Environmental health

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International environmental instruments: a guide for effective national environmental policies
Environmental policy and regulation

Ekaterina Porras Sivolobova 51210604 Environmental Health

Introduction Environmental policies seek to provide a framework and guidance needed to consider the environment as a fundamental part of a state’s political, economical and social agenda. The generalobjective of a proposed policy is to ensure a balance between environmental concerns, exploitation of natural resources, investment and technology development and the requirement to satisfy human needs and reach its potentials. Effective environmental policies must promote economic growth and environmental protection, these must mutually support each other. International environmental legislation isan essential component of effective national policy planning and implementation. International environmental principles, guidelines and treaties, in theory, help set demands, impose duties and limits, creates state’s obligations and contribute, among other things, with a framework on how to shape environmental policies that regulate human activities. International environmental instruments providethe legal basis for an effective national environmental policy. International environmental instruments - background Although the environment has come to be regarded as a common property and a cultural heritage1, no specific state obligations to protect the environment have been created in international law, but rather only general legal principles and general international guidelines haveevolved. In the following paragraphs, I shall consider these general legal principles and these general guidelines drafted in international documents as the guiding principles for the state’s environmental policies and regulations. I will also emphasize the new evolving trend of protection of the environment through human rights law where a healthy environment is regarded as a basic human right and thusenforcing the states to comply with environmental and human rights. According to the 1993 Council of Europe Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment, environment includes ‘natural resources both abiotic and biotic, such as air, water, soil, fauna and flora and the interaction between the same factors; property which forms part of the culturalheritage; and the characteristic aspects of the landscape’ (art. 2(10)).

1

Council of Europe Convention on Civil Liability for Damage Resulting from Activities Dangerous to the Environment. 1993. Article 2 (10)

The need to create a framework of environmental policies and regulations which would include environmental objectives and targets was not present until the late 1960s. Accordingto Antonio Cassese, the necessity to protect the environment was not present for three reasons 2: first, there was no extensive damage due to industrial developments; second, States were still under the traditional view of their relations to other states as sovereign entities - each state dealing with their own resources and not interfering with others states management of the environment - and;third, civil society was not yet totally aware of the consequences and potential dangers of industrial activities. However, recent times and fast developing factors, such as the growth of nuclear plants, increasing deforestation and the high emissions of greenhouse gases, have brought rapid changes into the importance of protecting the environment and how it is being approached. New principles,rules, guidelines and monitoring mechanisms at an international level have been created to prevent further damages and at the same time create these obligations as international community obligations where states are needed to comply. Nevertheless, this obligations have been often weighted against the economic and social costs involved and the necessity to develop, especially for developing states....
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