Tag Archives: international environmental law

The Non-Compliance Procedure of the Aarhus Convention: Between Environmental and Human Rights Control Mechanisms (C. Pitea)

Author

Cesare Pitea

Keywords

public participation, decision-making, access to justice, access to information, the Aarhus Convention, international environmental law

Extract

When the Parties to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (“the Aarhus Convention” or “the Convention”), at their  first meeting in Lucca (Italy) in 2002, adopted Decision I/7 on review of compliance, establishing a Compliance Committee (the Committee), it was immediately clear that something unusual and peculiar was taking place in international environmental law. Decision I/7 has its legal basis in Article 15 of the Convention, which provides that:

“The Meeting of the Parties shall establish, on a consensus basis, optional arrangements of a non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature for reviewing compliance with the provisions of this Convention. These arrangements shall allow for appropriate public involvement and may include the option of considering communications from members of the public on matters related to this Convention”.

This language makes an evident, although implicit, reference to the practice of setting up non-compliance procedures (NCPs) under multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), along the lines traced by that established under the Montreal Protocol and subsequently followed under several other MEAs. The link to this model is indeed reflected in the institutional and procedural features of the mechanism, as well as in the language used in the Decision, in that it avoids any wording possibly suggesting judicial or confrontational attitudes. Therefore, expressions such as “non-compliance”, “submission” or “communication”, and “Party concerned” are used instead of the words “breach”, “application” or “defendant”.

At the same time, some aspects of the Aarhus Convention NCP are tremendously innovative. The Compliance Committee is conceived as a body of experts, rather then of Parties’ representatives, and non-State actors (“the public”, in the language of the Convention) are provided with a wide array of entitlements, including that of making communications.7 These features, unusual for NCPs and akin to those of quasi-judicial procedures under human rights treaties, have prompted strong criticism. In particular the United States, a member of UNECE, which is not a Party, nor a signatory to the Convention, requested and obtained to have a statement appended to the Report of the  rst Meeting of the Parties (MOP), in which several aspects of the procedure were highlighted as not being of a “non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature”, as required by Article 15. The idea underlying this position is that the peculiarities of the Aarhus NCP have changed the legal nature of procedure, into a quasi-judicial and confrontational procedure similar to those existing under human rights treaties. Thus the legitimacy of the procedure was questioned and its value as a precedent denied. This article aims at verifying whether the functioning in practice of the mechanism, in the light of the extensive practice developed by the Committee in its  first four years of life, justifies such a view.

Citation

(2006) Italian Yearbook of International Law 16 pp.85-116

Paper

The Non-Compliance Procedure of the Aarhus Convention: Between Environmental and Human Rights Control Mechanisms

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Indigenous Rights and the Environment: Evolving International Law (C. Metcalf)

Author

Cherie Metcalf

Keywords

indigenous rights, international law, international environmental law, environmental rights, cultural integrity model, self-determination, recognition, autonomy, state sovereignty, participation, sustainability, sustainable environmental management

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between indigenous peoples’ rights in international law and international environmental law. Two models underlie the protection of indigenous environmental rights. A “cultural integrity” model recognizes indigenous peoples’ environmental rights as a corollary to the protection and preservation of indigenous culture. In the alternative ‘self-determination” model, indigenous peoples’ environmental rights flow from their recognition as distinct communities with an inherent degree of autonomy and control over their own development. Both models have the potential to transform international environmental law. Recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights allows principles of international environmental law to pierce the veil of state sovereignty. The cultural integrity model offers the potential to broaden the legal framework of international environmental law
through the inclusion of human rights instruments. The self-determination model may lead to indigenous peoples’ independent participation in international agreements addressing environmental concerns. There is a crucial difference between the models. The cultural integrity model incorporates a connection between indigenous rights and sustainable environmental management while the self-determination model is based on indigenous peoples’ right to choose their own environmental policy. There is no inherent relationship between recognition of indigenous rights and sustainable environmental management in the latter model. The implications for international environmental law are more uncertain.

Citation

(2003) Ottawa Law Review 35 (1) 103-40

Paper

Indigenous Rights and the Environment: Evolving International Law 

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Competing Narratives and Complex Genealogies: The Ecosystem Approach in International Environmental Law

Author

Vito De Lucia

Keywords

Ecosystem Approach, international environmental law, anthropocentrism, ecocentrism

Abstract

The ecosystem approach, broadly understood as a legal and governance ‘strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources’ is being increasingly adopted within a wide variety of international environmental legal regimes. From freshwater to oceans, from biodiversity to fisheries, from Antarctica to climate adaptation, the approach provides a narrative, a policy approach and in some cases legally binding obligations for States to implement what has been called a ‘new paradigm’ of environmental management. Responding to hopes of arresting, and reversing, the increasingly negative trends of resource depletion and ecological degradation affecting most ecosystems in the world, the ecosystem approach promises to ‘protect the environment, maintain healthy ecosystems, preserve biological diversity, and achieve sustainable development’, all at once. This article problematises the ecosystem approach in order to highlight its complex genealogies, and its contested and slippery character, which makes it susceptible to discursive capture by competing narratives.

Citation

(2015) 27/1 Journal of of Environmental Law, 91-117

Paper

Competing Narratives and Complex Genealogies: The Ecosystem Approach in International Environmental Law

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Commentary on Article 37 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – Environmental Protection (M. Marin-Duran and E. Morgera)

Author(s)

Gracia Marin-Duran and Elisa Morgera

Keywords

EU Charter, environmental integration, environmental rights, access to justice, international environmental law

Abstract

This paper analyzes Article 37 (Environmental Protection) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights from the viewpoints of EU law and international environmental law. It explores the reasons for the lack of any individually justifiable environmental right of a substantive or procedural character under the Charter. The paper then investigates the potential of Article 37 to influence the interpretation and application of EU law and of other Charter provisions in the light of the EU Treaty requirement of environmental integration.

Citation

(2014) Peers, Hervey, Kenner and Ward, eds. Commentary on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Hart) pp. 983 – 1003.

Paper

Commentary on Article 37 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – Environmental Protection

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Benefit-Sharing as a Bridge between the Environmental and Human Rights Accountability of Multinational Corporations (E. Morgera)

Author(s)

Elisa Morgera

Keywords

corporate accountability, international environmental law, human rights, biodiversity, benefit-sharing

Abstract

This paper analyses the tight linkages between human rights and environmental degradation due to sub-standard corporate conduct. It then proceeds to outline the development of international standards on corporate responsibility and accountability in relation to environmental protection, highlighting the significant level of detail and convergence of international standards for corporate environmental accountability. Against this background, the paper systematically examines instances in which conceptual and normative developments under international environmental law, and in particular under the Convention on Biological Diversity, have contributed to developing international standards on corporate responsibility to respect human rights. The paper furthers the understanding of the key concept of benefit-sharing, teasing out its inter-state and intra-state implications, as well as its current and potential applications to private companies. It concludes with some future perspectives on the role of benefit-sharing in the context of the green economy vis-à-vis the environmental and human rights dimensions of corporate accountability.

Citation

(2015) Boer, Ben ed. Environmental Law Dimensions of Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press) pp. 37-68

Paper

Benefit-Sharing as a Bridge between the Environmental and Human Rights Accountability of Multinational Corporations

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