2021-10-04

Law and Science in Environmental Governance: The Effects of Legal and Scientific Argumentation in the International Whaling Commission

"Talking International Law. Legal Argumentation outside the Courtroom" was published today by Ian Johnstone and Steven Ratner and also contains a chapter by Prof. Dr. Lisbeth Zimmermann. 

In her chapter, "Law and Science in Environmental Governance: The Effects of Legal and Scientific Argumentation in the International Whaling Commission," she examines the effects of legal and scientific argumentation in the field of environmental policy and law in the dispute over a Moratorium on Commercial Whaling in the International Whaling Commission. In this multilateral context, what types of argumentation did states prefer to use to challenge the moratorium, and with what effects?


The chapter shows that in this highly politicized context, legal and scientific arguments dominate, but normative arguments are surprisingly prevalent. Moreover, different types of arguments are used by opponents of the challenge for different purposes, and institutional settings influence how these arguments can be dealt with.


The book was published by Oxford University Press and can be viewed and pre-ordered here.


In the following the Abstract of the Chapter of Prof Dr Lisbeth Zimmermann

The source of authority and the precise working of international law are highly contested among scholars of international law and international relations. Many agree, however, that legal argumentation takes a distinct form: signaling authority in global politics and leading to a less open display of power. Yet legal argumentation might not be so unique. In the field of environmental governance and environmental law, a similar debate exists about the quality and effects of scientific argumentation. Moreover, the logics of legal and scientific argumentation are oftentimes intertwined in the institutional structure of environmental regimes. This chapter analyzes the dispute around a moratorium on commercial whaling in the context of the International Whaling Commission. Which type of argumentation did states prefer in this multilateral context to contest the moratorium, and with what kind of effects? The chapter shows that in this highly politicized context, legal and scientific argumentation dominates but normative argumentation is surprisingly widespread. Moreover, different types of arguments are used by challengers for different ends and the institutional settings influence how these arguments can be dealt with.

Time to decide

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