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In: International watercourses: enhancing cooperation and managing conflict. Proceedings of a World Bank seminar, edited by Salman M.A. Salman, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes. Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1998. 103-25. (World Bank Technical Paper No. 414)This technical report chapter discusses the legal dispute about international watercourses (IWs) that was resolved in the International Court of Justice: the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Case. The September 1997 judgment between Hungary and Slovakia appears in the appendix. The case concerns a dispute over construction of two dams on the Danube River in shared water. A 1977 bilateral treaty authorized construction of two dams and joint operation. During construction, political pressure mounted in Hungary over environmental concerns until 1989, when Hungary suspended work. Czechoslovakia proceeded to build a single dam that would divert 80% of the shared water. In 1992, Hungary ended the 1977 treaty. The Court found that Hungary was not entitled to suspend work or end the 1977 treaty. It ruled that Slovakia was not entitled to operate from a 1992 unilateral solution to divert the water. The Court urged mutual cooperation and agreement and suggested the joint operation of one dam, but not at peak power. The 1977 treaty included protections of water quality and nature. This case indicated that states can invoke "ecological necessity" actions, but there must be proven "real, grave and imminent peril." The decision was based on the assumption of a common legal right, equality of all riparian states as users of the whole IW, and directly, on the law of IWs. It referred to a global convention about sustainable use of the Danube. The Court argued that States must consider new activities, such as sustainable development, even in long-term projects. This case gives prominence to environmental concerns within public international law.
UN / ECE strategies for protecting the environment with respect to international watercourses: the Helsinki and Espoo conventions.
In: International watercourses: enhancing cooperation and managing conflict. Proceedings of a World Bank seminar, edited by Salman M.A. Salman, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes. Washington, D.C., World Bank, 1998. 47-64. (World Bank Technical Paper No. 414)This technical report chapter provides an overview of environmental strategies for international watercourses by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE). A specific focus is on the Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses (TWs) and International Lakes and the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a TW Context. These two Conventions provide a framework for promoting conflict prevention and settlement of disputes in TW environmental issues. Conflict prevention is based on obligation of parties to cooperate, consultation mechanisms, transboundary notification, exchange of information and technology, informing and gaining participation of the public, bilateral and multilateral cooperation and agreements, mutual assistance, and joint assessment and monitoring. The Conventions allow for the settlement of disputes. There are seven main elements in arbitration: notification of the secretariat, a 3-member arbitration panel with a selection of one by each party, adherence to international law, majority rule, equitable payment of judicial expenses by parties, a 5-month arbitration period, and justification of the tribunal decision. Europe and North America have about 150 bilateral and multilateral agreements on the protection and use of TWs. Successful environmental protection of TWs depends on a common will to solve problems, confidence in parties to act, partnerships, agreement on long- and short-term goals, flexibility in addressing new problems, and delegation of authority to joint bodies. The ECE was the first to establish ecosystem protection along TWs.
In: Change: threat or opportunity for human progress? Volume V. Ecological change: environment, development and poverty linkages, edited by Uner Kirdar. New York, New York, United Nations, 1992. 168-88.Man's envisaged economic conversion is integration of ecology and economy through reduction in resource input of production which results in a reduction of emissions and wastes that adversely affect the natural environment. Some industrial nations, the UN Environment Programme, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development already use environmental indicators of adverse effects of production (e.g., emission data). We know less about the environmental significance of input factors in industrial production and which indicators contribute environmentally significant information about the structure of the economy, however. Using data from 31 countries, not including the US, an economist demonstrates that delinking of energy, steel, and cement consumption and weight of freight transport from the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) results in environmental gratis effects (rate of usage of input factors having a negative impact on the environment stays lower than the growth rate of GDP). It appears that the trend in developed countries is industrial restructuring. The conventional environmental policy is react-and-cure strategies on air and water pollution, noise, and waste. This costly policy needs to be improved by comparing environmental expenditures with data on environmental damage, identifying problems before ecosystems are destroyed, and incorporating cost-effective preventive measures. Environmental impact assessments are a means to accelerate technical knowledge and public awareness. Environmental standard setting should be a continuous process. Economy as it now exists indicates disharmony with nature (i.e., natural raw materials are swapped for produced waste materials polluting the environment). We should incorporate the external effects of production within our conscious or subconscious guiding principles, return the costs to the economic units that cause the environmental problem, and include the ecological viewpoint into all investment and economic decision making. We have yet to adapt a throughput economy (systematic reduction of depletable resources and generation of pollution emissions and wastes through recycling and clean technology).