Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview

2. OZONE LAYER

(1) Introduction

The international regime for the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer had a very difficult, but ultimately successful, 1995. 1996 was comparatively calm but not without complications. The central task was to keep the promise that donor countries made in 1995 at the Vienna 7th meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP) that additional commitments by developing countries would be matched by an adequate replenishment of the Multilateral Fund (MLF), the financial mechanism of the Montreal Protocol, for the period 1997 through 1999. Achievement of this goal was essential in order to maintain the credibility and the dynamism of the Montreal Protocol, as it enters a new and critical stage--the application of the first effective controls on developing countries in 1999. With regard to other critical matters, meetings in 1996 served to prepare for a year of difficult discussions in 1997, when critical issues not solved in 1995 were to come up for a decision.

Formal participation in the ozone treaties has increased. At year's end, 162 countries had ratified the Vienna Convention and 160 the Montreal Protocol, while 111 countries had ratified the London Amendment and 62 the Copenhagen Amendment to the Protocol. The adjustments adopted in 1995 at the 7th Meeting of the Parties entered into force in August 1996.

The 1996 meetings of the Vienna Convention, (the 4th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention (COP)), illustrated once again that the Montreal Protocol has emerged as the central instrument of the ozone protection regime. The Vienna Convention, which provided the launching pad for the successful undertaking of the Montreal Protocol, retains some relevance as the legal basis for international cooperation in the area of research and monitoring of the ozone layer, an activity mainly carried out by and under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization. This task, however, no longer justifies holding a completely separate meeting. In consequence, to achieve a maximum of organizational synergy, the meeting of the two Agreements (4th COP/Vienna Convention, 8th MOP/Montreal Protocol) were closely integrated. The Conventions are integrated to the point that for all practical purposes the Vienna Convention is fading away as an operative instrument, despite the retention of separate administrative bodies.

At the opening of the MOP the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, warned that while the ozone regime was fairly successful in comparison to other regimes, the danger to the ozone layer was far from over. Measurements in September 1996 showed that the destruction of stratospheric ozone was similar in extent and depth to earlier years. She also pointed out that while the accumulation of

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