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The UNEP Role

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Abstract

The labours of Hercules were essentially heroic. Charged with drama, they hold the attention of the reader and end happily. Sisyphus, condemned for eternity to roll a rock to the top of a cliff, only to have it roll back, so that he had to start again, commands our attention as a metaphor for futility. Put simply, this chapter argues that the United Nations Environment Programme’s so-called catalytic mandate was a Herculean challenge, whereas its so-called coordinating mandate, contained in the same 1972 founding resolution, was Sisyphean. To perform the first, UNEP must be released from the nightmare of the last. Some progress in this direction was conceded at Rio by the decision to create a new Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), that will free UNEP for more creative tasks, but also expose it to new risks, to be fully explored in Chapter 5.

Keywords

Executive Director Catalytic Role Governing Council Environment Fund Programme Budget 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    John McCormick, The International Environmental Movement; Reclaiming Paradise (Belhaven, 1989), p. 91.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p. 93.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For extended commentary and texts, see United Nations Yearbook, 1971, pp. 307–13.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    McCormick, op. cit., pp. 93–4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The full text of the 26 Principles may be found in Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, A/CONF. 48/14/Rev. 1, 1973, pp. 4–5 and is reprintedd as Appendix 1.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    UNEP Profile, UNEP, 1990, p. 32.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The delicacy and politicking surrounding demographic issues with the UN are well described by P. Taylor, ‘Population: Coming to Terms with People’, in P. Taylor and A. J. Groom (eds), Global Issues in the United NationsFramework (London: Macmillan, 1989), pp. 148–76.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    McCormick, op. cit., p. 103.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See ‘Trail Smelter Arbitration’, American Journal of International Law, 1939, p. 182. Also discussed by I. Detter de Lupis, ‘The Human Environment’ in P. Taylor and A. J. Groom, (eds), op. cit., p. 221.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The reference to a small secretariat is taken from Resolution 2997 (XXVII), Section II, para. 1. This Resolution, adopted in December 1972, replicated a resolution adopted in the 17th plenary session at Stockholm on 15 June of that year.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    All references to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2997, (XXVII), Section I, paras 1–3, 15 December 1972. Adopted by 116 votes to 0, with 10 abstentions.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    UN, General Assembly Resolution 2997 (XXVII), Section II, para. 2, (a)–(e).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., Section II, para. 2 (f)–(g).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    UNEP GC. 15/9/Add. 1, 30 January 1989, 89 pp.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Our Changing Planet: The FY 1991 US Global Change Research Programme, Office of Science Technology Policy, Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    United States General Accounting Office, United Nations, U.S. Participation in the Environment Program, GAO/NSIAD-89–142, Washington, DC, 1989, pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid., p. 24.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    UNEP, Evaluation Report 1988, UNEP/RG/88/2, Nairobi, 1988, pp. 56–58.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    UNEP, Evaluation Report 1989, Nairobi, 1989, p. 16.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., p 16.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    The Department of the Environment is the lead agency for UK policy in UNEP. The Secretary of State is answerable for Parliamentary questions. The Department pays the UK subscription to the Environment Fund, and coordinates the Whitehall machinery on UNEP questions. The FCO is part of the delegation; the ODA is also prominent on aid questions. The Department of Energy has the technical lead on CO2 questions; the DTI has responsibility on technology transfer and emissions; MAF has interest in adaptation to climate-change. The Treasury is the Treasury. Cooperation in Whitehall is ad hoc. There is no US-style system of inter-agency review, or standing committee, although reference has been made to an Interdepartmental Liaison Group meeting every six weeks. Both the House of Commons and House of Lords operate committees on environmental affairs.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark F. Imber 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St AndrewsUK

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