This course offers a broad introduction to international environmental law, after which students will gain a specialized insight into the legal framework applicable to the Arctic region. The Arctic region is environmentally vulnerable, and is thus greatly affected by climate change. Climate change threatens biodiversity, the livelihoods of Arctic indigenous peoples, and leads to sea level rises and changing weather patterns, amongst others. This, in turn, leads to increased shipping in the Arctic as well as fisheries moving up further North. The North West Passage and the Northern Sea Route will likely be used for commercial shipping in the near future, leading to increased risks of oil pollution in the vulnerable Arctic ecosystems.
International environmental law is a rapidly developing field that seeks to mitigate effects of climate change and protect the environment. It involves a multitude of multilateral treaties, declarations and other instruments of international law. This course aims to provide students with an introduction to the major concepts, cases and principles that together shape the body of international environmental law. Students will learn how these concepts and principles apply in the Arctic, especially in the context of climate change.
The course covers the following topics:
- The international legal framework, including international environmental law, the law and institutional arrangements specifically applicable to the Arctic region (such as the Arctic Council), and the law of the sea.
- Key principles and concepts of international environmental law, including the precautionary approach, the ecosystem approach, sustainable development, environmental impact assessments and marine protected areas.
- The various dispute settlement procedures available to States in case of an international environmental dispute related to the Arctic region
- Substantive areas of international environmental law, such as atmospheric protection and climate change regulations, the protection of the marine environment, biodiversity, fisheries and marine mammals.
- The role of indigenous people in the Arctic in the context of climate change
- The relationship between international environmental law and other branches of public international law, such as human rights law and trade law.
- The remaining challenges in the Arctic, the scope and limits of international environmental law, and whether there is a need for an Arctic Treaty
Students must be on master level and should have a basic knowledge of public international law and/or the law of the sea.
Students at the Integrated master´s degree programme in law may choose this course as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for the elective part of the programme's fifth year, cf. Programme Specification for the Master's Degree in Jurisprudence at the University of Tromsø (Studieplan for graden Master i rettsvitenskap ved Universitetet i Tromsø), Sec. 4.
Followed by necessary application and admission process, other students (such as exchange students) may also choose this course, cf. Regulations for the Elective Component in the Master's Degree Programme in Jurisprudence (Reglement for den valgfrie delen av masterstudiet i rettsvitenskap) (Regulation).
Students who do not have admission to the Master of Law-studies at the Faculty of Law must contact the Faculty for information about required qualifications and application process for this course.
Having passed the exam, the student shall have acquired:
- Advanced knowledge of the international environmental legal framework applicable to the Arctic
- Advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts of international environmental law, such as the precautionary approach, the ecosystem approach, environmental impact assessments, etc.
- Advanced knowledge of the obligations under international environmental law to protect the environment in a context of climate change, such as atmospheric protection and the protection of biodiversity
- Advanced knowledge of the obligations under the law of the sea relating to the protection of the marine environment in the Arctic
- General knowledge of the dispute settlement procedures applicable to international environmental disputes in the Arctic
- Knowledge of the role of indigenous peoples in the Arctic in relation to climate change
- Knowledge of the Svalbard Treaty
- Knowledge of the relationship between international environmental law and other branches of public international law
Having passed the exam, the student is able to
- identify and analyze questions of theoretical and practical character in the international environmental law applicable to the Arctic
- analyze critically and use various sources of information to structure and formulate scholarly and practical arguments
- independently and critically interpret and apply the relevant sources of law
- identify the limitations of the existing law applicable to the Arctic region
- undertake an independent and critical research project relating to international environmental law applicable to the Arctic
Having passed the exam, the student:
- can apply his/her knowledge to new legal scenarios
- can communicate effectively, both orally and in the written form, about international environmental law issues related to the Arctic
- knows how to write a scholarly paper, find relevant academic sources, and adhere to academic integrity
- is able to demonstrate his/her ability to cooperate and work together in a group
- masters the English language and terminology within this field of law
- will be able to engage in one of the most complex legal challenges we face today