Staff Reporter

The professor has proposed UNEP upgradation

Prof. Desai holds the Jawaharlal Nehru Chair at JNU

NEW DELHI: Following a recent brainstorming panel discussion on “Global Environmental Entity (Legal and Institutional Issues)” at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, a United Nations representative has approached the professor who articulated a proposal for upgradation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Peter Maurer, the Permanent Representative of Switzerland at the UN, who along with his Mexican counterpart Claude Heller had been mandated by the UN General Assembly to chair the “Informal Consultative Process on the Institutional Framework for the United Nations’ Environmental Activities”, has shot off an e-mail to Bharat H. Desai to have an in-depth discussion on the subject.

Prof. Desai holds the Jawaharlal Nehru Chair in International Environmental Law at the Centre for International Legal Studies at JNU.

Addressing a Press conference on Wednesday, Prof. Desai spoke of the recent development and how in the past few years there have been intense inter-governmental deliberations on “International Environmental Governance”.

“The 2006 Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s ‘High-Level Panel on System-wide Coherence’ has endorsed the proposal for a ‘specialised agency’ for global environment. There has been a 2005 European Union proposal pending before the General Assembly for upgrading the UNEP as a United Nations Environment Organisation (UNEO).”

Striking similarities

Prof. Desai claimed that the UNEO proposal was similar to the one presented by him at the Legal Department of the World Bank, Washington, way back in 1999 where he spoke about how the UNEP -- established by the General Assembly in 1972 -- ought to be strengthened as United Nations Environment Protection Organisation (UNEPO).

Highlighting “striking similarities” between his proposal and that of European Union, Prof. Desai said: “We are not getting into the debate of whether the European Union has hijacked our proposal or not. But if one goes through both the proposals, it will be clear that except for the use of the term ‘protection’, everything else is just the same. For instance, I suggested that the UNEPO should be a specialised agency with a relationship agreement under Article 57 and 63 of the United Nations’ Charter and the EU proposal states that UNEO should have an equal footing with other specialised agencies.”

“As regards the mandate for UNEPO, my proposal talks of an environmental forum that reflects the wishes and expectations of all members of the United Nations. Similarly, the EU underscores the need of an authoritative body on the global environment with a revised and strengthened mandate,” he claimed.

Though admitting that the situation would have been much different if the Indian authorities had supported his proposal, Prof. Desai said in the past three years the Government had been showing an interest in this field and his works.

“If India wants a global position, she has to play a leading role in these issues as well to safeguard its interests and those of the other developing countries,” he stated.