Judicial Transplantation as a Backdoor to Environmental Normative Integration in ASEAN

This paper argues that Southeast Asian judiciaries hold a backdoor key that would allow the incorporation of environmental norms in a region sensitive to international law intruding on domestic sovereignty. Although the level of receptiveness may vary, decisions and rules crafted by a select ASEAN judiciaries indicate a growing openness to applying environmental law principles from multilateral agreements, national laws, and foreign court decisions. The past six meetings of the ASEAN Chief Justices’ Roundtable on Environment further exemplify the eagerness of judges to study each other’s laws and enforcement mechanisms to help them develop their own nation’s environmental jurisprudence. The collective behavior of these judiciaries suggests that legal transplantation by way of court decisions can potentially serve as a viable alternative towards the convergence of environmental norms in the region.