Create the International Court for the Environment

Eric Swain
Eric Swain 3 Comments
104 SignaturesGoal: 100

Support us in creating The International Court for the Environment! The Problem: The lack of necessary accountability Over the past 40 years the scientific community has produced more and more compelling evidence in support of a consensus that we are inflicting devastating damage on the natural environment and our actions are causing a man-made destabilization of our climate. Scientists are telling us we need laws that change our behaviour before our behaviour irreversibly changes our planet. However, the existing institutions haven't been able to bring necessary accountability, by way of the rule of law, to the international system. The question we all ask ourselves is: Why? The need for trust - All States are economic actors that may find it difficult to protect the global environment at the expense of their own economy. The lack of compliance and enforcement in the international system makes it difficult for States to trust that their competitors won't attempt to retreat from non-binding pledges. The need for a clearer understanding of scientific evidence - There is no international court which offers a specialized environmental chamber with judges knowledgeable on matters of environmental policy supported by independent scientific advisors. The need for access to justice - Currently, only States are allowed to bring cases before the existing International Court of Justice. For too long this has prevented non-state actors from bringing cases to address international environmental degradation. The need for an integrated system - The global environmental governance regime is a collection of different organizations and Multilateral Environmental Agreement secretariats who work together to create as cohesive a system as possible. The current state of the environment and the continued advance of climate change suggests that institutional innovations are required to improve the efficacy of the international environmental order. The Solution: Increase accountability In order to facilitate increased accountability in the current system, institutional reform is required. We need to integrate the fragmented environmental governance regime and provide an enforcement mechanism that holds both States and non-state actors to account. The International Court for the Environment will: Build trust - If you can create a compelling model for compliance and enforcement then you will be better able to encourage States to buy into environmental protection standards as they are assured that States and non-State actors will be held to account. Be responsive to scientific evidence - It is crucial that the court which hears environmental cases have judges that fully understand the science behind the case before them, as their decisions will inevitably influence future State practice and the development of customary international law. Provide access to justice - Non-state actors must have the ability to bring cases against States and other non-state actors. This will ensure that individuals are able to bring attention to environmental degradation that their own national governments have been unable or unwilling to address. Strengthen the system - The increasingly supported World Environment Organization proposal could provide a centralized hub for compliance and monitoring, and clearer coordination between all of the separate MEA secretariats and international organizations. The International Court for the Environment would provide an ideal specialized dispute resolution/ enforcement mechanism for such an organization. We need greater accountability in the international environmental order. We need the International Court for the Environment