Hard Law, Soft Law and Diplomacy: The Emerging Paradigm for Intergovernmental Cooperation in Environmental Assessment

  • Steven A. Kennett


The author uses a paradigm derived from international law to assess the evolution of federal-provincial cooperation in environmental assessment (EA) in Canada. He examines the development of intergovernmental diplomacy and the evolution from soft to harder law through such measures as intergovernmental agreements on EA and legislation. Intergovernmental cooperation in EA is described in its constitutional context and its development is analyzed from a legal perspective. An examination of recent judicial decisions concerning major interjurisdictional projects underlines the need for cooperative EA arrangements. Four stages of the hardening of soft law are identified to illustrate how the legal framework for intergovernmental cooperation in EA may progress from general principles to formal intergovernmental arrangements and legally binding rules.