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  • Cited by 6
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Brandi, Clara 2015. Safeguarding the earth system as a priority for sustainable development and global ethics: the need for an earth system SDG. Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 11, Issue. 1, p. 32.

    Carlman, Inga Grönlund, Erik and Longueville, Anna 2015. Models and methods as support for sustainable decision-making with focus on legal operationalisation. Ecological Modelling, Vol. 306, p. 95.

    Dernbach, John C. and Cheever, Federico 2015. Sustainable Development and Its Discontents. Transnational Environmental Law, Vol. 4, Issue. 02, p. 247.

    Etty, Thijs Heyvaert, Veerle Burns, Wil Carlarne, Cinnamon Farber, Dan and Lin, Jolene 2015. The Challenge of Keeping Environmental Law Dynamic. Transnational Environmental Law, Vol. 4, Issue. 01, p. 1.

    Vidas, Davor Fauchald, Ole Kristian Jensen, Øystein and Tvedt, Morten Walløe 2015. International law for the Anthropocene? Shifting perspectives in regulation of the oceans, environment and genetic resources. Anthropocene, Vol. 9, p. 1.

    Kim, Rakhyun E. and Mackey, Brendan 2014. International environmental law as a complex adaptive system. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol. 14, Issue. 1, p. 5.


International Environmental Law in the Anthropocene: Towards a Purposive System of Multilateral Environmental Agreements

  • Rakhyun E. Kim (a1) and Klaus Bosselmann (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 24 June 2013

Our point of analytical departure is that the state of the global environment is deteriorating despite the accumulating body of international environmental law. By drawing on the recent Earth system science concept of interlinked planetary boundaries, this article makes a case for a goal-oriented, purposive system of multilateral environmental agreements. The notion of ‘goal’ is used here to mean a single, legally binding, superior norm – a grundnorm – that gives all international regimes and organizations a shared purpose to which their specific objectives must contribute. A bird’s eye view of the international environmental law system reveals how the absence of a unifying goal has created a condition that is conducive to environmental problem shifting rather than problem solving. We argue that a clearly agreed goal would provide the legal system with a point of reference for legal reasoning and interpretation, thereby enhancing institutional coherence across Earth’s subsystems. To this end, this article concludes by observing that the protection of the integrity of Earth’s life-support system has emerged as a common denominator among international environmental law instruments. Accordingly, we suggest that this notion is a strong candidate for the overarching goal of international environmental law.

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Transnational Environmental Law
  • ISSN: 2047-1025
  • EISSN: 2047-1033
  • URL: /core/journals/transnational-environmental-law
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