This paper describes the increased presence of non-binding soft law in international environmental law and begins by listing the possible uses of a “non-binding normative instrument.” Next, the paper describes the relationship between soft law and customary international law and notes that soft law may result in subsequent codification of those principles or interpret existing treaty obligations. The paper then contemplates why states are utilizing soft law in international environmental law and discusses issues regarding compliance with non-binding soft law. The paper concludes that the complicated nature of the international system prevents a prediction of the extent to which states will use and enforce hard or soft law.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-29; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-29
Dinah Shelton, Comments on the Normative Challenge of Environmental “Soft Law,” in THE TRANSFORMATION OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW 61–71 (Yann Kerbrat & Sandrine Malijean-Dubois ed., 2011).