Environment vs. National Sovereignty Essay by johnnyoutsmart
Environment vs. National Sovereignty
The paper examines obstacles to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
# 59358 | 2,530 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2005 |
Published on Jun 17, 2005 in Environmental Studies (Design) , Environmental Studies (Economics and Policy) , Political Science (Non-U.S.)
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This paper argues that ,while environmental treaties are justified in their interference with issues traditionally related to state sovereignty, such interference allows nations to challenge environmental treaties. It explains that this was very clear in the case of the Convention on Climate Change when several nations, such as the United States and China, refused to abide by the treaty, and even more, did not follow its terms even after agreeing to them. The writer points out that one of the most noticeable factors here is that it is mainly the industrialized or developed nations that have the power and strength to openly defy these treaties, while the Third World countries cannot for the simply reason that financial aid is, to some degree, partly dependant upon their national environmental laws. In this sense, an imbalance develops whereby the developed world has the choice to either reject or accept those treaties, and the Third World largely does not. From an analysis of this imbalance, and after proving it with reference to a number of global environmental treaties, this paper argues that the only solution lies in the creation of an international body for global environmental governance in which nations, regardless of their economic and political status, are equally represented. The aim of such a body would be to ensure respect for environmental treaties, eliminate imbalance,s and respond to one basic truth: the environment is a shared space, and one nation's abuse of it affects the lives of all people across the world. Thus, state sovereignty is an irrelevant issue here, as no nation has sovereignty over the environment.
From the Paper:"The concept of national sovereignty has, since the emergence of nation-states, been regarded as sacred. At least, citizens and national governments have regarded their nation's sovereignty as sacred. That attitude was eventually transferred into law. Thereby, international law and treaties currently acknowledge and protect the principle of national sovereignty, conceding to a nation's rights to self determination and to resistance of external interventions in internal or national policies and decision making processes. However, while sovereignty is a popularly acknowledged and jealously protected political principle, sovereignty is not absolute and has its limitations. These limitations are defined by the interests of other nations and the collective welfare of all people and countries. Hence, no nation is absolutely sovereign and no government has the authority to act as it wishes within its national borders, arguing that it is protected by the principle of sovereignty. The simple fact of the matter is that in various international issues, most especially those relating to environmental policies, no country should have absolute sovereignty since, as emphasized by Robert Goodland and Herman Daly, the environment is not national but international or "universal" (1002-1003). Consequently, as relates to the environment, the concept of national sovereignty is a contentious issue."
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