The principle of sustainable development as a legal norm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


This chapter seeks to determine the current legal status of the principle of sustainable development in international law. There has been considerable debate about the legal nature of the principle of sustainable development as well as its meaning. Is it really a legal principle? This question is answered in the affirmative. Increased reference to sustainable development - sometimes as a principle but more often as an objective or a concept - has indeed led to its stronger normative power and its stronger legal status. The integration of environmental concerns into decision-making processes has been broadly accepted and it can authoritatively be seen as a firm legal duty. Although many commentators probably think that this process has not gone fast enough, it is the view of the author of this chapter that an extrapolation of the use of the principle of sustainable development will see a further increase of its impact upon judicial reasoning and upon how legal texts will be drafted in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch handbook on fundamental concepts of environmental law
EditorsDouglas Fisher
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781839108327
ISBN (Print)978 1 83910 831 0
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Publication series

NameResearch Handbooks in Environmental Law
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing


  • environmental law
  • principles
  • precautionary principle
  • sustainable development
  • global pact for the environment
  • Rio Earth summit


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