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Abstract

This article calls for a fundamental reorientation of international environmental law to bridge the North-South divide and respond to the ecological crises of the Anthropocene. Such a reconceptualization of international environmental law must be normatively grounded in respect for nature and in the quest for environmental justice within, as well as between, countries.

International environmental law must directly challenge the relentless drive toward economic expansion and unbridled exploitation of people and nature rather than merely attempt to mitigate its excesses. An essential step toward such a reconceptualization is to examine the ways in which international law has historically engaged with nature and with the peoples of the global South in order to identify the policies and practices that subordinate the South and hasten the destruction of the planet's ecosystems.

The article proceeds in four parts. Part I examines the colonial and post-colonial origins of the North-South divide. Part II analyzes the role of international economic law in perpetuating unsustainable and inequitable patterns of production and consumption. Part III argues that sustainable development has failed to challenge the dominant, growth-oriented economic paradigm at the core of the ecological and economic crisis. Finally, Part IV discusses the way forward.