University of Hertfordshire

Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Justice, Broadening the Notion of Responsibility in International Law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

  • Virginie Barral
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponsibility in World Politics. Moral Agency, Contestation and Normativity
EditorsHannes Hansen-Magnusson, Antje Vetterlein
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
Publication statusSubmitted - 2016


This chapter explores the meanings and practices in international law of the notion of responsibility stemming from its inclusion and use in the principle of CBDR, and it attempts to conceptualise the various frameworks of responsibility that the principle gives rise to. It contends that the competing conceptual groundings attributed to CBDR as well as the variety of its practical legal translations contribute to a broadening of the understanding of the notion of responsibility in international law which straddles along a mix of scenarios, ranging from moral to causal responsibility, with a number of stops in between. In order to capture the competing contentions relating to the meaning of responsibility in the CBDR principle, a conscious choice has been made to approach the notion from the broad perspective of international environmental law and across several sub-policy fields. It thus dips into the ozone depletion regime, biodiversity protection, the law of the sea, or the WTO, as well as climate change law wherever useful lessons may be learned for the framing of responsibility. It is suggested that this approach is more able to shed light not only on the practices of responsibility among various communities within a specific policy field such as climate governance, but also across policy fields. Hence the practices of responsibility attached to CBDR may well differ between the actors of the climate change debate and those of the ozone depletion regime.

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