UDC 341.645.2:341.224(728.5:728.6)
Biblid: 0025-8555, 68(2016)
Vol. 68, No 1, pp. 72-94
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/MEDJP1601072V

Оriginal article
Received: 15 Dec 2015
Accepted: 15 Jan 2016


VUČIĆ Mihajlo (Autor je naučni saradnik u Institutu za međunarodnu politiku i privredu, Beograd), mihajlo@diplomacy.bg.ac.rs

The paper deals with the legal institute of transboundary environmental impact assessment and its application in concrete reality of international relations. The article starts from the recent judgment of the ICJ in the environmental dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua which was based on the analysis of the content, legal status and mode of application of this institute. The author firstly gives a brief overview of factual background and legal history of the dispute so as to enable the reader to understand the context of the judgment. The author points the climate and environmental factors that create the politically tense climate in the region. Then, the legal analysis of transboundary environmental impact assessment in general international law is given through the overview of legal scholarship, treaty norms and international jurisprudence. A separate section is devoted to the application of this institute in the branch of international law which regulates the use of international watercourses, since the crux of the dispute is about the usage of the shared San Juan river and its ecosystems. In the last part, the interpretation of this institute in the disposition of the judgment of the ICJ is given, and some examples of Court’s argumentation which represent a new understanding of some elements of this institute or which clear previous dilemmas concerning the modes of interpretation are presented. The author points out also that the Court has missed the opportunity to shed additional light on the mode of application of this institute in the emergency cases on the territory of the state which is under an obligation to apply it. The article concludes with the statement that the judgment in the dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua has on the whole contributed to the established status of this institute as the norm of general international law, however, it still stands for further legal practice to define the precise contents of the procedure for its application.

Keywords: environmental impact assessment, International Court of Justice, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, international watercourses