Mepielan Ebulletin


  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 my distinguished colleagues and very promising young academics and researchers who have been instrumental in the success of this Bulletin, contributing fresh thinking, innovative ideas and insightful perspectives to the understanding of complex interdisciplinary issues of international law and policy, environment and development. This advanced knowledge is well disseminated and shared worldwide and the latest figures keep us realistically optimistic. The Bulletin’s website receives visitors from 159 countries worldwide which include academics, researchers, officials from public authorities, officials from intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, university students and private sector. Importantly, Bulletin’s articles and elaborated news are internationally quoted.

The Guest Article of this edition is authored by Peter M. Haas, Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Political Science, USA, who insightfully identifies the two distinctive features of international environmental governance, the multitude of actors and the range of distinct governance components collectively performed, and highlights the creativity impact of their effective interconnection, emphatically pointing to “the value of analyzing networks of non-state actors as determinants of collective action and environmental integrity.”   

Two Insight Articles, unveiling powerful law and policy arguments, also feature this edition:

Meinhard Doelle, Professor of Law and Director of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute (MELAW), Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada presents a profound and very topical analysis of liability for loss and damage in the UN Climate Regime which is expected to be part of the post 2020 UN Climate Regime. He meticulously explores the state of negotiations of loss and damage in the framework of the UN Convention on Climate Change and the importance of this issue in the current negotiation agenda as providing “the much needed motivation for all Parties to take mitigation and adaptation efforts more seriously”. And he perceptively analyzes the complex aspects of integrating liability for loss and damage into the climate regime as a complementary or alternative approach motivating effective and adequate action ranging from mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology transfer to capacity building. Indeed, the present “pattern of making the future generations pay for the lack of ambition today” should discontinue and a prospective development of a loss and liability mechanism provides the potential for an adequate solution.

Dr. Konstantinos Tsimonis, Senior Teaching Fellow, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK, who has productively spent five years in Beijing writing his Doctoral thesis and is fluent in Chinese, brings forward his deep knowledge and experience (his «βίος θεωρητικός») on social organization and governance in China.  Projecting a well-founded contextual theoretical approach, he discusses the rationale of “dual registration” system for all social organizations, requiring first obtain the professional sponsorship of a government (or Party) agency before they can apply for registration with the Civil Affairs Department, and its pending reform, taking the view that, overall,  the state-society relations in China cannot – and should not – be approached and explained on the basis of the western theoretical world-view and historical experience by applying such concepts as “civil society” and “corporatism”. Plunging into the historical experience of social organization in China and vividly presenting a contemporary case of success in Chinese civil organization, he demonstrates that the quest for autonomy for Chinese civil organizations will have to be sought in its fundamental understanding as a context-dependent notion, originating from a complex symbiotic state and society relation and the continuous negotiation process between them.

In the Critical Forum section, Theano Maneta, LL.M. (Cantab.) and Researcher at MEPIELAN Centre, Panteion University of Athens, writes a stimulating thought-provoking article on the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity, arguing that CBD has not managed to provide a comprehensive framework for the protection of biodiversity because of the poor and elusive drafting of identified substantive areas of the Convention, thus making its provisions “non-compliable”. Comparing it with the earlier sectorial sites or species specific treaties (1973 CITES, 1979 CMS, 1971 Ramsar Convention, 1972 WHC), she highlights pragmatic approaches of the latter and their more effective management system, and she concludes that these treaties are better suited to achieve effective biodiversity protection in the context of their specified objectives and in pursuance of their distinctive purposes.

In its Document section, this edition presents the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a celebrated new treaty regime of major importance, signed on 11 October 2013 by 91 countries and the EU at a Diplomatic Conference, after four years of intense but fruitful negotiations initiated by UNEP. Theano Maneta, in her introductory note, highlights the legal significance of the Convention while perceptively underlines the contingency of its effectiveness upon a fundamental international governance perspective: its integration into, and coordination with, the existing conventional regimes on hazardous waste and toxic substances.

Finally, together with the continuing flow of selected and elaborated topical thematic news, this edition also presents a new authoritative and interdisciplinary book “The Handbook of Global Climate and Environment Policy” edited by Robert Faulkner. The book perceptively combines the latest theoretical thinking and the currently debated issues on the subject, providing a comprehensive overview and fruitful insights for its readers. It discusses the current global climate and environment policy challenges, explores the concepts, approaches, frameworks and processes to govern them, and sheds light on the interconnections between global climate and environment policy, and that of the global economy.

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.

Outside my office, the chaotic Greek darkness leads me to conclude poetically:
“I feel that when people have gone utterly sunless they shouldn’t exist”
(D.H. Lawrence, Democracy, Pansies 1928)
                          The Editor

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