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The Global Institutionalisation of Environmental Protection Measures by the United Nations

Hausarbeit 2017 16 Seiten

Sozialwissenschaften allgemein

Leseprobe

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Theoretical framework
2.1 The Icrease of Nation States’ Activities of Environmental Protection
2.2 The Sociological Concept of Norms
2.3 The Sociological Concept of Institutionalisation
2.4 The institutionalisation of global norms

3 The Role of the United Nations in the Global Institutionalisation of Environmetal Protection
3.1 The United Nations
3.2 Environmental Protection in the Charter of the United Nations
3.3 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
3.4 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
3.5 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
3.6 COP 21 and the Paris Agreement
3.7 United Nations Development Goals
3.7.1 Millennium Development Goals
3.7.2 Sustainable Development Goals
3.8 United Nations International Years

4 Conclusion and Outlook

5 Sources

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

Nowadays, protecting the natural environment and related issues, such as sustainable energies, electric cars or organic food, are omnipresent. Moreover, it is not uncommon that threats like global warming and related natural disasters are on the news. There seems to be a growing understanding of the need to handle our planet in a way that enables subsequent generations to enjoy the same conditions. Therefore, nation states take measures to counter the threat of climate change. The government of Germany, for example, founded the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety in 1986. Today, it finances loads of measures to protect the natural environment, as it is the case in many other countries as well. But where does this liability towards the natural environment come from?

Due to Frank, Hironka and Schofer (2000), environmental protection has been institutionalised at the global level. Thus, it a top-down process which determines the nation state’s growing actions regarding environmental protection. However, the authors do not outline in detail how and by whom this process of institutionalisation was initiated.

In 1945, the United Nations were founded. Since then, they have played a major role in the global institutionalisation of norms (see Sills 002: 39f.). Without doubt, environmental protection is a global topic as here, “laws and problems seem to flout national boundaries” (Frank, Hironka, Schofer 2000: 96). Thus, this paper argues that the United Nations have played an essential role in the global institutionalisation of environmental protection measures and are still of great importance in this regard.

To investigate this thesis, the sociological theoretical framework is going to be outlined in chapter 2. Chapter 2.1 deals with the basic assumption of Frank, Hironka and Schofer. Afterewards, in chapter 2.2 and 2.3, two relevant sociological concepts are going to be presented: norms and institutionalisation. In relation to the thesis, this is going to be brought together in chapter 2.4, which describes the institutionalisation of global norms. In chapter 3, the role of the United Nations is going to be presented. After briefly introducing the UN in chapter 3.1, the Charter of the United Nations - which is the founding document - is going to be analysed for hints to environmental protection in chapter 3.2. Chapter 3.3 describes the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on the Human environment which took place in 1972. In chapter 3.4, the United Nations Environment Programme is going to be presented. Chapter 3.5 deals with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, while chapter 3.6 is concerned with the related COP 21 and the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the United Nations Development Goals are important in this context and are going to be outlined in chapter 3.7, such as the United Nations International Year, presented in chapter 3.8. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the results in regard to the thesis.

2 Theoretical framework

2.1 The Increase of Nation States’ Activities of Environmental Protection

Frank, Hironka and Schofer (2000) argue that nation states’ activities of environmental protection steadily increase. Instead of considering that as a bottom-up process starting at the domestic level, they maintain that the increase of national activities to protect the environment is a top-down process. Thus, due to the authors, the nation state’s responsibility of environmental protection has been institutionalised globally, which means that “blueprints for nation-state involvement are drawn in world society” (Frank/ Hironka/ Schofer 2000: 96). Moreover, the authors found out that with the establishment of environmental protection issues in world society, nation states’ activities relating to this have grown in correlation with an increasing importance of environmental protection issues within the United Nations (UN). Relevant nation states’ activities to protect the natural environment include opening national parks or chapters of International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) concerned with environmental protection, becoming a member in Environmental INGOs, conducting environmental impact assessments, and founding environmental ministries (see Frank/ Hironka/ Schofer 2000: 111).

The authors’ elaboration already mentions the importance of the UN in those increased nation states’ activities regarding environmental protection. In this context, they maintain that especially after the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, and the creation of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 1972, nation states’ environmental activities have become more and more apparent (see Frank/ Hironka/ Schofer 2000: 97). This implies that to a large extent, the UN has contributed to the global institutionalisation of environmental protection issues.

Thus, this paper is going to investigate the history of the global institutionalisation of environmental protection by the United Nations. Following Ramesh Thakur (2003: 9), the United Nations are considered to act as “an international framework of rules and norms”.

Also Sills (2002) has investigated which role the United Nations play in terms of framing global norms. He concluded that especially in the context of global conferences held within the framework of the United Nations, important new global norms have been produced, interpreted and enforced as a reaction to a variety of global problems (see Sills 2002: 39f.).

At this point, it is important to briefly introduce the sociological concepts of norms and the process of institutionalisation, which are going to be outlined in the following chapters, constituting the theoretical framework of this paper.

2.2 The Sociological Concept of Norms

Norms can be described as expectations of what an individual person wants another one to do. If the process of aggregation takes place, more and more members of society follow the same expectation. This, eventually, leads to the occurrence of the mechanism of sanctioning, if the - at this stage commonly accepted - expectation is not fulfilled by one of the members (see Meulemann 2013: 145f.). Following Axelrod (1997: 40f.), if this willingness to sanctioning is averagely high, while at the same time the willingness to defection is averagely low, the preconditions for the validity of a norm within society are fulfilled. In this context, it is important to emphasize that a valid norm does not emerge during the interaction of only two in individuals. A third individual has to be there to make sure that the sanctioning does take place (mechanism of the sanctioning of not-sanctioning) (Alexrod 1997: 54).

2.3 The Sociological Concept of Institutionalisation

The term institution has been widely discussed among sociological scholars. Here, institution shall mean a normatively regulated connection of certain forms of the social behaviour of certain actors (see Meulemann 2013: 249).

However, what is more important for this paper than the term institution, is the related process of institutionalisation. Due to Berger/ Luckmann (1966), institutionalisation describes the process of the connection between certain actions of certain actors becoming increasingly normatively regulated.

In this context, Berger/ Luckmann (1966) argue that the process of institutionalisation consists of multiple steps. The first one is the achievement of broad consensus, deriving from expectations towards other members of the social system. The second step consists of the extension of those expectations to others who are not present. Third, the process of institutionalisation creates institutionalised instances, which then themselves can determine topics for which consensus - or at least assumed consensus - is expected.

2.4 The institutionalisation of global norms

Bringing together the sociological concepts of norms and institutionalisation with this paper’s topic, environmental protection can be seen as a norm which has been institutionalised at the global level. Seeing world society as the society the process of institutionalisation refers to, it means that environmental protection has become commonly accepted. Following the theoretical approaches, it would also mean that countries which refuse to implement environmental protection issues get sanctioned in a way by other member states; the conclusion is going to further deal with that. The next chapter is going to outline the United Nations role in the global institutionalisation of environmental protection.

3 The Role of the United Nations in the Global Institutionalisation of Environmetal Protection

3.1 The United Nations

The United Nations were established in 1945 in the context of the end of World War II. Representatives of 50 nations met in San Francisco to draw up on the Charter of the United Nations, which was signed by those country representatives on 26 June 1945. On 24 October 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was approved by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Therewith, the United Nations were officially established (see DPI 2010: 3).

The aforementioned Charter contains the basic purposes of the United Nations. Those are the maintenance of international peace and security, the establishment of respectful and equal relations between nations, the promotion of human rights and cooperation for solving international economic, cultural and humanitarian problems. The United Nations are supposed to be the platform for “harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends” (UN 1945: 3).

The main organs of the United Nations are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretariat and the International Court of Justice. Formally, the Trusteeship Council is the sixth organ, but as there are no Trusteeship areas left, it is not active at the moment (see DPI 2010: 6ff.).

Moreover, there is a large number of funds and programmes, organs, commissions, specialized agencies, departments and offices and so forth (see DPI 2015). As development issues are interdependent and overlapping, measures addressing environmental protection and climate change are incorporated in various UN programmes and activities. Nevertheless, there is one which is primarily concerned with environmental issues: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is going to be presented in chapter 3.4.

3.2 Environmental Protection in the Charter of the United Nations

As mentioned before, the United Nations Charter was drawn up in 1945. Taking a closer look at the principal purposes, finding solutions of humanitarian, economic and cultural problems is crucial. However, environmental or climate issues are not literally addressed (see UN 1945: 3). Thus, “in the first decades of the United Nations, environmental concerns rarely appeared on the international agenda” (DPI 2010: 214). This has changed significantly. After some agreements on marine pollution in the 1960s, the actual starting point of the United Nations’ advocacy for environmental issues was in 1972, when the “United Nations Conference on the Human Environment” took place (see DPI 2010: 214).

3.3 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment took place in Stockholm from 5-16 June 1972. Official reason for holding the conference was “the need for a common outlook and for common principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment” (UN 1972: 3). This was accompanied by the realization that further action needed to be shaped by considering the consequences for the natural environment. Furthermore, the report states that environmental protection plays a major role to ensure the worldwide wellbeing of people as the pollution of water and air contains high dangers. It literally labels environmental protection the “duty of all Governments” (UN 1972: 3), and that “local and national governments bear the greatest burden for large-scale environmental policy and action” (UN 1972: 4).

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Details

Seiten
16
Jahr
2017
ISBN (eBook)
9783668862432
ISBN (Buch)
9783668862449
Sprache
Englisch
Katalognummer
v454714
Institution / Hochschule
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover
Note
1,3
Schlagworte
Global Conflicts UN UNO United Nations Climate Environment Environmental Protection Climate Change UNEP Millennium Development Goals Sustainable Development Goals Institutionalisation

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Titel: The Global Institutionalisation of Environmental Protection Measures by the United Nations