School of Oriental and African Studies

The School of Law at SOAS offers two postgraduate programmes in environmental law, the LLM in Environmental Law and the MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development.

 

Professor Philippe Cullet is currently either the course convenor or a teacher for the following post-graduate courses:

For enquiries about doctoral supervision (PhD) at SOAS, please contact Prof Philippe Cullet by email. Please enclose a copy of your research proposal, your curriculum vitae and your most recent or most extensive written contribution to date.

 

LLM in Environmental Law

The LLM in Environmental Law provides a unique specialisation in one of the most rapidly developing areas of law. Environmental law is one of the most challenging fields that has grown very rapidly over the past four decades and is now one of the key areas of both domestic and international law. At SOAS, we understand the environment in a broad sense which includes not only environmental issues strictly speaking but also all the links that they have with other areas such as natural resources, human rights, economic development trade or intellectual property rights.

The SOAS degree offers a distinct mix of courses that covers all the main areas of environmental law in their international and national dimensions. The international and global nature of many environmental issues makes the international law component a key part of the LLM in Environmental Law. We offer all the general topics that make up the core of international environmental law. Additionally, we focus specifically on the North-South dimension of international environmental issues given the key role this plays in most international environmental negotiations.

The LLM in Environmental Law specifically seeks to put international environmental law in its national context and examines the broad legal frameworks negotiated at the international level in the context of their implementation in selected countries of the South. It thus provides a much more grounded context to the study of environmental law. Further, we also study the legal regimes of individual countries of the South to provide much more specific analysis of the discipline at the level of its implementation in specific contexts. The LLM in Environmental Law gives specific emphasis to different regions of the South, including South Asia, China and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development

The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development provides a unique specialisation in one of the most rapidly developing areas of law. Environmental law is one of the most challenging fields that has grown very rapidly over the past four decades and is now one of the key areas of both domestic and international law. At SOAS, we understand the environment in a broad sense which includes not only environmental issues strictly speaking but also all the links that they have with other areas such as natural resources, human rights, economic development trade or intellectual property rights.

The SOAS degree offers a distinct mix of courses that covers all the main areas of environmental law in their international and national dimensions. The international and global nature of many environmental issues makes the international law component a key part of the MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development. We offer all the general topics that make up the core of international environmental law. Additionally, we focus specifically on the North-South dimension of international environmental issues given the key role this plays in most international environmental negotiations.

The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development specifically seeks to put international environmental law in its national context and examines the broad legal frameworks negotiated at the international level in the context of their implementation in selected countries of the South. It thus provides a much more grounded context to the study of environmental law. Further, we also study the legal regimes of individual countries of the South to provide much more specific analysis of the discipline at the level of its implementation in specific contexts. The MA in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development gives specific emphasis to different regions of the South, including South Asia, China and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Climate Change Law and Policy

This course is offered to SOAS students on any of the LLM or MA in Law programmes.

Description

This course complements the existing offering in environmental law and offers a more focused course on one of the most sensitive environmental issues of our time. It seeks to provide a broad analytical view of the problem of climate change law and policy in its broader context. The course will first examine a number of background topics as well as the main international legal instruments that constitute international climate law and policy. This will include an examination of the underlying principles of climate change law and policy, an introduction to the UN Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, a focus on specific legal issues arising the context of the UN regime such as compliance and liability as well as an analysis of more specific problems such as regional approaches and relations between climate change law and other areas of law such as trade law. The course will then move on to examine a number of specific problems arising in the context of the law and policy response to climate change both concerning mitigation and adaptation. Specific problems examine will include human rights implications, agriculture and climate change, land-use, forests and biodiversity and climate change, energy and transport.

Objectives

The course aims to provide a comprehensive survey of the developments of law and policy in relation to climate change. The course will critically examine interlinkages between normative and substantive developments in a number of law and policy fields relating to climate change including trade, investment, liability and redress, adaptation and development. It will primarily adopt an international perspective but will also draw on regional and country case studies. The latter will provide the basis for comparing the ongoing development of climate change law and policy in countries of the North and South.

Students on completing the course will be able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of and familiarity with the most salient issues within climate related law and policies. They will be able to show familiarity with key legal and policy developments across such a broad range: energy sector, marine, insurance and liability, human rights, adaptation and finance mechanisms. This will give any student an advantage in gaining employment as employees within law firms, governments, businesses and non-state actors seek climate literate candidates to fill this new section of the job market.

 

Intellectual Property and Development

This course is offered to SOAS students on any of the LLM or MA in Law programmes.

Description

The introduction of an intellectual property rights related agreement in the context of the World Trade Organization has had tremendous implications worldwide. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) adopted in 1994 is only one of several important WTO treaties and only one of many intellectual property rights treaties. It has, however, been instrumental in bringing intellectual property rights to the centre stage of policy-making in a great number of developing countries.

This course examines the intellectual property rights regime in its broader environment, with particular emphasis on the situation of developing countries. It endeavours to analyse intellectual property issues in the context of sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

The first part of the course is devoted to an introduction to the basic concepts underlying the development of intellectual property rights in national and international law. This includes an introduction to the conceptual foundations for intellectual property protection and the basic relevant treaties in the field.

Following this general part, the course analyses intellectual property within the broader social, environmental and economic framework in which it falls. In this context, it focuses on a number of issues of particular importance to developing countries. These include:

  • Environment, including the link between environmental treaties and patents, as well as benefit-sharing regimes

  • Biotechnology, in particular agro-biotechnology and life patenting;

  • Agriculture, including the consideration of farmers’ rights and plant breeders rights (International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants – UPOV);

  • Traditional knowledge, including sui generis protection and the relevance of existing intellectual property rights (patents, copyright, geographical indications) for the protection of traditional knowledge;

  • Medical patents, including in particular issues of access to medicines, the impacts on health and pharmaceutical policies in developing countries and the human right to health;

Case studies in the above-mentioned areas or other areas are also considered. These include in particular the consideration of individual developing countries’ implementation of their obligations under the TRIPS Agreement in specific fields and current developments at the national, regional and international levels to develop alternative forms of intellectual property rights, for instance with regard to traditional knowledge and plant varieties.

Objectives

This course seeks to equip students with a broad understanding of the international intellectual property rights system, the main forms of intellectual property rights and the relevant international institutional framework. Its specificity is to provide students with a broad understanding of intellectual property in the context of sustainable development, emphasising all three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic and social. In other words, it seeks to equip students with the necessary analytical tools to understand intellectual property in its broader environment, with particular emphasis on the situation of developing countries.

 

International Environmental Law

This course is offered to SOAS students on any of the LLM or MA in Law programmes.

Description

This course focuses on international legal and institutional arrangements concerning the management of the environment. It examines both theoretical and practical dimensions of these arrangements. The course focuses primarily on international/global treaties and institutions. However, selected regional regimes are considered where relevant and reference is made to domestic arrangements while considering the implementation, effectiveness and impacts of international legal regimes.

The course generally explores the most salient aspects of the expanding area of international environmental law. It examines in particular some of the ‘global’ environmental issues that have risen to the top of the international agenda following the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Conference) and the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The course focuses on several key aspects of international environmental law. In particular, it considers issues related to the protection of the environment (pollution), the conservation of the environment (species and habitats) and the use/exploitation of environmental resources (species, genetic resources, agriculture, fisheries).

The course examines environmental issues in their broader context. In particular, it focuses on the links between environmental management and economic development, with particular reference to the notion of sustainable development. Other concerns, such as the link between the environment and human rights and between environment and trade are also be examined.

International environmental law is today intrinsically related to the concept of sustainable development. In keeping with the strong development component of much recent international environmental law, the course often makes reference to the North-South dimension of the issues examined. These includes both theoretical aspects, such as the question of preferential treatment (equity) in international environmental law and more practical aspects such as the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Change Convention.

The course also puts special emphasis on measures taken to foster the implementation of the numerous international treaties adopted at the international level. It examines international legal and institutional arrangements in this regard. This includes, in particular, an analysis of the role of environmental financial mechanisms (and, more generally, multilateral development banks) in the realisation of the goals of international environmental instruments. Further, the relationship between environmental protection and trade is examined both from the point of view of environmental instruments (e.g., emissions trading in the climate change regime) and from the point of view of the international trade regime, especially as embodied in the World Trade Organization.

While the course generally focuses on the international legal framework, a comprehensive account of the international legal regime must include references to domestic arrangements. Indeed, international environmental law instruments are often general in nature and the lack of strong enforcement procedures implies that the realisation of international environmental norms is often dependent on national implementation. This is especially the case in a number of developing countries. The course examines the role of diverse local and international actors in this process, including national courts.

The course also considers international institutional arrangements regarding the management of the environment. It considers both institutions dealing primarily with the environment and the role of other institutions. The role of governments, the civil society, the private sector and other actors in negotiating and implementing international environmental law is also examined.

Objectives

The course seeks to introduce the general international legal and institutional framework relating to the management of the environment. It is designed to equip students with analytical tools with which they may understand the international legal framework of environmental law in its broader context, including political, economic, social and ecological dimensions.

 

Law and Natural Resources

This course is offered to SOAS students on any of the LLM or MA in Law programmes.

Description

This course examines international, regional and national legal and institutional arrangements concerning the conservation and use of natural resources. It introduces legal principles relevant to the conservation and use of natural resources in international and national law. This course focuses on the international law aspects of natural resource use and conservation, the North-South dimension and on individual developing country case studies.

Natural resource regulation is analysed within the broad conceptual framework of the notion of sustainable development. As a result, this course examines simultaneously economic development aspects of natural resource regulation, social development aspects and environmental aspects. This course specifically seeks to make the links between the exploitation of natural resources for macro-economic development and subsistence and other uses of natural resources for food security and health needs as well as the links between use for economic development and conservation, for instance, in the context of broader policy challenges such as climate change.

This course starts with a background to natural resource regulation, including basic principles of international law relevant to natural resources, such as sovereignty and related concepts for natural resource appropriation, differential treatment/equity, sustainable development and human rights. It also examines the role of some of the main actors in natural resource use and conservation such as the World Bank and transnational companies. The course then moves on to examine a number of more specific issues within the context of selected natural resources. Natural resources considered may include water, genetic resources, forests, marine living and mineral resources of the seabed, minerals and energy.

Objectives

This course seeks to equip students with a broad understanding of the law related to natural resources. It specifically seeks to provide students with knowledge of basic concepts and principles underlying the conservation and use of natural resources at the international and national levels. It examines in particular the regulation of natural resources within the overall framework of sustainable development. It thus seeks to equip students with the ability to understand and analyse issues concerning natural resource conservation and use from a broad perspective encompassing their economic, social and environmental dimensions.

 

Water Law: Justice and Governance

This course is offered to master students at SOAS.

Description

This course examines water law and policy in the broader context of the governance framework that is increasingly influenced by conflicts over the resource. It seeks to provide students with a broad understanding of the multi-faceted issues arising in the water sector from the local to the international level. It uses national case studies, as well as regional international issues to analyse the multiplicity of issues arising in the water sector.

The course focuses on the law and policy framework. It examines water law as a separate branch of the law, its sectoral development and its basic principles. It addresses the multiplicity of legal instruments making up the water regulatory framework, ranging from constitutional issues to laws, judicial pronouncements and policy instruments. Further, it considers water law in its evolving dimension that includes both a set of policy reforms and a range of new water laws progressively introduced since the mid-1990s. It further considers the links between the law and policy framework at the national level, the water policy framework at the international level and some of the mechanisms and institutions that ensure the transition from the international to the national level. This general part is followed by forays into specific sectoral issues. These include consideration of the law and policy framework for different water uses such as drinking water as well as different water bodies such as surface and groundwater. These issues are contextualised with a focus on issues that are most relevant for each sector.

This course provides a complement to the offering in environment and natural resource law in an area that is increasingly central both in terms of conservation and use.

 

Water and Development: Conflict and Governance

This course is offered to master students at SOAS.

Description

This course examines the relation between water and development in the broader context of the governance framework that is increasingly influenced by conflicts over the resource. It seeks to provide students with a broad understanding of the multi-faceted issues arising in the water sector from the local to the international level. It uses national case studies, as well as regional international issues to analyse the multiplicity of issues arising in the water sector.

The course focuses on how legal, governance and policy frameworks for water resources have been contested in recent decades, an era of intensifying (neo)liberalisation and globalisation, and rapid economic growth in many parts of the world. The course examines the structures, practices and discourses of water resourcesí political contestation. At sub-regional level it focuses on domains/sub-sectors like groundwater irrigation and surface water irrigation, to address issues like institutional approaches to unequal water access and distribution. At national level it focuses on domains/sub-sectors like large dam building and wetlands, to address issues like displacement & resettlement through water infrastructure development and environmental justice. At transboundary level the course focuses on inter-state negotiations of river basin governance and management, to address issues like benefit sharing and water security. For each configuration of level, domain/sub-sector and issue, analytical frameworks will be presented , and situated in broader debates on global environmental governance. The course critically examines the institutional arrangement for water governance, and analyses contemporary challenges to water resource governance in terms of evolving regulatory frameworks and processes of democratisation.

The course provides a complement to the offering in environment and natural resources law, governance and development in an area that is increasingly central both in terms of conservation and use.