Friday, 30 March 2012

Environmental Impact Assessment across Boundaries

Lecture by Christian Tomuschat (Humboldt University of Berlin) –
Borders and Borderlands: Contested Spaces – 15th Berlin Roundtables on Transnationality

Under domestic law, environmental impact assessment has progressively become an indispensable procedure regarding construction work which entails risks for its neighbourhood. In particular, nuclear power plants can normally only be authorized after careful prior investigations. At the international level, no general procedure for that purpose has yet come into being. In the past, many nuclear plants were built close to borders with neighbouring countries, with governments relying on their territorial sovereignty. To insist on such unilateral decision-making, without involving those likely to be negatively affected not only in case of an accident, but also as a consequence of routine operations, is an anachronism in a world placed under the principles of good neighbourliness and trans-boundary cooperation.

Christian Tomuschat is professor of public international law and European law at Humboldt University of Berlin and a former member of the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN's International Law Commission. In 1994, he chaired the UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) after the conclusion of peace accords between the Guatemalan government and the guerrillas in December 1996. In 2010, he was appointed head of the UNHCR-Mission for the inspection of the implementation of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone-Report.