Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Role of International Law in Preserving the Environment Essay

The Role of International Law in Preserving the Environment - Essay Example On the one hand, intuition and logic demands that an international or regional response is in many contexts a practical necessity. The nations of the world routinely confront challenges that are global or regional in scope—challenges in areas as diverse as environmental change, communications technology, and regional security. These challenges demand a more coordinated and concerted approach than any single, national solution can provide. Should criminals launch from a server twenty feet into a neighboring sovereign state, it would be foolhardy to believe that the country whose citizens were targeted by such criminals could effectively investigate and prosecute the criminal agents. Should refugees flood into a region because of instability in one-state, the stability, welfare mechanisms, and infrastructure of all affected regional states are challenged by the sudden flux in displaced persons. It would be ignorant to assume that the actions of one state are not directly affecte d by the actions of other states. So it is with the environment. Should carbon dioxide spill out of factories run by Western businesses and make their way into the stratosphere, the areas affected by the resulting greenhouse effect won't be limited to the areas where those factories were built. Should toxic waste be dumped into a river that in turn feeds a lake or an ocean, the water will carry that waste to shores far removed from the polluters. One nation can do little to change the world, when their neighbors or their peers remain unconcerned about their own contributions. On the other hand, these same nations exist as legal entities thanks to a juridical system inherited from a time when legal purviews were far more provincial. As such, the legal regimes in place within each nation-state tend to privilege the sovereignty of that state, which is to say that they accord that state near-absolute control over the legal decisions that occur within their borders. The boundaries of jur isdiction are thus by default the dividing lines between different models or standards for jurisprudence, and should a nation will itself immune to the pressures or legal regimes in other countries, it can do so. Problematically, the incentive to do just that correlates positively with the relative power-status of the country in question. Weaker, smaller, less developed countries may feel that external legal pressures that might compromise national sovereignty are nonetheless in their best interest, since they do not wish to alienate the great military or economic powers, especially if they rely on those power for financial or military assistance, or for regular trade. The more powerful countries, by contrast, have every incentive to view their own sovereignty as inviolate, a reflection of their global standing. These countries also tend to be more effective in resolving problems within their own borders, and as such may feel like their approach to larger-scale problems should be ad opted by less-powerful nations, rather than engaging in cooperative solutions that would compromise their own sovereignty alongside those of other state participants. Sadly, this scenario is precisely what has unfolded with many of our international institutions. The United Nations, for example, gives a select group of countries, the United States chief among them, de facto veto power over the will of the General Assembly. Perhaps most exemplary of this tendency is

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