Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Multipolar Governance across Environmental Treaty Regimes

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Multipolar Governance across Environmental Treaty Regimes

Article excerpt

This panel was convened at 9:00 am, Saturday, April 6, by its moderator, Mark Drumbl of Washington and Lee University, who introduced the panelists: Kim Diana Connolly of Buffalo Law School; David Downes of the Office of International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; Timo Koivurova of the Arctic Center, University of Lapland; and Katharina Kummer Peiry of Kummer EcoConsult.


This panel, co-sponsored by the Government Attorneys Interest Group and the International Environmental Law Interest Group, firmly buttresses the theme of our 107th Annual Meeting, "International Law in a Multipolar World," within the specific context of international environmental law. Panelists will explore the vexing questions of how--and why--multipolar governance remains uneven across various environmental treaty regimes. They will approach this foundational question through case studies of five separate--although certainly interconnected--regimes. Dr. Katharina Kummer Peiry opens the discussion with the Basel Convention, the only global treaty covering waste management. David Downes follows with the Convention on Biological Diversity. Dr. Peiry and Mr. Downes will both assess how these two treaty regimes have moved from a North-South dyad to a much broader multipolar kaleidoscope animated by cross-cutting cleavages and addressing a wide spectrum of issues. Professor Kim Diana Connolly will set out the background and role of multiple actors in the Ramsar Convention, which relates to wetlands and is among the oldest of the international environmental treaties. Professor Timo Koivurova will consider the Arctic and Antarctic polar regimes, both of which differ considerably and one of which--the Arctic regime--is entering a state of considerable flux in light of climatic changes which are opening up fishing and other economic development possibilities in the region.

In their initial presentations, each speaker will introduce the specific treaty regime in question and then expound upon two questions. First, what are the implications for the particular environmental regime of the trends toward multipolarity? Second, what are--or should be--the roles of states as compared to other actors and levels of governance in the development, implementation, and effectiveness of the regime? The collective focus on these two questions should not obscure other important matters, including the relationship between science and treaty-making and the role of codes of conduct regarding corporate social responsibility. What is, moreover, the role of non-parties in the success of environmental regimes? Finally, what might environmental regimes stand to learn from governance regimes in other areas of international law such as, for example, foreign investment, intellectual property, human rights, and accountability for international crimes?

* Class of 1975 Alumni Professor and Director, Transnational Law Institute, Washington and Lee University, School of Law.


By Katharina Kummer Peiry *


The Basel Convention, adopted in 1989 and in force since 1992, is the sole global treaty on waste management. Negotiated in response to scandals involving illicit exports from developed to developing countries in the 1980s, its objective is to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of the generation and management of hazardous and other wastes. The Convention establishes a control system for transboundary waste movement, which is based on the requirement of prior informed consent (PIC) to every intended movement, by the prospective states of import and transit, as a prerequisite to the movement being initiated. It also imposes a general obligation on parties to ensure environmentally sound management of all hazardous and other wastes wherever they are located, and obliges parties to combat illegal traffic and to reimport or otherwise dispose of illegally exported wastes. …

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