6 Envtl. Pol'y & L. 1 (1980)

handle is hein.journals/envpola6 and id is 1 raw text is: 




LETTERS
TO THE EDITOR


   A  major step towards strengthening international cooperation was taken in
 Geneva in November by the signing of the Convention on Long-range Transbound-
 ary Air Pollution (see pages 2 and 37). This success in the East-West dialogue had
 already shown evidence of willingness on the part of those who had signed the Con-
 vention to undertake concrete action --for example, in the case of the United States
 and Canada - where both countries are, alternately, the source and victim of pol-
 lution.
   As a result of the situation in Afghanistan, the agreed cooperation between the
 US and the USSR in the environmental field has stopped abruptly, and everyday
 East-West collaboration would appear to be momentarily suspended. An interview
 with Douglas Costle, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency
 (EPA) scheduled for the next issue of the journal, discusses this development in
 greater detail. There are even rumours that as a sequel to the new international
 situation, negotiations for the Southern Oceans Convention will be under more
 strain.
   It is hoped that the next round of the Law of the Sea Conference will not be a
 victim of the present international state of affairs. Some delegations are optimistic
 that a Law of the Sea Treaty could be concluded this year, but others are doubtful
 in the light of the tough problems still to be resolved by the negotiations. Apart
 from the most difficult set of problems concerning deep sea mining, other stum-
 bling blocks would appear to be the principles applicable to defining the bound-
 aries in the economic zone and the continental shelf between countries that are
 side by side or opposite each other; the system for binding dispute settlement of
 boundary issues; and the aspect of coastal state jurisdiction over the continental
 shelf The Summer  issue of the journal will report on the next round of negotia-
 tions.
   Difficulties still exist between Member States of the European Community
regarding membership of the International Whaling Convention. The Community
as a whole way was ready to join, but the United Kingdom opposed, on the grounds
that it was not prepared to give still further competence on fishing to the Commu-
nity.
   The  UNEP  Group of Experts on Environmental Law has been meeting in Geneva
on  the subject of offshore mining and drilling, with special emphasis on safety and
contingency measures. The slow progress of the Group's work has been criticized
on many  occasions. This tempo is not only the result of the normal difficulties
between  different juridical systems but is due rather to difficulties in the organiza-
tional preparations. Papers which have been commissioned to form a basis for dis-
cussion, while perhaps compiled by good lawyers, do not bear the hallmark of
jurists repeatedly involved with the subject matter. As a result, the group itself has
to re-draft. Some basic rethinking on the preparation and organization of such
meetings will have to be undertaken, if satisfactory results are to be obtained within
a reasonable period of time. The Group also discussed which subjects should be the
object of its future work. From a long list of possible topics four were selected and
from these four one proposal was adopted on the improvement of remedies avail-
able on a national and international basis to the victims of pollution, taking into
account the concept of non-discrimination, to be submitted to the next UNEP
Governing Council for its approval. Although there was no opposition to this pro-
posal, no-one in the group was really satisfied with the programme.



   In the past, information has reached us just before going to press, which we
 would have liked to include but could not without holding back the publication
 date of the journal. Starting with this volume, we have decided to overcome this
 problem by leaving free four Post Deadlinepages up until the time of going to
 press to include such last minute items.                                  El
 Environmental Policy and Law, 6 (1980)


Dear Editors,
   I recently read the 1978 December
issue of your journal with great interest,
and hope it is not too late to make some
comments   on the 1978 Report of the
Council of Experts on Environmental
Protection Problems to the Federal Par-
liament.
   My  own  research with international
aspects of pollution control suggest that
the German  Experts have seriously sim-
plified the problems associated with de-
fining similar or common  norms for
water pollution control internationally.
By  doing this, they have not made their
challenge to the assumptions underlying
the European  Environment Programme
strong enough.
   The norms  or limits which have so
far been defined by the Commission -
and rarely accepted by the Council -
have been quality standards, i.e. values
which limit concentrations and not total
amounts  of pollutants which may enter
the receiving media, or which may be
contained in total wastes. Such stan-
dards, particularly if used for the con-
trol of persistant pollutants, raise serious
questions of international equity, which
could only be resolved through an Euro-
pean Environment Fund.  I am not aware
that the Federal Republic supports the
setting up of such a fund. Yet as the
situation is now, common norms favour
West Germany  commercially, at the ex-
pense of  its environment. Common
norms are nevertheless defended by the
Report  because, it is claimed they
could give rise to competitive distor-
tions and trade barriers. This is a most
unsatisfactory argument. Not only is it
difficult to substantiate the claim empir-
ically, it is also easily counterbalanced
by a similarly vague generalization about
the need for unequal standards in order
to adapt to different natural advantages.
Is an environmental protection policy
really justifiable in terms of trade rela-
tionships?
   Most significantly perhaps, a policy
of common  or even similar international
norms can have quite unreasonable poli-
tical effects domestically, i.e. inside cer-
tain states. Common norms  may lend
political support to domestic control
agencies which are already centralized,
               (Continued on page 48)
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