The Challenge of an International Environmental Criminal Law

22 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010

See all articles by Frederic Megret

Frederic Megret

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 2, 2010


This draft chapter for an edited collection examines the theoretical prospects of an international criminal law of the environment, in light of the evolution of international criminal law and the constraints posed by the concept of the environment itself. It suggests that international criminal law’s drive towards “cosmopolitan” crimes has left the international community curiously disarmed when it comes to “global” crimes such as those against the environment. International criminal law is confronted with the tragedy of the commons and the fact that, whilst all states collectively have an interest in certain grave attacks on the environment being repressed, no state individually is keen to take on that responsibility. The chapter nonetheless assesses a number of arguments both in favor of criminalization of attacks against the environment and for their international repression. Ultimately, the emergence of an international environmental criminal law would complement existing modes of regulation of the environment, not pose insurmountable problems to criminal law, and affirm the international community’s very global interest in ensuring that the conditions of global communal life are guaranteed.

Suggested Citation

Mégret, Frédéric, The Challenge of an International Environmental Criminal Law (April 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Frédéric Mégret (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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