Chicago Journal of International Law


The international community has long been struggling to find an effective mechanism to resolve transboundary environmental disputes. On June 19, 2001, the ninety-four Member States of the Permanent Court of Arbitration ("PCA") adopted by consensus the Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment ("Rules"), based on the widely used Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law ("UNCITRAL Rules"). The drafters claim that the Rules make the PCA the first unified international forum for environmental dispute resolution. Although the Rules do provide several innovative features particularly suitable for handling environmental disputes, the absence of compulsory jurisdiction and other procedural limitations will seriously undermine the effectiveness and applicability of the Rules.