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International Environmental Conventions
Need for international environmetnal conventions
One of the principal ways of promoting recognition of global and regional the environmental crises as well a consensus on ways and means of addressing them, has been the emergence of a body of international law called environmental law. This has taken the form of evolution, within a relatively short time-span, of international norms of conduct - principles and rules - directed at halting the degradation of the environment and the conservation of national resources, as well as the negotiation, adoption and participation in quite a large number of international legal instruments. These instruments belong to two categories: Conventions, Agreements and Protocols- generally called "hard law" and other less formal legal instruments referred to as " soft law"
Various conventions in the past
The several global and regional conventions, agreements and protocols developed during the last quarter of a century such as the Ozone, Basel, CITES, CMS, and the European Convention on Transboundary Air Pollution and the like are examples of hard law, while the Staockholm and Rio Declarations and several instruments dealing with the management of chemicals, such as the London Guidelines, are good examples of soft law..
Common concern of mankind
Several of these legal instruments are based on the realization that environmental protection alone is not sufficient; that it must be seen within the overall context of the many socioeconomic and developmental issues that challenge the nations of the world. The Ozone Convention and Montreal Protocol heralded a new realization in regard to global interdependence on environment and development and their inter linkages. This resulted in the development of several new concepts which are at the vanguard of the progressive development of international environmental law: the common concern of mankind, common but differentiated responsibilities, transfer of financial and technological resources as conditions of compliance and so on. These have been further developed in the subsequent international conventions in particular, . the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions.
Role of internatioanl conventions for sustainable development
Though no definition of sustainable development is yet available, everyone understands what the concept holds out. As the Brundtland Commission Report pointed out - it is " development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". International environmental law pioneers in introducing innovative means and mechanisms for promoting the realization of the goals of sustainable development. Contemporary environmental regimes are not only setting ambitious goals but also provide supportive means of their achievement through, for example, financial mechanisms and resources and technology transfer. Further, these legal instruments aim primarily at prevention rather than resolution of conflicts. More attention is also given to institutionalizing practical and effective measures for the resolution of questions regarding the implementation of each convention through reporting and monitoring systems, and establishing multilateral consultative processes in particular through the Conferences of Parties.