Sovereignty v/s Sustainability

Presented by: Sunny jindal NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad

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Contents

1.0 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................ 2 1.1 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: ................................................................................................ 3 1.2 NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY: ........................................................................................................ 3 2.0 SOVEREIGNTY VS. SUSTAINABILITY ...................................................................................... 4 2.1 LIMITATION ON USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: ................................................................ 5 2.2 GLOBAL COMMONS AND NATURAL RESOURCES: .............................................................. 6 2.3 DEVELOPED COUNTRIES VS. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: .................................................. 7 2.4 NEED FOR CHANGE IN STATE SOVEREIGNTY PULLED BY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: .................................................................................................................................. 8 2.5 SOVERIEGNTY WITH SUSTAINABILITY: ................................................................................ 8 3.0 CONCLUSION: ................................................................................................................................ 9 BIBLIOGRAPHY: ................................................................................................................................ 11

1.0 INTRODUCTION

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The basic object of entire ecosystem on earth is survival and reproduction whether human beings or animal species or trees. But is it all to reproduce or to give them life also. Today the situation of environment is getting worse and worse. Environmental degradation, global warming, scarcity of natural resources are evidently showing the signs concern. But who is responsible for this degradation? Whose responsibility is to improve this condition? Does it relates to individual nation states or is it a common concern for entire globe and what steps can be taken for leading the world to a sustainable development. In this paper we will try to give answer to these questions.

1.1 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:

We all human beings living in any city- state- nation- continent on earth have a right of life and this right is unanimously accepted by all the nation states in the world. But what about this right to life of those who are not present on this earth, who are still waiting for their entry into this world, don’t they need life? If we take into account all ecology in general and even with a selfish interest human beings in particular1, the basic need for the survival is a suitable and life friendly environment. So if we consume all resources today then what will be left for the future people? To understand this, most common hypothetical situation we can think of is that what would happen to us if our ancestors had consumed or had polluted entire water on the earth leaving behind nothing for us. Then it was not possible for us to survive. Water is only one thing; our concern is with all the resources. So if we want our future generation to grow and live a healthy life a proper management of consumption of natural resources is necessary and need of hour is to develop in a sustainable manner.

1.2 NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY:

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Gregory S. Kavka, “The Paradox of Future Individuals”, “Philosophy and Public Affairs” Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring, 1982), pp. 93-112, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2264924. October,5, 2010. the future generation is the future generation of the human kind talked in the general sense. But there is need to understand the importance of entire flora and fauna and whole of the ecology and efforts should not only constraint to protection of homosapien but the entire ecology.

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The general meaning of sovereignty is supremacy and independent authority over a territory and the meaning of national sovereignty as is traditionally and since long accepted by the public international law is the supremacy and independent authority of a nation over its territory without any restriction. And “it (international law) by default assume the right of a nation of freedom of control over its activities within its states jurisdiction”2 and each state being sovereign is not accountable to any other nation for the acts committed in their sovereign territory.

2.0 SOVEREIGNTY VS. SUSTAINABILITY

National sovereignty is the international status. This status imposes certain responsibilities upon the state to perform. If we look from other angel a state is nothing but the collaboration of its citizens and citizens give their sovereignty to state to perform certain duties which an individual cannot perform on his own. One such duty is to protect their lives. So tunning to sustainable mode of development is one of such duty of the state. So here question arises as to then how come this right and duty come in conflict with each other. Last two to three decades have witnessed the maximum climate changes and degradation than any other period in history. Along with this the scientific research in the field of environment has reviled many of the facts regarding fast speed of environmental degradation. This huge problem foreseen by the human attracted not only intra nation but also observed by the countries at an international level. Evidently the emergence of many international conferences on environmental protection proves this fact. But what was needed to take this environmental issue at an international stage? The environment does not recognise political boundaries3. A sovereign nation thinking itself to be independent because it has enough resources, if it exploits them in a ill manner, without any management even though that nation can justify itself by saying that they have ample resources and are growing sustainably in their territory and upon their resources, But the amount of pollution they are creating is not going to affect only upon that very country but

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Susan H Bragdon, “National Sovereignty and Global Environment Responsibility: Cn the Tension Be Reconciled for Conservation Of Bio Diversity”, http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/hilj33&div=18&g_sent=1&collection=journals. Octuber 5, 2010. 3 Ibid 2

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also the entire globe will be ill affected by this. Here it is not possible for other nations to prove the harm that other nation causing to them. In case of prove the only possible remedy which is available is the monitory compensation which in turn is of no use to the environment.

2.1 LIMITATION ON USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES:

Traditional emphasis of national sovereignty is not appropriate in a world where national decisions consistently have an international dimension. If national sovereign states want to coexist and effectively work in environmental responsibility there is need to change the existing concept of sovereignty. Nowhere else than environmental protection need the negotiation with the state sovereignty. The traditional practice is ill suited to handle the environmental responsibility. With the evolution of and understanding of global environmental interdependence new gates for negotiation for sovereignty have opened. The classic concept instead of taking us to the solution of the problem making the situation worse and is unable to meet the need for present environmental protection. Classic international law gives each nation right to develop. The right to develop predominately reflects the right of states to exploit their natural resources. But if this exploitation is affecting the neighbour country e.g. atmospheric pollution, depletion of ozone layer, global warming etc, and a principle of international law is attracted i.e. no country can act in such a manner that it affects the other country harmfully. This principle is encroaching upon the very basis of sovereignty, i.e. a restriction is being imposed by international law while exploitation of the natural resources of the country. Many scholars find this principle as the basic principle of the international law and a need for the sustainable development and on the other hand they advocate that these traditional principles such as bar on the states to perform actions knowingly that they are affecting the neighbour country are itself very narrow restrictions and are unable to meet the loss of global environmental depletion caused by transboundary actions. Every sovereign state has right to develop. And we already discussed that this development right extends to the right to exploit their sovereign natural resources. The principle laid down in Trail Smelter is a major qualification of the principle of exclusive sovereignty that extends to management of natural resources, but it is still of limited practical importance to the issue of sustainable resources use for two primary reasons. The principle
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recognises the provable environmental pollution and not the environmental violation. The pollution model can be adapted to sovereign resources but the limit of trail smelter principle makes it virtually ineffective. Second problem we already had discussed that if transboundary harm is proved than only effective remedy present is monitory compensation which does not address the underlying problem. This principle has only made the base of modern and emerging international law but there still need to implement greater restrictions upon the use of natural resources.4 The further steps taken in many international conferences starting from Stockholm declaration held in 1972. Principle 21 of the said declaration gave the right to the sovereign states to exploit their natural resources within their state territory following their environmental policy but subject to restriction that it would not harm the other nations. Though unanimously accepted but these principles don’t have binding force. The principles of national sovereignty always over rune the principles of international responsibility. Sovereignty claims allows nations to take excuse from international obligations by quoting absolute territorial rights to develop their natural rights. And rapid and exclusive exploitation is the right to develop.

2.2 GLOBAL COMMONS AND NATURAL RESOURCES:

This is one thing, secondly, nature while it was distributing the resources had not kept in its mind that there are political boundaries and gist is that each state is not awarded with equal number of resources and all kinds of resources, so how can a state be justified in using those resources if they are present in their territory as they desire to use them whereas the scarcity of resources is going to be faced by entire world. To understand this we must look on the recent controversy going on in brazil. The Amazon jungles which are almost one thierd of the entire of the brajil, according to scientists are acting as main part of respiratory system of the earth. i.e. lung. The rainforest of the South American Amazon is the world’s largest forestbased carbon sink, and it represents 33% of Earth’s surviving tropical rainforest. The

Amazon plays an unequivocally important role in global carbon sequestration, and Brazil, du
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Dan Tarlock, “ Exclusive Sovereignty Versus Sustainable Development Of a Shared Resource: The Dilemma of Latin American Rain Forest”, http://works.bepress.com/dan_tarlock/33/. Octuber 10, 2010.

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e to modern notions of territoriality, is the sovereign state responsible for the primary manage ment of the Amazon rainforest. Indeed, a total of 63.4% of the South American Amazon lies within the confines of Brazilian territory. Brazil, then, in many ways holds the key to global c arbon sequestration because it controls the territory on which sits a potential solution to mitigating the negative effects of global climate change. some experts estimate that just 10 million square kilometres of Amazon rainforest could sequester 100 150 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next century. Being so important it attracted attention of international organisation and a regime to put Amazon under control of international authorities stared. The state of brazil avoided this many a times on the context that it is in contrast with their state sovereignty. Though internationalisation of Amazon is in the interest of global sustainable development but it will be major compromise with the state sovereignty of Brazil.5 Not only Brazil it is the case with each state. We have already discussed that every state does not possess all the resources simultaneously. All are interdependent on each other. So these resources should be treated as global commons. But this concept is just opposite to the concept of sovereignty.

2.3 DEVELOPED COUNTRIES VS. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES:

The world is majorly divided into two basic categories i.e. developed and developing countries. Developed countries are countries who have achieved their growth point and developing countries are those which are fighting for their development and progressing towards that. The developed countries are showing more and more concern towards the environment protection and paying their stress towards the sustainable development. But this objective of the developed states cannot be achieved without putting restrictions upon the consumption of natural resources and management of all biodiversity.6 The idea is creating fear in the mind of the developing countries that this would take away them from their sovereign rights and will create a hindrance in their development. The

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Mannuel Nabais Da Furriela, “The Internationalisation Of Amazon”, “ICEL” “International And Comparative Environmental Law” Vol.1, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2000.
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David G Victor, “recovering sustainable development”, “Foreign Affairs” Vol. 85, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 2006), pp. 91-103, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20031845 octuber7, 2010.

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main contention is that developed countries had exploited the resources at their max and became developed but now putting restriction on developing countries is directly affecting their right to develop. But if we look on to present need there is a strong requirement of sustainable development, and for that reason the imposition of restrictions upon the states is nowhere unethical.

2.4 NEED FOR CHANGE IN STATE SOVEREIGNTY PULLED BY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:

The development at international level to save and secure our environment is running at a optimal pace. But the sovereign nations are not taking it that seriously which is required from them. Failure of Copenhagen earth summit is the recent example of this. Everybody is blaming everyone else for the failure of the Copenhagen climate conference, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown blames something entirely different: “the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship.” This idea for getting around governments and voters is shared by many European and some developing countries. Like there is regulations on trade and economic aspect on the member countries of WTO, there is need for a international body e.g. WEO i.e. world Environment Organisation. The WEO will take away the sovereignty of countries on the point of their use of natural resources and to manage the global commons. Here will be the maximum compromise by the states on their sovereignty.7

2.5 SOVERIEGNTY WITH SUSTAINABILITY:

States are best known institutions for the protection and development of their territories and subject i.e. their citizens as well as flora and fauna. A strong sovereign state can manage their natural resources in a better manner because it will act for its own. Protection will be its own self interest. The rising need of development can be met by the states along with their
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Caroline Boin, “National Sovereignty vs Green Order”, http://www.policynetwork.net/environment/media/national-sovereignty-vs-new-green-order. October 9, 2010

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sustainable development. The best suited example which can be given is of river Thames. In early years of industrialisation Thames was polluted by industries but state regulations upon the industries retrieved the position of river Thames. The states can impose restrictions upon their industries in a better and reasonable and non arbitrary manner. An international institution will not work in the same manner.8 The state autonomy is the most important status of a state at international platform. The states can solve the problems of transboundary pollution while sitting together and negotiating with each other. There is no need to deprive a state of its sovereignty if an alternative is available.

3.0 CONCLUSION:

The biological, chemical, and ecological systems of the Earth operate without paying heed to the artificial distinctions between nations that have arisen historically. The condition of the earth is in the hands of the all nations and the danger is only from some careless and reckless ones. But the system of states is cemented in the political system of the world. Then how can this problem of environmental pollution and unsustainable growth can be met. A strong centre sovereign autonomy of the states can be a best suited solution of this problem. But abridging the developing states from their sovereignty and right to develop will not be on accord with the natural justice. The sole and most important need of the day is to save the earth and develop in such a manner that the future generation not only human beings but also entire flora and fauna can be saved at its best, because one thing is sure that sovereignty of a state will be of no use if its authors9 will not be there. An international body like WTO for trade regulations can be solution for this. This body should have equality principle not in a rigid sense but in a scientific manner keeping in view the development of a nation and sustainability together at same footing. This can be done by making certain pre requisite for the states to comply with before its members.

Professor Michael Lakatos, “Sovereignty and Environmental Protection: Not Incompatible Values”, www.sindark.com/NonBlog/Articles/SovEnv.pdf - Canada. October 8, 2010.
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Authors here mean to the individual human beings. Because evidently state is nothing but delegation of power by the individuals of a territory to a collective body.

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The unorganised use of resources is result of the poverty of the inefficiency of the developing nations. Instead of taking away their sovereignty they should be provided with better financial and technical help collectively by the nations. The sovereignty of the state and sustainability of the globe should be taken in harmonious manner.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY:  Gregory S. Kavka, “The Paradox Of Future Individuals”, “Philosophy And Public Affairs” Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring, 1982), Pp. 93-112, Http://Www.Jstor.Org/Stable/2264924. October,5, 2010 Susan H Bragdon, “National Sovereignty And Global Environment Responsibility: Cn The Tension Be Reconciled For Conservation Of Bio Diversity”, Http://Heinonline.Org/HOL/Page?Handle=Hein.Journals/Hilj33&Div=18&G_Sent=1 &Collection=Journals. Octuber 5, 2010.

Dan Tarlock, “ Exclusive Sovereignty Versus Sustainable Development Of A Shared Resource: The Dilemma Of Latin American Rain Forest”, Http://Works.Bepress.Com/Dan_Tarlock/33/. Octuber 10, 2010 Caroline Boin, “National Sovereignty Vs Green Order”, Http://Www.Policynetwork.Net/Environment/Media/National-Sovereignty-Vs-NewGreen-Order. October 9, 2010

Professor Michael Lakatos, “Sovereignty And Environmental Protection: Not Incompatible Values”, Www.Sindark.Com/Nonblog/Articles/Sovenv.Pdf - Canada. October 8, 2010. QERIM QERIMI, “The Real Face Of The New World Order Sovereignty And International Security In The Age Of Globalization”. “Works.Bepress.Com/Context/Qerimqerimi/Article/1002/Type/.../Viewcontent/” Octuber 10,2010

Douglas A. Kysar, “Sustainable Development And Private Global Governance”, Www.Utexas.Edu/Law/Journals/Tlr/Assets/Archive/.../Kysar.Pdf - United States Octuber 10,2010 Mannuel Nabais Da Furriela, “The Internationalisation Of Amazon”, “ICEL” “International And Comparative Environmental Law” Vol.1, Issue 1, Fall/Winter 2000.

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