CYIL vol. 11 (2020)

CYIL 11 (2020) THE NEW TREND OF INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW … Rio 92, on the other hand, gave way to a higher level of international agreements – the effectiveness of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a permanent forum for the discussion, monitoring and presentation of solutions to problems related to notorious climate changes which took place in the decades prior to the Conference. It may be boldly submitted that a series of new perspectives came with the promulgation of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, mainly ‘invigorating the trend towards diversification and pluralism’ 30 and highlighting three key dimensions: the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities; sustainable development; inter-generational equity (Brundtland Report); the massive participation of 1,400 non-governmental organizations registered as observers and more than 8,000 concerned individuals who were present at the world summit, parallel to the conference. 31 A change in values and in the mindset is essentially identifiable since that moment, mainly if one can regress from the current place to those remote agreements with an environmental background reached in the last century. What characterizes the present state of international environmental law is the profusion of multilateral and regional agreements, General Assembly specific resolutions on the environment, the success of specialized agencies and the increase in importance of new actors such as non-governmental organizations. This whole framework, together with an already identifiable structure, has contributed to the emergence of a system of environmental treaties and to collective decision-making. One of the hypotheses for system expansion is, doubtlessly, the ecological interdependence that inevitably connects sovereign states worldwide, but also at the regional and local levels. Rüdiger Wolfrum argues that ecological interdependence is one of the main causes of conflict in international environmental law, but if one adds the normative interdependence of environmental agreements to it, then it becomes the main cause, since ‘environmental law is prone to conflicts.’ 32 Environmental problems of common interest have been gradually identified and inserted in the international agenda in order to seek solutions to situations that were already aggravated by protection deficiency. In response, agreements on climate change entered the stage, UNFCCC itself, as well as agreements on the protection of the ozone layer, 33 and to combat desertification, 34 to mention some. Paradoxically, the unfortunate dynamism of sensitive environmental issues and global harm gives way to the constant increase in international environmental policies. As obvious as it may be, the development of international environmental law only happened when states realized pollution knows neither customs nor borders. Deforestation, resource exploitation and cross-border pollution are not acquainted with geopolitical 30 SAND, Peter H., ‘The Evolution of International Environmental Law’, in BODANSKY, Daniel, BRUNNÉE Jutta and HEY, Ellen (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (Oxford University Press 2010) 40. 31 Ibid 40. 32 WOLFRUM, Rüdiger and MATZ, Nele, Conflicts in International Environmental Law (Springer 2003) 4. 33 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (adopted 22 March 1985, entered into force 22 September 1988) 1513 UNTS 293, and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (adopted 16 September 1987, entered into force 1 January 1989) 1522 UNTS 3. 34 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/ or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (adopted 14 October 1994, entered into force 26 December 1996) 1954 UNTS 3.


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