Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Third State Intervention before the International Court of Justice in International Environmental Law Cases

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posted on 2021-11-14, 04:36 authored by Liebelt, Franziska

Third state intervention before international institutions originated in international arbitration around 1875 and has been included in the statute of the International Court since the foundation of the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ) and is therefore no new phenomenon. Today, most systems of international dispute settlement provide for the possibility of third state intervention. Nevertheless intervention before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been used by states sparsely and seems underdeveloped. The statute of the ICJ provides for two ways of intervention in its arts 62 and 63. There have been few applications under these provisions. Looking at the court’s orders in these few cases, the court seems to have adopted a restrictive approach towards allowing applications to intervene. This paper looks at the institution of intervention in the area of international environmental law disputes. There have been two relevant disputes of this kind before the ICJ: the Nuclear Tests litigation and the recent litigation of Whaling in the Antarctic. Both of these cases dealt with the question of state obligations towards the protection of the environment. The applications to intervene in Nuclear Tests failed for reasons that will be explained in more detail below. New Zealand’s application to intervene in Whaling in the Antarctic was authorized by the ICJ on the 6 February 2013 under art 63 of the Statute of the ICJ. The case is exceptional in that it is only the second time the ICJ allowed intervention under art 63. Both cases demonstrate that there are environmental issues that concern more than only the nations that are parties to the dispute. They indicate that intervention plays a particularly strong role in environmental issues because these issues by their nature often affect more than just two states. This paper analyses how the shared environmental concern of the international community might lead to an extension of intervention before the ICJ. It further more looks at the issues that arose before the court in connection with the intervention in Whaling in the Antarctic and how these issues were dealt with.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Masters Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Palmer, Geoffrey