Thursday, January 26, 2017

Legal change and geography of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system

The Canadian Geographer recently published Jamie Benidickson's "From boundary waters to watersheds: Legal change and the geography of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system" (thanks to Canadian Legal History blog for noting it). The abstract:
It is appropriate to recognize an evolving legal and institutional perspective on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system (GL-SL) as a means of furthering the understanding that is provided from established cartographic, bio-geological, historic, and cultural perspectives. This paper describes elements of that evolution from a one-dimensional legal conceptualization of the GL-SL as a boundary reflecting sovereign autonomy and state security, through a more complex recognition of the water system involving navigation, fisheries, and water supply, to a more comprehensive acknowledgment of basin- and ecosystem-oriented approaches where land-use activities and influences ranging from groundwater flows through air-borne contamination must be accounted for. The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1972–2012) provide general points of reference.
There's a lot in this article on pollution regulation, fisheries, and more.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

California, Chile, and water law

Ralco dam & hydroelectric plant, Veoverde
Carl Bauer and Luis Catalán recently posted “Water, law, and development in Chile/California cooperation, 1960s-1970s”. First, the abstract:
During 1963-1978 the governments and the top universities of Chile and California undertook three programs of binational development assistance and cooperation. The programs built on a long historical relationship between the two regions, marked by their striking similarities in physical geography and natural resources, despite being 1000s of miles apart on opposite sides of the Equator. The first program was for technical development assistance to Chile in the framework of the Alliance for Progress, and involved the three governments of Chile, California, and the United States. Water resources and river basin development planning were a primary emphasis, and led to building Chile’s largest dual-purpose reservoir (Colbún). The second program was for graduate-level academic exchange and involved the two leading public university systems, the University of Chile and the University of California. This comprehensive program was funded for more than a decade by the Ford Foundation, with agriculture, natural sciences, and engineering the dominant fields. The third program was a separate effort to reform Chilean legal education, led by Stanford Law School and funded by the Ford Foundation. This Chile Law Program was a leading international example of the “law and development” movement in the 1960s, which overlapped closely with the early years of the “law and society” movement in the U.S. Both university and law school programs ended after the Chilean military coup in 1973. What were the impacts of these programs on water, law, and society in both Chile and California? What lessons can we learn today from those historical experiences? We answer these questions with an historical overview and synthesis of diverse documents and evidence. In focusing on water, law, and society, we aim to contribute to the interdisciplinary synthesis of different fields of development studies.
And from the conclusion:
In terms of water, California’s influence has been noticeable in dams and technology, but not in law and policy....

Friday, January 20, 2017

In memoriam: Wolfgang Burhenne

January 6 saw the passing of Wolfgang Burhenne, a key figure in post-war German and international environmental law, at age 92.

A review by Tracy Mehan in the Environmental Forum earlier this year tells explained that Burhenne spent much of World War II imprisoned by the Nazis for aiding the resistance. Then, after the war:
through an unpaid engagement with a hunting club, he eventually obtained employment with the hunting administration of the Free State of Bavaria. There he became involved in hunting legislation. And so his passion became the preoccupation of his professional life. Hunting shaped his ideas on sustainability, i.e., “use natural resources in a way that allows full recovery.” “Sustainable use is a principle I have always known from hunting,” maintained Burhenne.
Burhenne and his second wife, Françoise, were “directly involved in nearly all major international conventions concerned with conservation over the past 25 years, and the development of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Environmental Law Center in Bonn,” as described by the United Nations Environment Program when awarding them the UNEP International Environmental Prize in 1991. “No two people have done more to strengthen the position of international and national environmental law as a fundamental element of environmental management,” according to the citation....
Wolfgang Burhenne was a highly successful policy entrepreneur and the node connecting several nongovernmental organizations and foundations, some of which he basically created from scratch. His wife provided the intellectual ballast while he forged the alliances, negotiated the treaties and raised the money. Together they worked on countless drafts and treaties that are the foundation of much of international environmental law, among them the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the 1979 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the 1982 UN World Charter of Nature, the 1985 ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In search of post-Brexit England

I highly recommend reading a beautiful piece by Helen Macdonald just published in the New York Times Magazine, "In Search of Post-Brexit England, and Swans". The story opens:
In the days after the Brexit vote last year, I became obsessed with an oil painting called “Swan Upping at Cookham” [below, Stanley Spencer, 1915-1919], which portrays a scene from an ancient and colorful English tradition. “Swan Upping” refers to the annual summer voyage of a flotilla of wooden skiffs that sets off from the town of Sunbury-on-Thames on a five-day journey to catch all the swans on the upper reaches of the River Thames. The crews check the parentage of young birds and place a mark on them to claim their ownership: Some belong to the queen, others to the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers, two ancient trade guilds based in the City of London. The painting depicts a traditional stop on the uppers’ trip. Here is the river and the Ferry Inn, wooden punts, moody clouds, women carrying cushions, a fretted iron bridge and a swan bound and hoisted in coils of rope and canvas, white neck craning from a man’s shoulder.

After some interesting background on the painting and on the place of these swans in English national mythology, Macdonald explains more about the legal historical background of the "upping":