Of Solemn Oaths and Obligations_ The Environmental Impact of the ICJ’s Decision in the Case of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project Academic Article uri icon


  • The law of treaties often conjures up images of states as rotund gentlemen with whiskers, vests, and watch-chains proclaiming solemn and chivalric oaths upon their honour. Treaties are sacred in the same way that a man's word is his bond. This type of relationship among states is largely unquestioned since much of the way we live in the world depends upon the assumption of the inviolability of sovereign states and their treaties. Any challenge to these assumptions would surely evoke horror at the unmentionable void that would result-except in lawyers who make their livings shaving nuances. However, in the context of the environment, the analogy between states and barons begins to break down. Environmental impacts flow unimpeded across the boundaries of sovereign states, without respect for body or boundary. People form alliances across borders in order to pursue broader, more global issues. Support for adding the environment to the list of concerns that may justify interference in the affairs of neighbouring states is increasing. Environmental concerns when they relate to the actions and responsibilities of states, moreover, are increasingly expressed in the language of sustainable development and the precautionary principle.

author list (cited authors)

  • Stec, S., & Eckstein, G. E.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • January 1, 1997 11:11 AM