Environmental impact assessments in areas beyond national jurisdiction
Un article consacré au cadre institutionnel et juridique régissant les évaluations d'impact environnemental dans les zones maritimes situées au-delà des juridictions nationales. Comment les discussions relatives à cet outil sont-elles menées dans le cadre de l'Assemblée générale des Nations unies ? Quels sont les manques du cadre existant qui justifieraient le développement d'un accord international sur le sujet ? Quelle(s) forme(s) pourrait prendre cet accord international ?
Points clés [en anglais] :
- GAPS IN THE CURRENT GLOBAL FRAMEWORK
Although a number of obligations to carry out environmental impact assessments in areas beyond national jurisdiction exist, the current global framework is far from being complete. It is mostly sector-based (deep-sea fisheries, seabed mining, ocean fertilisation) or region-specific (within the Antarctic Treaty System or to a lesser extent in a few number of regional seas conventions), and does not take into account cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment. General guidance on the subject has been adopted in 2012 by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, but is limited to technical aspects and is not legally binding.
- AN ISSUE DEBATED AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL
The United Nations General Assembly has been debating on the need for an implementing agreement to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Environmental impact assessments are considered as being one of the potential topics for inclusion in a future multilateral agreement.
- POSSIBLE WAYS FORWARD
The adoption of an international legally-binding instrument dealing inter alia or solely with environmental impact assessments in areas beyond national jurisdiction would already be a good step forward. However, its content will prove crucial to ensure the efficiency of any environmental impact assessment process in areas beyond national jurisdiction and to fill regulatory and governance gaps. Minimum requirements should therefore be defined, for example: including objectives or principles against which the outcome of any EIA will be tested, such as “zero-biodiversity loss”; defining a screening process, with appropriate thresholds; and providing for the creation of an advisory scientific and technical body and of a global compliance committee.