Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly


INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT. Simon Baughen, Reader in Law, University of Bristol. Routledge-Cavendish, London (2007) xxxii and 348 pp, plus 20 pp Index. Paperback £31.99.
In his recent book, Simon Baughen analyses the legal face of our globalized economy, entrenched and bolstered as it is by strong legal regimes and instruments at international and domestic levels, and examines how it interacts with legal efforts to protect the environment. Baughen notes that, in the current global economy-promoting legal order, measures adopted to protect the environment at a national level are liable to sidelining and invalidation. Similarly, international efforts to develop environmental protection treaties between nation states are compromised. Baughen suggests that the developing international economic legal order is liable to provoke a worldwide “regulatory chill” when it comes to protecting the environment.
Against this background, the explicit aim of Baughen’s book is to determine the legal balance that is currently being struck internationally between free trade and environmental protection. He pursues this enquiry by two paths, which are examined sequentially in the book. First and foremost, Baughen engages in a comprehensive discussion of the various legal regimes that exist to protect and promote international trade and investment, and analyses the role of environmental protection in those regimes, or, more accurately, how those regimes affect (primarily national) environmental protection regulation. Secondly, Baughen takes the idea of international trade to its sometimes environmentally damaging conclusion and addresses what legal redress there is for those who suffer environmental damage in developing countries due to the industrial activities of multinational corporations there. To the extent that these two lines of enquiry are premised on there being a legal “constitution of a single global economy”, the ground on which they are based is not entirely convincing—a trend towards strong legal mechanisms for international trade regulation and facilitation does not a constitution make. However, Baughen’s basic point seems to be a finer and more convincing one: in the current trend of various legal orders to introduce and/or apply rules and practices that facilitate free international trade and investment, there is an important question to be asked about how these regimes impact on legal efforts to protect the environment and how/whether they accommodate channels of legal redress for transnational environmental harm.
At this point it should be noted that it is not entirely clear how to describe Baughen’s book. It is not a self-styled textbook; it is not a casebook as such; it is not a monograph. It is described on its back cover as “a comprehensive and detailed legal analysis … of what looks set to become the new legal order of the twenty-first century”. The book does not, however, analyse in any great detail the nature of that legal order, nor does it defend strongly the “economic constitution” point just mentioned, with which it leads in its Introduction. Nor, for that matter, does it make any arguments about the development of a “regulatory chill” when it comes to protection of the environment, which the Introduction alarmingly suggests might be the result of international economic law as it currently stands (at most Baughen acknowledges at certain points that no such chilling effect has been seen to date). Baughen’s book is best described as a handbook—a compendium and analysis of the legal developments that have led to concern about a regulatory chill occurring. It is part


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