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  Editorial


  by Professor Evangelos Raftopoulos,
  Editor and Director of MEPIELAN Centre,
  Panteion University of Athens, Greece




Welcome to the new edition of MEPIELAN E-Bulletin.


I am grateful to all those who have been instrumental in the continuing success of this Bulletin in times of crisis. According to the latest figures, there have been over 12.500 visits to the Bulletin’s website from 151 countries worldwide.

The vision of the Bulletin to provide a dynamic scholarly forum for inter-disciplinary and innovative knowledge on international environmental law and policy with a view to protecting and advancing international common interest is also served by this edition. Distinguished academic experts and scholars as well as of promising young researchers contribute new ideas and enlightening presentations of current issues and problems of international law and policy, environment and development. Together with the continuing flow of topical thematic news, this edition presents a document  of particular interest, the Rio+20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability adopted by UNEP’s World Congress on June 2012 and presented at the Rio+20 Conference, where, interestingly enough, the Principle of Non-Regression (continuity for more effectiveness of environmental protection and sustainable development) is specifically acknowledged, a principle of fundamental importance for sustainability governance capable of effectively and efficiently addressing contemporary challenges and threats.

Serving as a showcase for new knowledge-advancing books, this edition also presents a new insightful and interdisciplinary book “Environmental Governance of the Great Seas – Law and Effect” by Joseph F.C. DiMento and Alexis Jaclyn Hickman. The authors, adopting a comprehensive and contextual approach to the environmental governance of the great seas, shedding light on the function and prospects of selected six regional seas (The Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the East Asian Seas, the Mediterranean Sea, the West and Central African Seas, and the Wider Caribbean Region) evaluating the effectiveness of their complex and multilevel environmental governance regimes conceptualized as clusters. Perhaps, the most pragmatic theoretical lesson to be drawn is embedded in their “a word on causation”: “Our conclusions about activity in a cluster and outcomes are qualitative and general. It is not possible in the complex environments we are analyzing to describe convincing causal links between individual law and policy initiatives and actual outcomes (whether they be cooperation or improvement of the physical condition of the seas). Many other forces are at work in response of both physical and social systems. And even if elaborate modeling could describe pathways in a convincing manner, data challenges would be enormous, if not overwhelming.”

A Guest Article written by Maguelonne Dejeant-Pons, Head of Division, Policy Development, Democratic Governance Directorate, Council of Europe, provides an authoritative presentation of  the rural heritage  as a factor and a driving force for sustainable spatial development, viewing it as a living heritage with all its tangible and intangible aspects highlighting the importance of assigning to it “heritage value” and of taking action under the European Rural Heritage Observation Guide –CEMAT and the participative approach it advocates. As she concludes, “the rural world is a treasure trove of the cultural, natural and landscape heritage … It is our responsibility to recognize the value of the past, and to protect and promote this heritage, which is an essential factor for economic, social and cultural development”.
 
Two Insight Articles also feature this edition:

José Juste-Ruiz, Professor of International Law, University of Valencia, Spain, after exploring the elements and present operational status of the IMO Conventional regime on Civil Liability Pollution Damage, perceptively underlines the inherent limitations of this conventional regime and authoritatively examines the creative response to these limitations by the EU and French courts. It is most interesting, in this context, that national courts become instrumental in an evolutionary trend of an international conventional regime enhancing the effective protection of the marine environment and the equitable reparation of damages suffered by victims of oil tanker accidents, and thus giving effect to the legislative purpose of the relevant IMO Conventions and UNCLOS in applying national legislation.    

Maria Gavouneli, Assistant Professor of International Law, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, insightfully discusses the new EU draft legislation on offshore installations as a first major comprehensive regime with the most extensive binding international regulation on the offshore industry, particularly highlighting the importance of exploring its contextual inter-linkages, existing EU acquis and related international regimes, from the perspective of their capacity to converge and generate synergies reinforcing the proposed legislation. In this frame, she perceptively pinpoints some areas of concern regarding certain cardinal regulatory elements related to all aspects of the spectrum of offshore operations.

Finally, a Critical Forum Article by Maria Papaioannou, a Ph.D Candidate and Researcher Chair UNESCO “Human Rights, Democracy and Peace”, Panteion University, usefully provides a critical assessment of the World Heritage Convention, underlining its special feature as an autonomous institutional treaty regime governing the protection of world natural and cultural heritage while highlighting certain participatory and conceptual problems related to it as well as its deficiencies demonstrated in specific emergency cases.  

MEPIELAN E-Bulletin is a dynamic electronic newsletter of MEPIELAN Centre, Panteion University of Athens, Greece.  It features guest articles, insights articles, critical forum textual contributions and reflections, specially selected documents and cases, book reviews as well as news on thematic topics of direct interest of MEPIELAN Centre, presented in a clear, insightful and attractive way whilst shedding light on topical issues of environmental law, governance and policy significance. Content bridges theory and practice perspectives of international law, international environmental law, sustainable development, and international negotiating process, and includes notifications of MEPIELAN cooperation updates and news. The Bulletin is an addition to our communication instruments which include an edited Series, the MEPIELAN Studies in International Environmental Law and Negotiation.

It is hoped that its content will contribute to a scholarly debate on important issues of current interest, providing an independent, open access forum for the promotion of innovative ideas and enlightened critical views of distinguished authors. The Bulletin further aims at offering a knowledge- and information-sharing platform for MEPIELAN audience, striving to serve a modern thinking and questing community, in the hope that it will stimulate constructive discussions on the issues presented.  The audience includes academics, researchers, university students, international lawyers, officials and personnel of international organizations and institutional arrangements, heads and personnel of national authorities and administration at all levels (national, regional and local), members of Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as the relevant private sector.

Once again, I wish to express my deepest appreciation to all the contributors to this edition and to our faithful worldwide audience sharing with us the progressive ideas, knowledge and message of this Bulletin.

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