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    State Soveriegnty and Environmental Sustainability Essay

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    State Sovereignty vs. Environmental SustainabilityWith humanities growing knowledge of skills and technology, we have been able tomanipulate nature to meet the growing needs of humans. By doing this humans havefished, gathered species, hunted for food, fuel, and shelter. Humans have domesticatedplants and animals, cut forests, used anything from fire to technological advancements toalter habitats, and have significantly changes chemical hydrological and geochemicalcycles.

    As a result humans do not reflect what life on earth is, but changes to landscapeand sea reflect human culture. As species die, humans lose their food, medicines andindustrial resources and products that supply today for tomorrow. For humans to thinkthat they can be the last species standing and still survive is being ignorant of the facts . This problem is of global concern and must be resolved with the cooperation of states,NGOs and the scientific community.

    Counties must realize that their sovereignty comessecond to the sustainable survival of not only the human race, but all of earthsIn the early 1400s, human population began to grow substantially. The increasein population added stress to earths resources and ecosystem which consistently increasedas humans developed new technologies. This period of technological enlightenment beganin the mid to late 1700s with the industrial revolution, which was also the time whenhumans moved out of self sustained villages and farms into complex interdependent cities. Intensive industrialism started with the invention of the steam engine and ignited a massconsumption of earths resources with developed countries consuming a majority of resources and developing countries trying to catch up to the first worlds technologicalAs third world countries try to compete with their flourishing neighbors, earthsnatural resources have been stressed to an unsustainable level which poses two mainproblems.

    Humans moving from rural to urban areas of the country allow people to useresources that wouldnt have been available if local sustainable lifestyles had beenmaintained. And second, as the human population drastically increases, resources neededper capita increases, consequentially adding stress on the environment. 1 As need forresources increased, so did technologies in transportation, which allowed for extensivelogging in tropical rainforest. The degradation of such habitats continues to result in theloss of an enormous amount of species. Scarcity of natural resources has posed a largeproblem not only on the earth, but has created conflict among countries.

    Disagreementsaccording to the specific details of environmental problems and how to solve them havecreated problems in international relations. The intractable difference between all countries who express concern is theirsovereignty. The dominant tradition within International Relations is state-centric,centered around concepts of state sovereignty and the beliefs that states are the primaryactors in international affairs and that international affairs and international politics arelargely driven by states pressing their interest. 2 Environmental problems usually affectmore than one state and pose limitations on a states sovereignty. Let us take the exampleof biodiversity. In 1992, nations gathered in Rio De Janeiro for the Earth Summit.

    Several nations brought their environmental concerns including biological diversity to thetable , and over one hundred government representatives signed the Convention onCountries who sign an international convention may have full intentions ofcarring out the purposed plan of action but once that moment of compliance comes, ittends to be more difficult to comply than expected. Economic or technologicaldisadvantages may limit a countries capacity to comply with original goals set by thetreaty. Even if states sign the treaty it may take longer to implement due todisagreements between differences in specific details. In the case of the Convention onBiodiversity, there was a major split between the North and the South. The two issuesthat divided the North and South were plant genetic diversity and intellectual propertyThe southern hemisphere provides a plethoric variety in genes among wild plantspecies in comparison to the North. The second factor splitting the two hemispheres wasintellectual property rights which are legal ownership of inventions made by a state.

    Basically the developing countries wanted to protect their rights and demanded money forthe exchange of genetic resources. States like Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia thought thatthe resources are property of the state in which they are discovered. The North (UnitedStates, Canada, France, West Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom) would not agree tothese terms and argued that they be allowed to extract the resources from these countries. They claimed that these .

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