By Clara Grillet and Bleuenn Guilloux
On Saturday, June 24, 2017, Laurent Fabius, the former president of COP21 and current president of the French Constitutional Council, launched the Global Pact on the Environment. He was joined by such prominent public figures as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ban Ki-Moon and Laurence Tubiana. Over 80 international experts collaborated to writing this preliminary proposal led by the Club des Juristes, a French think tank. To this end, France committed itself to submitting the proposal to the international community at the General Assembly of the United Nations in September. Despite this proof of strong political will, discussions are likely to continue for several years. It will be a long time before the Pact is signed, ratified and implemented.
Why a Global Pact for the Environment?
This Pact is modelled after two previous texts from 1966: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Twenty five years after the Earth Summit, this Pact aims at offering global protection for the environment, outside the normative framework of human rights (unlike the proposed International Pact on the Human Right to the Environment – or projet de Pacte international relatif au droit des êtres humains à l’environnement in French – which was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 15th, 2017 (more information >>here<<).
The Global Pact for the Environment seeks to become the cornerstone of modern international environmental law from which sectoral agreements, such as those regulating marine environment and activities spaces, will derive. The Global Pact reiterates great principles of environmental law, for instance the principles of precaution, prevention or the more recent innovative principle of resilience and non-regression. It remains unclear whether the principles contained in this declaratory text will apply in a binding and concrete way.
What does that mean for the ocean?
Article 3 of the Global Pact explicitly refers to the protection of the ocean, along with the main two other challenges of the 21st century: combatting climate change and maintaining biodiversity. All of the principles the Pact recognizes will apply to the ocean as well as to other components of the environment following an integrated and holistic approach.
Let us hope that this Pact will mark a renewed solidarity between states, non-state actors, present and future generations whose genuine link is our environment.