International environmental justice: A north -south dimension

Ruchi Anand, Purdue University


This study examines the question: Is the theory of environmental justice, as has been used at the national US level, a useful theoretical tool to analyze and inform the North-South schism in global environmental politics? I hypothesize that the case for environmental justice can be replicated at the international level where countries of the South have to bear disproportionate environmental burdens. I use three international environmental case studies, namely the export of hazardous waste, the ozone regime and climate change to investigate this hypothesis. This study highlights that although issues of justice and fairness arise in all international negotiations, they are usually not the most crucial considerations. At the international level, individual countries with different power potentials and national interests characterize the playing field where each country seeks to maximize its power and benefits from negotiation while simultaneously minimizing costs and the question of how to divide costs and benefits. This then becomes the heart of treaty-negotiation and acceptance, and the foundation for how to define justice. Justice, defined in terms of the distribution of costs and benefits is also the greatest cause of discord, disagreement and failure of an international treaty. From discussions that ensued from the three case studies, I found an interesting relationship between three factors: responsibility, vulnerability and capacity. I also found that vulnerability of the North plays a crucial role in determining how readily the North would agree to the needs of the South in order to foster international cooperation. This in turn gets framed as justice. ^




Major Professor: Louis Renes Beres, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Political Science, International Law and Relations

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