Marine Environment Protection under Regional Conventions: Limits to the Contribution of Procedural Norms
Regional marine environment protection regimes prescribe specific procedural norms according to which participants are expected to implement the obligations the regimes impose. These norms include the broad requirement of cooperation per se to undergird the carrying out of all obligations. Cooperation is thus the framework within which participants are required to determine and observe the obligation to apply the best available techniques and best environmental practices, and to institute substantive monitoring and reporting practices. The prescriptive content of these norms reflects social, economic, and other interests at the base of participants' utilization of the marine area and its resources. As such, their expected observance of the requirements would hardly evidence unconditional commitment to the ideal of marine environment protection. Rather, it is an effort to balance that ideal against economic and other interests, the pursuit of which constitutes the raison d'être of the normative obligations. The balancing effort is aided by a regime's internal international institution, where such an institution is sufficiently endowed legally and materially to facilitate the process through supervising the observance of the monitoring and reporting obligations.