Rethinking the Ecology--Sovereignty Debate
How do mounting international pressures for environmental protection affect state sovereignty? Does it even make sense to speak of sovereignty in a world marked by tight ecological interdependence, massive transboundary pollutant flows and severe threats to key global environmental services? How will the evolving roles, rules and understandings that have institutionalised sovereignty adapt to these new ecological realities?
These questions are of particular concern in the South, where the full range of rights and opportunities promised by sovereignty have rarely been realised to the extent enjoyed in the industrialised world. When Third World governments have voiced resistance to the institutionalisation of new standards of environmental behaviour, they have often done so on the grounds that such rules violate their sovereignty. 1
In this paper I present a critique of prevailing perspectives on the sovereigntyecology link. Though the focus is not exclusively on the Third World, the critique illustrates the limited utility of prevailing formulations in a Third World context. I also point the way toward some elements of an alternative conceptualisation, and illustrate these propositions with a brief discussion of the case of the Brazilian Amazon.____________________