm Declaration – has significantly influenced international environmental law and policy discourse ever since, including on matters such as human rights and the environment (Principle 1), intergenerational equity (Principle 2) and the no-harm principle (Principle 21).

Hardly any other area of international law has been subject of so many and various changes in the past five decades as international environmental law. Our gradually increased knowledge of environmental problems and their causes as well as our shifting responses to these problems have resulted in valuable experiences and awareness for meeting the environmental challenges to come. However, despite all these efforts, we see signs of increasing environmental degradation. The ultimate goal of the present Conference is to better understand what we have done, what we should have done, and how today’s environmental problems should be addressed in the light of the lessons of our past performances.

The Conference is divided into two major parts. The first part, consisting of Panels I-IV, deals with trans-sectoral themes, whereas the second part, Panels V-VIII, concerns specific environmental issues. The general question is how international environmental law has developed in these different issue-areas in the 50 years since the 1972 Stockholm Conference.

IILJ Faculty Director Benedict Kingsbury will present Planning and ‘The Plan’ in international environmental law: Stockholm redivivus for the panel on Structure, Governance, and the Institutional Landscape of International Environmental Law.