Beyond Adjudication: Resolving International Resource Disputes in an Era of Climate Change

48 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2011

Date Written: June 17, 2011


This Article examines the role of international adjudication as a mechanism for resolving international disputes and promoting global peace and security in an era of climate change. The central claim is that adjudication has limitations that make it ineffective as a tool for resolving international resource disputes. The Article argues that adjudication is limited due to source and process challenges and it illustrates this claim by reviewing cases adjudicated by the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and other international courts and tribunals. Four categories of adjudication limitation emerge: a) cases where the parties refused to submit to adjudication, b) cases where the judicial decision did not address the merits of the dispute, c) cases of noncompliance and d) cases where there was a recurrence of the dispute or conflict. In response, the Article suggests that reliance on adjudication as the primary form of international dispute resolution in this context is misplaced. Instead, the Article argues that adjudication may be more effective when combined with non-judicial dispute resolution methods such as mediation and facilitation. Three case studies illustrate how the integration of dispute resolution approaches has successfully resolved international resource disputes and the conflicts they were a part of. By establishing a clear descriptive account of the limitations of adjudication in this context, this Article seeks to move international dispute resolution beyond its traditional paradigm in order to advance global capacity to resolve disputes and prevent conflict in an era of climate change.

Keywords: International Law, International Dispute Resolution, Adjudication, Mediation, Climate Change

Suggested Citation

Spain Bradley, Anna, Beyond Adjudication: Resolving International Resource Disputes in an Era of Climate Change (June 17, 2011). Stanford Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Anna Spain Bradley (Contact Author)

UCLA ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

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