Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law

Miscellaneous

The Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Judgment after a Quarter Century

Transcending Jurisdictions to Advance Environmental Law

Keywords sustainable development, transboundary consultation, environmental impact assessment, climate litigation, Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros judgment
Authors Alexandra R. Harrington
Author's information

Alexandra R. Harrington
Alexandra R. Harrington: lecturer in law (environment), Lancaster University Law School.
  • Abstract

      In 1997, the ICJ issued its judgment in the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros case. Accompanied by the separate opinion issued by Judge Weeramantry, the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision provided clarifications regarding treaty interpretation questions that are foundational to the ways in which international law is applied. Beyond this, however, the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision has assumed a significant place in the development of environmental law at the international, regional and national levels. This article examines the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision in light of the recent line of environmental rights cases, including those based in the emerging field of climate justice, in order to trace the ways in which the decision has transcended the limitations of time and geography to become a bedrock of environmental law. The article addresses the ways in which the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision has transcended the context of a transboundary water rights claim between Hungary and Slovakia to become an element of emerging cases across the world. To this end, the article chronicles the ways in which the essential elements of the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision are translated into and expanded by cases at the regional level and the national level. Ultimately, the article connects the nuanced fashion in which the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision has grown to transcend the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the case and become a truly internationalized base for the development of environmental laws and environmental rights. Finally, the conclusion of the article notes the potential for the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros decision to continue transcending its initial application to a new generation of environmental concerns.

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