Ex-Post and Ex-Ante [Legal] Approaches to Climate Change Threats to the International Community
New Zealand Journal for Environmental Law, Vol. 9, pp. 209-238, 2005
30 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006
Climate change faces new threats to the international community. On the one hand, sea rise could be a factor of instability in many regions while, on the other hand, droughts could affect international rivers such as the Jordan River or the Nile River therefore increasing the political instability of their basin.
Against this background, the goal of this paper is to determine which path the international community should take in order to definitively tackle climate change threats to international peace: an ex-post approach or an ex-ante approach.
The ex-post approach analyzes the international legal and political framework in which future climate change related problems may be addressed by the international community. The first task is to determine whether climate change and its consequences may be considered as a threat to international peace and security in the light of Art. 39 of the United Nations Charter. The second task is to assess if the current legal and political framework of the international community can deal with these climate change related problems. In particular, the paper will see if the system provided for in Chapter 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter, which deals with threats to peace and international security, would be able to face such international problems. Whatever results the ex-post approach study will give us, it constitutes an effort to improve the international community's response to an environmental problem once it has already occurred.
The ex-ante approach focuses on the factors that provoke climate change and how to deal with them. It is now clear that the acceleration of climate change is primarily provoked by mankind through certain activities, such as the burning of oil. According to this approach, the international community must change its economic behavior and in some cases prioritize environmental interests over commercial interests. The legal relationship between the climate change regime and the international trade regime is a crucial issue within this context.
In sum, the international community should follow the ex-ante approach. However, taking into account the current status of international affairs, this is not likely to happen in the short term. For this reason, I consider it vital that legal and political scholars take action within the ex-post approach in order to improve the current international community response to climate change threats, in particular by improving the maintenance of international peace and security system provided for in the UN Charter.
Keywords: Human security, peace and security, climate change, Kyoto Protocol, compliance mechanism, United Nations, Security Council, trade
JEL Classification: K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation