Resolution – Athens, January 2001

Resolving the Environmental Crisis – The Need for an International Court of the Environment

Athens, January 2001


Acknowledging the existence of a global environmental crisis that threatens all the major ecosystems and life – bios – on our planet;

Acknowledging also the growing public demand for an urgent solution to this crisis and the need to espouse new ethics;

Recognising the fundamental right to a healthy environment in conformity with human dignity and the need of each individual to have appropriate legal access;

Recognising also that all States and all people should co-operate in eradicating poverty and in protecting the global environment for the benefit of present and future generations;

Emphasising that the international community has an obligation, as the guardian of global natural resources, to conserve, protect and restore these resources and to protect all other species from further pollution, contamination and extinction;

Emphasising also that an International Court of the Environment could also contribute to the development and promotion of international environmental law;

Emphasising further that such a court is intended to be complementary to international, regional and national judicial systems, including the relevant compliance and enforcement instruments;

Reaffirming the Millennium Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 18, 2000 and, in, particular the relevant articles pertaining to respect for nature and the protection of our common environment; and

Recalling the spirit of the resolutions adopted at the conference at George Washington University on April 15-17, 1999, by the Biopolitics International Organisation on June 7, 2000, and at the International Court of the Environment Foundation Conference in Rome, on November 10, 2000

it is resolved that:

  1. There is an urgency to recommend to governments, parliaments, international organisations and non-state actors to consider, without further delay, the establishment of an International Court of the Environment with mandatory jurisdiction and broad legal access.
  2. There is a fundamental human right to a healthy environment that can be protected through such a court.
  3. Pending the establishment of such a Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is considered the appropriate forum to resolve environmental disputes.
  4. The recent efforts made by the PCA to develop a specific set of rules of procedure to resolve disputes pertaining to natural resources and the protection of the environment are welcomed.
  5. Governments and parliaments are invited to be guided by the spirit of this resolution in their forthcoming meetings and conferences on these and related issues.

Conference themes and participants

International Court of the Environment – Need and Structure

Greece: Biopolitics – bio-culture – a millennium vision for peace, Dr. Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis, B.I.O. President and Founder – Ethical framework for the protection of the bio-environment, Kitty P. Kyriacopoulos, Honorary Chairman of the Board, Silver and Baryte Ores Mining Co.

Italy: Need for an International Court of the Environment, Judge Amedeo Postiglione, Director, International Court of the Environment Foundation – International Court of the Environment – Yes, but in which form? Professor Giovanni Conso, President Emeritus, Constitutional Court – Environmental aspects of the Charter of the International Criminal Court, Dr. Ivano Iai, Constitutional Court

Business and Finance

Greece: Contribution of an industry to environmental protection, Anthony Gortzis, President, World Federation of Advertisers and Director of Corporate and Media Relations, Unilever – Financing and the environment, Constantine Kanonis, President, Hellenic-Russian Chamber of Commerce – Environmental responsibilities of business – International co-operation, Panayotis Koutsikos, President, ERGO SA

International Proposals

France: War in Yugoslavia – Environmental impact on South-East Europe, John Hartland, Counsellor and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe

Sweden: Protecting the environment – A challenge on three levels, Maggi Mikaelsson, Member of Parliament

Germany: Institutional reform of international policy – Advancing the debate on a World Environment Organisation, Professor Udo Simonis, Science Center Berlin

Greece: Democratic procedures as a value system for the protection of the environment, Dr. Harilaos Harakas, Legal Adviser, Union of Greek Industries

Access to Environmental Justice – Methods of Implementation

Belgium: European perspectives on access to justice in environmental matters, George Kremlis, Head, Judicial and Legislative Affairs European Commission DG XI

Germany: Peaceful settlement of transnational environmental conflicts – Why not by an International Court of the Environment? Professor Alfred Rest, Senior Academic Counsellor, University of Cologne

Greece: Global justice for the environment, Dr. John Sarmas, Councillor, National Court of Audits

Global Governance

France: Responsibilities and penalties – The necessity for a world executive instrument for air and water, Francine Cousteau, President, Equipe Cousteau

The Netherlands: Resolving environmental disputes – From negotiation to adjudication, Tjaco van den Hout, Secretary General, Permanent Court of Arbitration