Linkages at International, National and Local Levels
- The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Frank Maes, An Cliquet, Willemien du Plessis and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 6: The clustering of multilateral environmental agreements: Can the clustering of the chemicals-related conventions be applied to the biodiversity and climate change conventions?
International environmental law and policy have developed in a way that can best be described as piecemeal and disaster-driven. The ensuing international environmental governance (IEG) system is consisting of legally ‘autonomous’ yet thematically kindred multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). All of these environmental conventions have created their own institutional arrangements, approaches and rationales. In addition, all of these MEAs have unparallel membership. Since no international policy-making institution for the environment is competent to guide these treaty-making processes in a coordinated manner, this situation poses specific challenges to the various legal regimes in international environmental law. The proliferation of MEAs gathered momentum after the 1972 Stockholm Conference, with a redoubled effort after the 1992 Rio Conference (UNCED). The number of MEAs in existence is huge and continues to increase: according to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates, more than 500 MEAs are in force today; more than 60 per cent of these treaties were adopted after 1972. The multitude of MEAs also means an enormous and ever increasing number of meetings of the respective Conferences of the Parties (COPs) of the MEAs, their subsidiary bodies, technical and scientific committees and countless ad hoc working groups. There are thus ever more MEAs with more subsidiary bodies that are meeting more regularly.5 This has been considered to be symptomatic for a fragmented system. It has also been noted that most developing nations and the smaller developed nations are facing increasing difficulties to keep participating in all of these meetings.
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