Abstract/Details

The environmental politics of the international waste trade


1991 1991

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Abstract (summary)

Global trade in toxic wastes accelerated during the 1980s, driven by high potential profits made possible through the combination of: (1) dramatic increases in waste generation, (2) the public NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) syndrome which blocks new disposal facilities in Western nations, and (3) very different regulatory climates for waste management among countries. Since 1986, proposals to ship wastes internationally total an estimated 163 million tons. Half of the approximately 10 million tons of toxic waste actually shipped since 1986 have been between industrialized countries to established landfills, incinerators, or recyclers. However, developing and eastern bloc countries received almost 5.2 million tons of the total exported. These recipients do not have the appropriate technical infrastructure, nor legal and administrative controls, to safely manage toxic wastes. No exporting country, importing country, nor international treaty adequately regulates, or even monitors, these transboundary movements.

The toxic waste trade is a case which bears out the "pollution haven" hypothesis: that less stringent environmental regulations will attract development of especially polluting products and processes to poorer nations. Questions of sovereignty and the right to independent risk assessments by each nation apply to waste imports, even though they are not desired products, but substances that parties must be paid to accept.

When viewed in the context of the North/South dialogue on environmental issues over the last twenty years, the response to this new toxic waste trade reveals an interesting twist. Early positions in the N/S debate by the Third World endorsed national development and sovereignty as primary concerns, and characterized environmental protection as a luxury. In a priority reversal, the Third World now demands environmental protection on this issue, while the industrialized world emphasizes development and sovereignty principles.

If the value dimensions of ethics and equity are considered, then the appropriate goals of waste trade negotiations become clear: to prevent the transfer of environmental risk to vulnerable groups, while at the same time allowing some legitimate trade. Selected market tools, international agreements, and national regulations could achieve the desired control of waste trading. Practical lessons derived from this case are useful for other aspects of international environmental policy negotiations.

Indexing (details)


Subject
International law;
International relations;
Environmental science;
Business costs
Classification
0616: International law
0616: International relations
0768: Environmental science
0505: Business costs
Identifier / keyword
Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, pollution haven, waste trade
Title
The environmental politics of the international waste trade
Author
Strohm, Laura A.
Number of pages
239
Publication year
1991
Degree date
1991
School code
0930
Source
DAI-A 52/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Advisor
Lazar, Arpad von
University/institution
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
9125253
ProQuest document ID
303950154
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/303950154
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