28 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2008 Last revised: 17 May 2016
Date Written: December 22, 2008
This paper explores the significance of sustainable development for international environmental law. Sustainable development is treated as a concept rather than a legal principle, whose capacity to influence the system of international environmental law and legal conclusions reached within this legal system can usefully be analysed from the standpoint of rhetorical theory. Sustainable development is treated as akin to a rhetorical commonplace. It has not yet received the status of received wisdom that commonplaces possess, and indeed one of its central functions is to disrupt and challenge received wisdom. Nevertheless, sustainable development can serve as a commonplace, in that it helps structure legal arguments and, more importantly, can be used to render them more persuasive by helping a speaker create an emotional connection with an audience, thus enhancing the appeal of the reasoned arguments presented in support of a given legal position.
Keywords: public international law, international environmental law, sustainable development, rhetoric
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