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The Hague Environmental Law Facility

2 December 2009

The Hague Environmental Law Facility - ImageFollowing the proposals of the feasibility study carried out by the T.M.C. Asser Institute and the IES presented in May 2009, the two project partners decided to take the next step in the set up of The Hague Environmental Law Facility (HELF).

One of the most pressing issues in international environmental law and its defining elements, the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), is compliance and enforcement. To address this lack, which persists since the launch of UNEPs Environmental Law Program (Montevideo Program) in 1982, the IES and the T.M.C. Asser Institute are envisaging an integrated approach with various applications.

The use of the latest remote sensing technologies in partnership with the GMES program of the European Union and a CSR-component involving the private sector are credible means for settling environmental disputes and increase the capacity of governments to comply with the respective MEAs. The training component conducted by organisations based in The Hague will be directed to civil servants, diplomats, enforcing agencies and judiciary actors to improve implementation and education on existing and latest developments in international environmental law.

IES legal advisor Serge Bronkhorst sees a lot of potential in the facility: ?Apart from States addressing the issues at the interstate level, there are many others injured or so called interested (non-state) parties involved seeking redress, restoration or compensation for damage resulting from environmental damage e.g. the forest fires in Kalimantan, Indonesia. HELF could assist these parties in seeking justice: from the Indigenous People being deported from their ancient lands to nature conservation groups trying to save the orang-utan, and from a local farmer finding his crops polluted by smog to the director of Singapore Changi Airport seeking for compensation for recurring closure of his airport as a result of poor visibility. All these parties may very well welcome the help offered by the legal facility in The Hague in directing them to a proper (alternative) dispute resolution mechanism.?

Findings in gaps and development of environmental law also revealed the unexploited potential of remote sensing satellite monitoring to deliver ?teeth? to existing legislation on European and international level. The University College of London is currently conducting a research program on existing satellite applications for legal compliance in Australia, which has the richest history in the legal use of remote sensing to protect the environment.

Jonathan Solomon
HELF Project Assistant

University College of London - Centre for Law and the Environment | The Hague Environmental Law Facility

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