6 Publicist 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/public6 and id is 1 raw text is: Evolving Responsibility?
The Principle of Common but Differentiated
Responsibility in the UNFCCC
Douglas Bushey, U.C. BerkeleyI
Sikina Jinnah, American University2
At their core, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC) negotiations can be understood as a series of attempts to
operationalize the international legal principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities.3 The negotiations make clear that a global agreement to
address the problem of climate change must necessarily apportion responsibility
to act among diverse parties. The principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities (CDR) has guided the process of apportionment within the
UNFCCC since its inception in 1992.4 Although the principle has never been
susceptible to precise definition, CDR has found expression within the climate
change regime through a series of agreements in which parties have divided
themselves into different groups in order to take on different responsibilities to
act. This shifting landscape of responsibility demonstrates that the principle of
CDR has evolved over time. As a result, it has taken on different meanings at
different stages in the life of the negotiations.
The goal of this Article is to analyze the results of the Copenhagen
negotiations with a focus on the shifts in meaning and interpretation of the
principle of CDR that occurred there. We argue that, although the Copenhagen
negotiations failed to produce a legally binding agreement, the parties involved
1. Ph.D. Candidate Energy and Resources Group. U.C. Berkeley (2011) and J.D.
Candidate Berkeley Law (2012).
2. Assistant Professor of International Relations. American University.
3. The principle, enshrined within the UNFCCC, was explicitly formulated in the
1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development:
In view of the different contributions to global environmental
degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities.
The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they
bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view
of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of
the technologies and financial resources they command.
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, June 3-14, 1992. Rio
Declaration on Environment and Development, Principle 7, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 151/26
(Aug. 12. 1992): see United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
chapeau, arts. 3.1. 4.1, May 9. 1992. S. Treaty Doc. No. 102-38, 1771 U.N.T.S. 107
(hereinafter UNFCCC).
4. See UNFCCC, chapeau, arts. 3.1, 4.1.
5. See Christopher D. Stone, Common but Differentiated Responsibilities in
International Law, 98 AM. J. INT'L L. 276 (2004).

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