Mepielan Ebulletin


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

It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you to this year’s first edition of MEPIELAN E-Bulletin and to share with you its insightful, thought-provoking contributions and informative material, all providing different aspects and perspectives of building international common interest in pursuance of the objectives of MEPIELAN Centre.

I am also delighted to inform you that MEPIELAN Centre was accredited as MAP Partner by decision of the 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols, held in Istanbul (3-6 December 2013). This is an exciting development which makes MEPIELAN Centre privileged and committed to be actively involved in constructive dialogue and consultations with MAP and the Mediterranean States Parties to the Barcelona Convention System and in addressing key issues of its work and its implementation. And, naturally, this new role will be adequately reflected in contributions and relevant information through the pages of this Bulletin.

So far, the progress of the Bulletin continues. The Bulletin’s website consistently increases its worldwide attendance and visibility: it receives visitors from 163 countries and its audience includes academics, researchers, officials from public authorities, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, university students and private sector. And its scientific dynamic is most encouraging: Bulletin’s articles and elaborated news are internationally quoted and authorizations are granted for their publications in other international websites.

In this edition, the Guest Article is co-authored by Joseph F.C. DiMento, Professor of Law and Planning at the University of California Irvine, USA, and Hermanni Backer, Professional Secretary of the Helsinki Commission, who authoritatively discuss the complex aspects of environmental governance of the Arctic. Underlining its special regional characteristics and the variety of threats and pressures on its fragile natural environment and its native human inhabitants, they provide a well-balanced and insightful approach to the Arctic environmental governance: the existing multi-level governance system of the Arctic regime should become more effective by critically examining the developments in other regions and giving more consideration to the value of certain ideas improving environmental governance – it is within this context, they argue, that any “addition” of new international law could be meaningfully decided.

Two Insight Articles also feature this edition:

Davor Vidas, Research Professor, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway, provides a perceptive analysis of the involvement of the International Law Association in the systematic study of international law and sea-level rise, considered as an increasingly important issue-area associated not only with the law of the sea but also with several parts of international law including issues of statehood and nationality, governance of resources, human rights, refugee law, and even issues of international peace and security. Being appointed to the Chair of the new ILA Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise, he authoritatively discusses the scientific background and reasons for the establishment of this Committee, highlighting the interdisciplinarity of key perspectives of sea-level rise and the cluster of related imminent issues of international law which may lead to a re-examination of core aspects of international law.  

Theano Maneta, LL.M. (Cantab.) and Researcher at MEPIELAN Centre, Panteion University of Athens writes a stimulating thought-provoking article shedding light on the contextuality in approaching two important global conventional environmental regimes, the Ozone Layer Regime and the Climate Change Regime, and on the inadequacy of making simple positivistic legal comparisons between them. As she points out, the “success” in the effectiveness of conventional environmental regimes cannot be “objectively” measured because it is “open-ended”. The case of these two conventional regimes, in the light of certain legal criteria and factors (compliance/effectiveness, causation/correlation, operational time, legal drafting or differentiations in the impacts of interconnections and science-policy interface) clearly demonstrates that any attempt to make mere legal comparisons between them is entirely misleading: they are context-dependent and their effectiveness/success is “incommensurable” by using simplifying criteria of legal positivism.       

In the Cases & Documents section, this edition presents the “Written Statement of IUCN, World Commission on Environmental Law/Specialist Group on Oceans, Coasts and Coral Reefs” submitted to ITLOS in Case No 21 “Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission”, on 13 November 2013. Nilufer Oral, Co-chair of this IUCN Specialist Group and a member of the Law Faculty of the Istanbul Bilgi University, usefully provides, in her introductory note, a presentation of the IUCN/WCEL, as well as an overview of the content of the Statement underlining the importance of the ITLOS invitation to IUCN/WCEL to submit a legal statement.

Finally, together with the continuing flow of selected and elaborated topical thematic news, this edition presents two new authoritative and interdisciplinary books which inaugurate the Routledge Research in Global Environmental Governance series, a new academic series that aims high: at delivering cutting-edge research on the most vibrant themes of global environmental governance. The first book Improving Global Environmental Governance - Best Practices for Architecture and Agency, edited by Norichika Kanie, Steinar Andresen & Peter M. Haas, explores “the existing Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the broader constellation of partially networked institutions to better understand the involvement of individual actors and how to deepen the networks that include them to generate more effective governance”. The second book Global Governance of Genetic Resources - Access and Benefit Sharing after the Nagoya Protocol, edited by Sebastian Oberthür & G. Kristin Rosendal, analyzes the status and prospects of the global governance of Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) in the aftermath of 2010’s Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), providing an accessible account of a technically complex aspect of international environmental governance.

I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to my distinguished colleagues and promising young researchers who have been instrumental in making possible this edition of the Bulletin, contributing fresh thinking, innovative ideas and insightful perspectives to the understanding of complex interdisciplinary issues of international law and policy, environment and development.

The Editor

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 and on the cooperative activities and role of MEPIELAN Centre. Its content bridges theory and practice perspectives of international law, international environmental law, sustainable development, and international negotiating process, thus serving the primary goal of Centre: to develop an integrated, inter-disciplinary, context-related and sustainably effective governance approach creating, protecting and advancing international common interest in the fields above. Providing a knowledge- and information-sharing platform and a scholarly forum for the promotion of innovative ideas and enlightened critical views, the Bulletin aims at contributing to a broader scholarly debate on, and to a more stimulating learning process of, important issues of international common interest. The audience of the Bulletin includes academics, researchers, university students, international lawyers, officials and personnel of international organizations and institutional arrangements, heads and personnel of national authorities at all levels (national, regional and local), and members of the civil society at large.

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