Evolving Issues of International Law and Policy
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh, Robert Beckman and Hao Duy Phan
Chapter 12: ‘Can’t we even share our maps?’: Cooperative and unilateral mechanisms to combat forest fires and transboundary ‘haze’ in Southeast Asia
This chapter assesses the transboundary smoke or ‘haze’ pollution problem in Southeast Asia arising from recurring forest and land fires in Indonesia. It analyses the problem from the perspectives of the 2002 ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and Singapore's recently-enacted Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014. The initial focus is on the ASEAN Agreement’s systemic weaknesses, as well as relevant political and socio-economic factors within Indonesia. These factors conspire to ensure that, even with Indonesian ratification of the Agreement, the problem will still not be effectively resolved. The chapter then analyses the promises and pitfalls of cooperative mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with the fires and haze problem. The main issue here is Indonesia's reluctance to share plantation concession maps that will conceivably enable perpetrators to be identified and then prosecuted. The chapter concludes by highlighting Singapore’s adoption of unilateral, extraterritorial legislation in the form of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act 2014 to deter companies from engaging in land and forest burnings.
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