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Business and Industry

posted on 2023-05-22, 19:17 authored by Benjamin RichardsonBenjamin Richardson, Sjaafjell, B
In the study of international environmental law, business corporations are typically viewed as actors under the auspices of various regulatory regimes developed by nation-​ states, or recognized as having some tacit influence over the agenda setting and implementation of such regimes. 1 This perspective might also acknowledge the limited accountability of corporations under international law. 2 Another perspective, which this chapter includes, is the business sector’s initiative in shaping its own environmental agenda, often in the name of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR). The traditional conception of international environmental law as dominated by nation-​ states and intergovernmental organizations is at odds with the heterogeneous and pluralistic character of contemporary governance unleashed by economic globalization and market deregulation that have opened significant space for business in global environmental decision-​making.

This chapter introduces this subject, focusing on four key themes: (1) the institutional characteristics of the business corporation and its marketplace that influence the environmental performance of the private sector; (2) the CSR movement, which responds to criticisms of the environmental performance of business; (3) corporate accountability and liability under international environmental law; and (4) governance regimes fostering collaborative, multi-​stakeholder processes that involve the private sector. This chapter should be read in conjunction with several others in this handbook that touch directly or indirectly on the business sector, notably chapters on investment law 3 and non-​state actors.


Publication title

The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law


L Rajamani and J Peel






Faculty of Law


Oxford University Press

Place of publication




Rights statement

Copyright 2021 Oxford University Press

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other economic framework not elsewhere classified; Environmental policy, legislation and standards not elsewhere classified