Joint Department of Politics / School of Law Research Seminar

Dr Antonio Cardesa-Salzmann - "Transnational Environmental Crime and the Resilience of International Law: Shaping Illegality in Multilateral Environmental Agreements"

A series of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), such as the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), follow policies and regulatory approaches that foresee restrictions on and supervision of international trade and/or transboundary movements of controlled commodities. These are crucial to fulfil the regimes’ underlying objectives of environmental protection. Unfortunately, however, the inevitable corollary of such regulatory measures are transboundary black markets that pose a serious threat to these regimes’ effectiveness and, thus, to international environmental law. This paper appraises the distinctive ways in which a sample of key MEAs involved in the fight against transnational environmental crime – the Montreal Protocol, the Basel Convention and CITES – are addressing issues of illegality and criminality. It evaluates how these have acquired salience on the global and/or crime and criminal justice agenda in each one of these regimes.

Photo: Research workshopThe paper argues that – somewhat counter-intuitively – the scattered institutional framework of global environmental governance and within it, the intrinsic autonomy and flexibility of the institutional arrangements of MEAs, may be seen as paramount to the problem-solving capacity of resilient systems. Indeed, the United Nations system, in which most of the MEAs’ autonomous institutional arrangements are integrated in one way or another, has a somewhat complicated and confusing track record of administrative coordination, especially in the field of environmental governance. Nevertheless, precisely the loose and decentralised network of the MEAs’ autonomous institutional arrangements has been persistently praised as allowing for bespoke responses and, where necessary, for regional or thematic clustering of treaties and institutions.

The paper concludes, however, that much of the implicit institutional and normative flexibility bears the risk of putting the process’ transparency and legitimacy at jeopardy. A careful balance, as well as ways for constant feedback among cognitive and normative processes, seems therefore desirable for the resilience of international law in times of crises.

Biography - Dr Antonio Cardesa-Salzmann

Dr Cardesa-Salzmann is a visiting scholar in the Department of Politics.

Key Details

Where: Room EG13, Bartolome House, Winter Street, Sheffield S3 7ND.
When: 5-6 PM, Wednesday 1st June 2016.

Hosted by the Department of Politics and the School of Law.

All welcome to attend.


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