Toxics and Transnational Law: International and European Regulation of Toxic Substances as Legal Symbolism

As an environmental issue transcending national boundaries,the spread of toxic substances in the environment, with harmful consequences for ecosystems and human health has become the focus of transnational regulatory efforts in a variety of international fora. In order to address the problems created by transboundary toxic movements a set of binding as well as non-binding norms are being developed at the European and international level. This book analyses the development and effectiveness of transnational toxics law through two case studies: one dealing with the European regional regime for the control of toxic discharges in the aquatic environment and the other looking at the emerging global regime for the regulation of international trade in hazardous pesticides. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the legal and political framework in EU law for the reduction of inputs of hazardous substances in the marine and freshwater environment, and in regional agreements for the protection of the marine environment of the North Sea and Northeast Atlantic, Baltic Sea and Mediterranean. It also offers a critical account of the development of soft and hard law regulating exports of banned and severely restricted pesticides from industrialised to developing countries; from the resolutions of the United Nations Environment Programme and General Assembly in the late 1970s, to the signing of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure in 1998. The author shows that international normative efforts in these two fields have proved much more productive in establishing procedural obligations for states than in laying down actual substantive standards to govern their conduct, and argues that transnational environmental law may be valued by governments more for its symbolic, value-expressive function, than for any real problem-solving capacity.