Arrangements and Institutions for the Protection of the Environment

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The concern for the environment has resulted into the establishment of a number of national and international organizations dedicated to the cause of environmental protection. These arrangements or organizations have developed in response to problems and challenges faced by the world community and are still in the process of evolution dictated by the requirements of the time.

Many of these organizations were created and are still being used for purposes not concerned with environment; however, they have played an important role or are still playing an important part in activities concerned with environmental protection. Some of the important instruments or organizations which play an important part in development and implementation of environmental policy are listed below:

The United Nations System:

United Nations with its headquarters at New York, USA, is an organization which has played and is still playing a very important role in the development of environmental policies and the resolution of many environmental problems.

It is a global organization consisting of 185 states which is platform for discussion and resolution of all sort of problems of its member states. The charter for the establishment of this world body was approved and signed by 51 countries representing of the world's population on June 26, 1945, at San Francisco.

United Nations function mainly through a structure of committees, commissions, councils and some semi-autonomous bodies. The Secretariate of the United Nations provides administrative services for the General Assembly and its other bodies. It is headed by a Secretary General which is elected by the General Assembly. Of the three important councils of the United Nations the council for Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) is directly concerned with environmental matters. Closely related with ECOSOC but attached administratively to the Unit Nations Secretariate are a number of semi-autonomous bodies which, in various degrees, are involve in making and implementation of environmental policies. These are:

1. United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), established in 1963.

2. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), established in

3. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), established in 1965.

4. United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), established in 1965, specialized agency in 1986.

5. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972.

To this group may be added bodies of a more strictly economic character whose decisions may have some environmental impact. These include General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was established in 1947 in lieu of the International Trade Organization and the United Nations Disaster relief organization which are involved in a number of activities related with the environmental policy.

Associated with the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (The World Court) which adjudicates cases submitted to it by member states of the United Nations. Though the World Court has not been able to play a significant role in environmental affairs, yet with the growing number of environmental treaties it is expected that the Court may become an important body to decide disputes arising from exercise of environmental policies in near future.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is one of the most important institutions shaping the global environmental policy and its implementation. It was created by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1972, following a decision at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm (1972) which had recommended the creation of a new U.N. Environment Body.

UNEP has been designed to be the environmental conscience of the UN System which plays a catalytic role co-ordinating the activities of other UN Agencies and prompting them to integrate environmental consideration into their activities. Headquarters of UNEP are located in Nairobi, Kenya.

UNEP's environmental activities involve treaties and guidelines concerning environmental protection. It has been active in the area of International environmental law making and their implementation. More than forty out of nearly a hundred multi-lateral environmental treaties adopted outside the European Community since 1973 were concluded under the auspices of UNEP.

Environmental Assessment has been a keystone of UNEP's activity. It administers or co-ordinates activities of Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) and Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network with World Meteorological Organization. With World Health Organization (WHO) it monitors health related information and with Food and Agricultural Organization it monitors food contamination from all sources.

UNEP's environmental education programme is aimed at educating the general public. It involves about 10,000 educators in nearly 140 countries of the world UNEP's important area of activity today has been the building up of a wide spread social and political consensus for sustainable development while it continues to carry out its earlier commitments to the cause of protection of nature, natural resources and the environment.


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