Trapped between sovereignty and globalization: Implementing international environmental and natural resources treaties in developing countries. The case of Lebanon
This dissertation explores what it means for a developing country such as Lebanon to implement an international environmental or natural resource treaty. The colonial legacy has left much of the third world structurally dependent on the West; and the post-colonial period has further exposed the vast difference in, interests and power between the ruling third world elite and the majority of citizens in the third world. These realities are, for the most part, ignored in the literature of international environmental treaty compliance, which usually assumes the existence of ‘rational,’ liberal-democratic states. The theoretical approach taken in this dissertation exposes the limitations of the dominant neo-liberal and neo-realist international relations theories. These theories have merged into a ‘neo-neo’ synthesis and have become widely accepted by national and international policy-makers alike. This dissertation challenges the assumptions of a state-centric world and accepts that non-state players perform a crucial role in the international and national political, economic, and social orders. Thinking in terms of a dynamic model of ‘flows,’ whereby water, waste, power, and people are conceptually freed of the inter-state system, it allows us to escape rigid IR theories that seek to define, and thus to limit the options available to us.
Specifically, this dissertation investigates the hazardous waste crisis that first emerged in Lebanon in 1986, as well as the tension resulting from the Assi (Orontes) River Agreement of 1994. It asks what impact the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (“Basel Convention”) and the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (“UN Water Convention”) have had on state and non-state players alike in Lebanon in these two cases. It further asks why there was, eventually, compliance in the hazardous waste case but not the water case, given that the internal (the sectarian system) and external (its weakness as a state) pressures on Lebanon were almost identical. It concludes that the difference lies in the successful formation of an informal transnational alliance between Lebanese and international non-state players; and that the effectiveness of this alliance lies in its ability to challenge state players to accept changes in the international legal order through the creation of new international norms. These new norms, as expressed through international environmental treaties, must bridge the gap between the ideals of international law and the realties involved in the application of international law in developing states that have weak institutional capacity and little political will.
0616: International relations
0768: Environmental science