The Protection of the Environment in International Law


Content, progress and pedagogy of the module

  • To supplement the student’s knowledge and skills in a way that may form part of the student’s choice of educational and professional profile

Learning objectives


  • The course enable the students approaching for the first time the protection of the environment in international law to dominate the essence of this crucial theme in continuous development. At the same time, the course offer the student the possibility to specialize in several areas or sectors of international environmental law. The course is divided in two parts: the general part I, and the specific and sectorial part II. The general part I treats the subjects, sources, general principles, the protection of the environment and human rights, citizen’s right to information, public participation and access to justice, and environmental liability and responsibility as a consequence of environmental damage. The specific and sectorial part II will focus on atmospheric pollution and climate change, the law of the sea and the protection of the marine environment, protection of the high seas from oil pollution and dumping of pollutants, protection of species and biological diversity, and transboundary movements of hazardous waste. Special focus will be dedicated to the Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctic) in connection with the ongoing activities at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The course will be oriented in a problem solving approach and will be split into a series of workshops based on project’s works
  • The general part I will enable the students to acquire knowledge of:
  • Historical evolution of international environmental law
  • Subject of international environmental law (i.e., the states, international organizations, United Nations and other international organizations and regional organizations)
  • The sources of international environmental law
  • The general principles of international environmental law (i.e.: the principle of prevention, the principle of precautions, the polluter pays principle, the principle of co-operation, principle of public participation and access to justice)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA)
  • The management of natural resources of common concern and common heritage of humanity
  • Sustainable development
  • Environmental dimension of human rights (environmental protection and social rights, environmental protection and heath rights, forced migration as a consequence of climate change and protection of indigenous people rights linked to the environment)
  • The Aarhus Convention and the mechanisms on non-compliance
  • Environmental damage, liability and responsibility
  • The specific and sectorial part II will enable the students to acquire knowledge of:
  • Espoo Convention, Montréal Protocol, United Nations Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s reports, Paris Agreement, Ramsar Convention, Biodiversity Convention, CITES Convention, Basel Convention , Aarhus Convention, Inuit Circumpolar Declaration (ICC), UNCLOS Convention, MARPOL Convention, OSPAR Convention, UNEP Regional Sea Program and other relevant sectorial treaties and agreements, and governance of environmental pollution at the sea


  • The environmental legal terminology and concepts related to environmental law
  • How to identify human rights and environmental interconnections
  • How to both get an overview and use  the relevant sources of hard law and soft law applicable to cross-cutting topics and problems


  • Contextualize the law in a multilevel dimension (international, regional, national and local) and compare the different sources of law and policy from the different levels in order to solve legal and policy problems related to international environmental law
  • Develop the capacity of legal analysis in cross-sectorial issues
  • Analyze and use case law linking human rights and environmental problems
  • Advise in a professional way on the environmental law applicable on international and regional complex problems at governmental, business and public level

Type of instruction

  • Lectures

Extent and expected workload

  • 270 hours



Name of examThe Protection of the Environment in International Law
Type of exam
Oral exam
20 minutes exam
Permitted aids
Without aids
Assessment7-point grading scale
Type of gradingExternal examination
Criteria of assessmentWe refer to the grading scale order

Additional information

  • The module is open to students from Law and Business Law 

Facts about the module

Danish titleThe Protection of the Environment in International Law
Module codeKA-EJ-13-S33
Module typeCourse
Duration1 semester
Language of instructionEnglish
Empty-place SchemeYes
Location of the lectureCampus Aalborg
Responsible for the module


Study BoardStudy Board of Law
DepartmentDepartment of Law
FacultyThe Faculty of Social Sciences


  • Koivurova, T., “Introduction to international environmental law”, Routledge, 2014
  • Louka, E, “International Environmental law”, 2006, Cambridge University Press (selected parts)
  • Birnie, P, “International Law & the Environment”, 2009, Oxford University Press (selected parts)
  • Sands, P., “Principles of International Environmental Law”, second edition, Cambridge University Press (selected parts)
  • Cassotta, S., “Environmental Damage and Liability Problems in a Multi-level context” – The Case of the Environmental Liability Directive”
  • Kluwer Law International, 2012 (selected parts)
  • Other material, such as, legislations, policy documents, YouTube links and reports to be uploaded on Moodle.