László Bézi

Towards a stronger legal cooperation

on environmental issues in the ASEAN region









The status and development of the legal framework on environmental cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), now and in the near future, are the main focus of this article. The environmental cooperation has become one of the most important fields of the South East Asian regional interest because of transnational nature that requires concentrated efforts by ASEAN nations to boost their natural resources management sectors such as forestry, fisheries and land. Although each country may have different environmental issues, most ASEAN member countries share common environmental problems.

ASEAN’s environment and natural resource endowments are unique in the world. Forest covers over 48 per cent of the member states, compared to the world average that is below 30 per cent. Three of the seventeen mega biodiversity countries are in the organization. The aquatic ecosystems and the marine environment in ASEAN are highly productive and rich in species. Now the region, embracing ten countries in South East Asia[1] is attempting to solve major causes of transboundary air pollution, smoke haze from forest fires, oil sludge from tankers and ballast water, coastal erosion and many others.[2] Those problems are related to, issues like, population growth, urbanization, economic growth[3], increased material consumption, highly polluting technologies producing energy and the primary resource extraction including the endangering the biodiversity with over-exploitation of living marine and coastal resources. And, apparently, it’s not only a regional problem but also a global task. The interdependency of our ecosystem makes the regional responsibility a far-reach bounden duty.

What is the most important at regional level then? Probably most environmental problems are too large for single states to handle, while international agreements have proven to stay too general and abstract to achieve concrete solutions. Hence, it’s already clear, that the ASEAN nations have to establish a more comprehensive legal framework and mechanism for constructive cooperation in environmental conservation along with sustainable development policies than they did in the last decades. The concept of sustainable development has not been adequately manifested beyond its value as a theoretical ideal.[4] A concrete and practical application of the concept has yet to be formulated to effectively reconcile the interests in development and the environment. The ASEAN Vision 2020 is to profess a vision of ASEAN “with fully established mechanisms for sustainable development to ensure the protection of the region’s environment, the sustainability of its natural resources, and the high quality of life of its peoples”.[5] The ASEAN State of the Environment Report 2000 also notices the current status of the members in a similarly optimistic way. [6] 

As a practical reality, the developmental interests of industries, corporations and even local authorities still often influence environmental decision–making in the ASEAN countries to a considerable extent. As Alan K.J. Tan mentions: “In addition, environmental programmes planned by agencies at the central level typically meet resistance or simply reticence on the part of regional or provincial authorities whose interests and priorities may not accord with those of the central government.”[7] On the other hand, they are already under increasing pressure from international agencies as well as their own environmental NGO’s to think seriously about their problems.[8] By these pressures, many countries in the region recognized the urgent need to attain a rational balance between economic development and environmental protection.[9]

At this juncture, ASEAN needs to define clearly a role on the evolution of legal mechanisms in the field of environment as it relates to the regional integration as well as to the international strategies for environmental cooperation.[10] It would not be easy, because no ASEAN organ holds any clear mandate to legislate for ASEAN, not even the ASEAN Summit.[11] Unlike the EU, ASEAN is not a supranational identity, acting independently on behalf of its members. Nonetheless, the organization has not struck a balance yet between the traditional policy of non-interference in a member country’s internal affairs[12] and the need to produce strategically meaningful decisions in an effective way with permanent monitoring and control.[13] Presumably this is one of the reasons why the ASEAN’s actual record in environmental protection is very modest, despite the fact that the cooperation has long been on the organization’s agenda.

Otherwise, the organisation realised several excellent results. Today environmental agencies in all the ASEAN countries stand at a high level of the governmental organizational structure. There has been considerable modernization in environmental standards and regulations too, partly supported by activities from the ASEAN Secretariat. The doctrine of the functional cooperation - which covers environmental fields, too - is integrated officially to the pillars of the ASEAN by the Bali Concord II.[14] In recent years, the ASEAN also launched programs called ASEAN Environmental Years to encourage efforts taken by the member countries.[15] Also numerous steps were taken to promote the environmental education in several levels. Among these achievements, the most important was to develop regional environmental agreements. In the past, the ASEAN has usually promoted regional cooperation through bilateral relations, which over the time have developed into an overlapping and interlocking network. Now, they begin to share functions and be managed by multilateral agreements for a better coordination.



Brief history of the cooperation



The ASEAN was founded in 1967 to encourage stable relations among the five founding member countries. To promote stability, the organization fostered economic, social and cultural cooperation. Recognising the benefits of collective action to address environmental problems, they formulated a framework for environmental cooperation also following the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. In my view, the cooperation could be divided into three periods.

 In the first period (1977 – 1992) the member countries are recognized their duties and possibilities and tried to lay the foundation of the cooperation by developing some common programs and agencies, but behind the words there was just modest realizable intention.

With the assistance of the United Nations Environmental Program, ASEAN Subregional Program (ASEP)[16] was initiated in 1977 and was adopted in the following year by the ASEAN Experts Group on the Environment (AEGE).[17] The ASEP I was further endorsed by Southeast Asian Governments at the first subregional Ministerial Meeting on the Environment, witch was held in Manila in 1981. This assisted in the development and implementation of two further ASEPs, namely ASEP II (1982-1987) and ASEP III (1988-1992).  An overall goal of these programs is to ensure to protect the region’s environment and the sustainability of the natural resources in order to eradicate poverty and attain the higher quality of life in the ASEAN region.[18]

In 1990, the AEGE was replaced with a group of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN), which is coordinated by the member countries on a three-year rotation. This body is designed to ensure the collated planning and implementation of regional environmental programs. Members meet annually and are assisted by three working groups targeting the issues of conservation; prevention and the multilateral environment cooperation. The Subregional Programs were also supplemented with several declarations, joint communiqués and agreements. The first, the Manila Declaration on the ASEAN Environment[19] was signed in 30 April 1981 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The Declaration considered four main policy guidelines: foster a common awareness on the environment; strengthen relations between the environmental protection and the development; encourage the enactment and enforcement of environmental protection measures and foster the development of environmental education programmes.

The forthcoming two declarations, the ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks and Reserves and the Bangkok Declaration on the ASEAN Environment were already signed by a new member, Brunei also. Both were done in Bangkok, 29 November 1984.  The document on Heritage Parks declares the recognition of the nature of environmental concerns that transcends national boundaries, and also that individual states are primarily responsible for their respective identified heritage sites. This declaration is recognising eleven national reserves from five countries[20] as ASEAN national heritage parks, and agrees in a common cooperation on conservation and managing these reserves. The Bangkok Declaration, which mentioned proudly the starting of the common mechanism of environment cooperation[21], established the system to achieve the implementation of a unitary ASEAN development strategy by ten main areas. Hereby the member countries adopted a framework of mutual actions related of the environmental management, nature conservation, marine environment, industrial waste management, urban environment, environmental education, environmental information systems, public participation[22], environmental legislation and international cooperation. Moreover, the members also considered the serious complexity of the task of integrating environmental protection concepts into national levels.

Thereafter in Kuala Lumpur, 1985, they accept the first agreement on the second area, conservation of nature and natural resources focusing on conservation of species and ecosystems (such as vegetation cover and forest resources, soil, water and air), conservation of ecological processes, environmental planning measures and impact assessment. The Agreement created the framework of the cooperation including monitoring, coordinating of research activities, standardising procedures, exchanging data, experience and information as well as a follow-up system to assist national focal points and a coordinating Secretariat.

In the following years, the Jakarta Resolution on Sustainable Development of 1987, the Kuala Lumpur Accord on Environment and Development of 1990 and the Singapore Resolution on Environment and Development of 1992 continued this progress. In these documents, the environmental ministers of the members adopted the principles of sustainable development and their formulation of policies and strategies for each ASEAN country as well as the harmonisation of environmental quality standards, transboundary pollution prevention and abatement practices to implement in order to advance regional cooperation. In the Singapore Resolution, the ministers also agreed to continue to promote public awareness on environmental issues[23] so as to bring about broader participation in environmental protection efforts, and to do so through greater exchange of information and experience on approach and strategies in environmental education.  

In the second period of the cooperation (1993-1998) – under the influence of the Rio Summit of 1992 - the ASEAN began to pursue efficient environmental programs and legal mechanisms in the national level. Cooperation was again enhanced in 1994 by the Bandar Seri Begawan Resolution on Environment and Development, which not only allowed further harmonization on the region’s environmental air and water quality standards, but also led to the development of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan on the Environment that encompass a full range of strategies.

The first Strategic Plan (1994-1998) consisted of five objectives[24], ten strategies and twenty-seven actions. A number of achievements have been made during the implementation period of the plan. These include, for example, the adoption of the Cooperation Plan on Transboundary Pollution in June 1995, Kuala Lumpur which consists of three program areas, namely: Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution, Transboundary Ship-borne Pollution and Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes.[25] In each program area, the objectives, strategies, activities and institutional arrangements were further elaborated. Following this agreement, a Haze Technical Task Force was established by ASOEN in 1995[26], with the aim to share information on fire prevention and containment, including making available satellite data on actual fires for developing a system for National Focal Points to alert ASOEN on impending haze. In the context of the most tragically transboundary pollution, the forest fires of 1997/98, the Strategic Plan facilitated the development of Regional Haze Action Plan too.[27]

In September 1997, the environmental ministers issued a new declaration to support the Strategic Plan. The Jakarta Declaration on Environment and Development marks a new era, a “human dream for a better future in the next millennium” by targeting cooperation to prevent and control all domestic sources of pollution as well as to produce, use and export globally competitive goods and services that use resources efficiently and sustainably. The declaration also mentions founding an ASEAN Environmental Award and ASEAN Environmental Year program. Three months later, the ASEAN Vision 2020[28], which “remains the most sacrosanct set of guidelines for ASEAN cooperation”[29], complemented this human dream.

And finally, as it seems, the third period of the cooperation from 1999 could be the beginning of a comprehensive, integrated strategy of coordination. The economic and financial crisis of 1997/98 has created and exacerbated serious environmental problems in the region in addition to a weakening capacity and leaving governments to resolve and enforce environmental regulations.[30] The crisis indicated the acceptance of second Strategic Plan for Action on Environment (1999-2004), which includes 15 specific initiatives[31] in line with the Vision 2020. The main achievement of this Plan was to adopt an Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in June 2002, Kuala Lumpur[32]. The objective of the Agreement is: “to prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution as a result of land or forest fires which should be mitigated, through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.”[33]  In parallel the Plan also developed programmes relating to the protection of biodiversity including genetic resources, sustainable management of water resources and integrated protection and management of coastal zones.

The last base document about ASEAN environmental cooperation was issued in October 2000 in Malaysia. The Kota Kinabalu Resolution on the Environment – among other issues - adopted and implemented the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (AEEAP) 2000 – 2005.[34] The AEEAP aimed to enhance manpower capability and initiates mass-based action in managing the environment through information, education and communications campaigns.

Likewise after the Stockholm Conference in 1972, another wave of recognition of global environmental interest spread over in South-East Asia as ASEAN countries actively contributed to the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg 2002. Following the Summit, the ASEAN Environmental Ministers in 2002 November in Vientiane went about the creation a new action plan. They agreed to further intensify cooperation in the ten priority areas, namely: global environmental issues; land and forest fires and transboundary haze pollution; coastal and marine environment; sustainable forest management; sustainable management of natural parks and protected areas; fresh water resources; public awareness and environmental education; promotion of environmentally-sound technologies and cleaner production; urban environmental management and governance; sustainable development, monitoring and reporting database harmonization. The Ministers also agreed that each member country would take a lead in implementing programs and activities in a particular area of interest to them, in order to further enhance regional cooperation.[35]  

In this new period of the ASEAN functional cooperation, probably the most important milestone was the declaration of the Bali Concord II in October 2003. Under the concept of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community of the Concord, the cooperation of ASEAN countries on the field of environment is essential.[36] According to the impacts of the Bali Concord and the Word Summit, in 18 December 2003, the Ministers accepted two documents to summarize and evolve regional environmental tasks and challenges of the beginning of the new millennium. The Rangoon Resolution of Sustainable Development declares the responsibility of the ASOEN „to contribute actively in the process of formulating the Vientiane Action Plan, particularly on concrete and realistic strategies, and measures in addressing problems associated with environmental degradation and transboundary pollution, with a view to achieving the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community which envisages a Southeast Asia bonded together in partnership as a community of caring societies”.[37] And finally, the ASEAN Declaration on Heritage Parks issued on the same day, as a serious step for the applicability of the Convention on Biological Diversity[38], recalls the spirit of the declaration of 1984 by stating the importance of national conservation areas and giving the highest recognition for them.



Institutional framework for cooperation



The Southeast Asia Subregional Report for the World Summit on Sustainable Development declares that “ASEAN has a strong political, institutional, and policy framework for environmental cooperation in the subregion.”[39] The only question is how to make it work efficiently? As mentioned above, there is nor ASEAN legislation body to issue laws and regulations neither any enforcement organ. The only way to reach cooperation is done through consensus by the representatives of the member states in various forums such as ASEAN Summits, ASEAN Ministerial Meetings or the ASOEN. And in the absence of enforcement at sub-regional level, the role of each member state in the implementation and the enforcement becomes critical: there is obviously a need to integrate the environmental ministries and agencies of the member countries more effectively within the process. (This role of implementation also appears in the opinion of Koh and Robinson: “There is no core ASEAN bureaucracy. The small secretariat, based in Jakarta, has a limited facilitation role. Activities are undertaken by each ASEAN member sate at the national level.”[40]) In this context, the method of consensus-seeking called ASEAN – way of these various ASEAN forums is too slow for a case of emergency. As Alan K. J. Tan reveals: „If meaningful regional integration is to be pursued and the idea of regional legal framework realised at all, the different constituent states of the region must not only practise musyawarah[41] or consensus-seeking but must be prepared to consider more stringent (and possibly binding) community action on each other when the need arises.”[42]

Despite of this unbalanced role, the central segment of the institutional framework is not quite simple. The main guidelines of the cooperation, like the Ha Noi Plan of Action[43] or the principles on sustainable development adopted by the highest decision-making mechanism, the Meeting of the Heads of Governments or States, usually known as ASEAN Summits. But the real policy maker body is the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment (AMME). They meet once every three years and there are also an annual informal meeting between these formal events since 1994. The main activity of the AMME is implementation of summits decisions, formulation of “common standards”, environmental conventions and agreements and also harmonization of environmental standards. Parallel with to this organ, the Functional Cooperation Bureau of the ASEAN Secretariat tries to coordinate this policy implementation and activities of various specialized units.

            The controlling of the execution and the monitoring of environmental quality is in the hands of ASOEN. This organ also meets annually to consider the reports of its Working Groups.[44]  The reports of the ASOEN meetings are adopted by the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC), which in turn reports to the AMME and ASEAN Ministerial Meeting of the Foreign Ministers (AMM). 

            As it seems too many cooks spoil the broth, but as I mentioned, the matter is not in the structural accord but the transit time. The term of decision making makes the practicality of its impacts doubtful.  Quite clearly, increase the public awareness of environmental issues and the sub-regional interest for execution of common decisions could help to find out effective reaction for environmental problems. NGO’s such as the IC-SEA[45], Haze Prevention Group[46] or EAPEI[47] could help to bring about broader participation in environmental protection efforts. 

            By the way, there are successful institutions within the ASEAN organisation, too. For example the ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, established in 1998 in Manila, has strengthened numerous research and capacity building programs and activities. It has also developed a biodiversity information database system and has National Biodiversity Reference Units in each member country.  



 Multilateral cooperation in the region



There are other dimensions of environmental cooperation outside of the framework of ASEAN. Plenty of serious initiatives, programs and plans are increasingly concerned with broader transnational issues of environment. Let me mention four of the most important of them.

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) program was initiated in 1992, with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)[48]. This program promotes the development of five ASEAN countries[49] and Yunnan Province of the People’s Republic of China. This cooperation is “very different from ASEAN or other regional agreements, for it is informal and guided only by a general set of principles and institutional arrangements.”[50] Within the program, various environment-related projects have been undertaken generally reflected for cooperative actions in resolving cross-border externalities, such as flooding and erosion resulting from deforestation and water diversion. Initial projects were the Subregional Environmental Monitoring and Information System (SEMIS) and the Subregional Environmental Training and Institutional Strengthening (SETIS). The SEMIS established a subregional environmental database and procedures for information sharing, while the SETIS focused on raising environmental awareness and capacity building in environmental management among government staff.

To ensure that subregional infrastructure projects do not adversely affect the environment, the Strategic Environmental Framework (SEF) initiative for the GMS was launched in 1998. The framework is needed because the GMS Program has stimulated a portfolio of infrastructure investment projects, including many whose impacts span national boundaries. The SEF’s goal is to support informed decision making through a coordinated approach. It aims to help prioritize key actions to address difficult environmental challenges that cross national boundaries. The SEF’s ultimate goal is sustainable development, where economic prosperity increases and poverty is reduced, while natural resources and biodiversity are conserved.[51] On the backgrounds of the projects there are international organizations (like UNEP, ADB or the World Bank) as well as responsible donors from different corners of the world.[52]

The Mekong River Commission (MRC), established in 1995, includes as members Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries agree to cooperate in all fields of sustainable development, utilization, management and conservation of the water and related resources of the Mekong River basin, such as flood control, hydropower, agriculture, fisheries and environmental protection[53].

The Commission consists of three permanent bodies: the Council, the Joint Committee and the Secretariat. The Council, which meets once a year, consists of one member from each country at ministerial or cabinet level. The Council makes policy decisions and provides other necessary guidance concerning the promotion, support, co-operation and co-ordination of joint activities and programmes in order to implement the 1995 Agreement. The Joint Committee consists of one member from each country at no less than Head of Department level. The Joint Committee is responsible for the implementation of the policies and decisions of the Council and supervises the activities of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat. The MRC Secretariat is the operational arm of the MRC. It provides technical and administrative services to the Council and the Joint Committee. Under the supervision of the Joint Committee, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the day-to-day operations of more than 100 professional and general support staff. The main counterparts for MRC activities in the four member countries are the National Mekong Committees (NMCs).

 The National Mekong Committees act as focal points for the commission in each of the member states and are served by the respective National Mekong Committee Secretariats. The Commission also maintains regular dialogue with the other countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion.[54] 

To promote integrated water resource management of all Southeast Asian countries (except East Timor) the ADB and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) assisted to found the Southeast Asia Technical Advisory Committee in 1997. The main objective of the Committee was the preparation and implementation of the national Program for Action for Water Security in the region. The outputs, called Southeast Asia Water Partnership is still on its childhood, but the ASEAN seems to promote the integration of the Program to the aims of the organisation.

The PEMSEA (Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia) Program was developed to address the national and transboundary environmental concerns of the seas of East Asia.[55] Recognizing the threats to their own living environment, eleven countries[56] in the East Asian region decided to work together to protect the life support systems of the seas and to promote the sustainable use of their renewable resources thought “intergovernmental, interagency and intersectoral partnerships”[57].



The international relations of the cooperation



   From the birth of the regional cooperation a serious international pressure is working to maintain the development, because several nations and organizations recognized the importance of the conservation of tropical and subtropical environmental conditions of South-East Asia. As Robert Pringle wrote in 1980: ”It would be unduly pessimistic to assume that it is impossible to influence Southeast Asian environmental practice.”[58]  However, there are various intentions from various interest groups, which sometimes hardly fulfil the aim of the environmental stability of the region. Expectations of the global stability demand a very different approach. For instance, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, as an intergovernmental agency, founded in 1967 with the mandate for promoting fisheries development in the region. One of the members is Japan, and fortuitously, the goals of the Center not always fit in with the aims of protections of living resources, coastal and marine environments.

 In spite of such contrasts, the region has made notable achievements in the area of international cooperation. The ASEAN countries have signed and ratified international agreements on numerous environmental problems, especially those with multiple causes and long - term diffuse consequences such as the Ramsar Convention,[59] the World Heritage Convention, the Rio and Kyoto Protocols, the Basel Convention[60], the Montreal Protocol[61], the Rotterdam Convention[62], and the Stockholm Convention[63].  In 1999 the ASEAN also signed the International Declaration on Cleaner Production, which was launched by UNEP.

After the ASEAN, the second level for the international environmental interest representation of the South East Asian nations is the APEC. This international organization also encompasses another subregional organization: the NAFTA. Following the lead of ASEAN, APEC’s operational style is based on voluntarism, consensus-seeking and flexible implementation. The environmental cooperation between the two organizations is excellent.[64]             Likewise there is a strong connection and cooperation between the ASEAN and its most important environmental donor, the European Community. The EC-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement was signed in 1980. Several forums, like ASEM conferences, EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting or Senior Officials Meeting assist the development of dialogue and programmes on environment issues such as deforestation, erosion or illegal logging.[65]        

The following big donors for financial and technical support of certain environmental programmes are the United States and it’s NGOs (for example: U.S. - Asia Environmental Partnership (USAEP) or the USAID) and the ADB[66]. ADB has financed various types of activities, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and water supply projects. It has responded favourably to recommendations that more attention be given to the environment and sustainable development. All of its projects are screened to assess their anticipated ecological effects. Some projects and programmes specifically target tropical forest management, biodiversity conservation, and integrated economic and environmental planning. Activities designed to have an impact on the environment have increased substantially since the early 1990s.[67]

The ASEAN as the prominent member of the UNEP Regional Programs in Asia and the Pacific[68] closely cooperate with other regional organisations such the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP)[69], the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP)[70], the North-East Asian Subregional Programme of Environmental Cooperation[71] or the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation[72] which embracing countries from the Indian Ocean and Himalayan region. 

On the 1st ASEAN+3 Environment Ministers Meeting in 21 November 2002 the ASEAN Ministers met the Environment Ministers from People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to further enhance cooperation within the framework of ASEAN+3 Cooperation. They agreed that consultation visits be made by senior officials of ASEAN to the +3 countries to establish working level contacts with relevant officials and institutions to further implement specific activities. There are also contact persons respectively to the ASEAN Secretariat in order to strengthen the communication among the ASEAN + 3.







From the year 2003, a new era of cooperation is blossoming out in South-East Asia. Probably the environmental issues still seems as the tiniest bud of this flowering time, but regarding the regional conditions, the records are hopeful. Notwithstanding, I would like to gather some important points which could be helpful for finding out the way of a more profitable cooperation. 

The main weakness of the cooperation in the decision making level in my view is the isolation of the common environmental policy from the economic and trade policies of the ASEAN. There are limited transition points, the economical decisions or agreements hardly harmonize to environmental relations, and vice versa.[73] The economical cooperation is defined as an independent pillar by the Bali Concord II while the environmental cooperation is something to mention almost at last in the same document.

Under this level, as mentioned above, the cooperation has many ways and in regard to the relevant role of local authorities, it’s clear, that intensifying of executive and controlling functions over their practices is needed. Nonetheless, the decentralization in some countries, like Indonesia, does not mean that the environmental management is out of the control of the central government. Thus the regional integration also recognized lots of problems connected the environment, primarily in the institutional and judicial sectors. For maintain the development and bring to perfection the results of the cooperation, in my opinion the ASEAN needs to step over the following tasks:


1.                      Support public participation in a coordinated way – projects to involve people of the region to environmental decision-making is often overlapping each other. Establish an umbrella organ for the environmental NGO’s of the region for coordination and guarantee permanent financial funds for them.


2.                      Develop and disseminate widely in the region, through written and electronic means, environmental law publications of particular relevance and importance to the region, including environmental law reports.


3.                      Initiation and fostering of a judicial dialogue and exchange of experiences in the field of environmental law in the region with sensitivity to the cultures and traditions of the region.


4.                      Promote discussion on possible conceptual and procedural advances, which will facilitate the development and application of environmental law jurisprudence by the courts and promote compliance with and enforcement of environmental law.


5.                      And last, but not least simplify the executive system of the organization by a permanent working body in the level of ASOEN without restrictions to sanction any member in case of pollution.




Selected bibliography


ASEAN Secretariat: ASEAN Economic Cooperation: Transition and Transformation Singapore, ISAS, 1997

Leszek Buszynski: The Development of ASEAN  IUJ Research Institute Working Paper Asia Pacific Series No. 8 at: http://www.iuj.ac.jp/research/wpap008.cfm

Mairi Dupar and Nathan Badenoch: Environment, Livelihoods, and Local Institutions – Decentralization in Mainland Southeast Asia World Resources Institute, 2002


Nathan Badenoch: Mekong Regional Environmental Governance: Perspectives on Opportunities and Challenges WRI/REPSI; Chinag Mai, Thailand, October 2001


John Gershman: APEC and ASEAN: Multilateralism In Asia Pacific The Progressive Response (Vol. 3. No. 33.) Sept 10. 1999. in: www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/asia/bershman0910099html


Ha Huong: Environmental Policies and Natural Resource Management in Southeast Asia - Global Nest; (Vol.1. No.3.) 1999, pp. 217-225


Indonesia 2001 – An Official Handbook (edited by I. Alkaf) National Information and Communication Agency; Jakarta, 2001


Eric A. L. Li: An Environmental Cooperation Agreement for the Asia - Pacific Region? The Australian Economic Review; (Vol. 32. Issue 2.) Jun. 1999, pp. 145 -156


Manuel F. Montes and Francisco A. Magno: Trade and Environment Diplomacy: Strategic Options for ASEAN  Pacific Affairs, No.70., Fall 1997, pp. 351- 372


Raviprasad Narayanan : Multilateralism: the East Asian way The Hindu, New Delhi,  July 4 2002,  available at: http://www.thehindu.com/2002/07/04/stories/2002070401411000.htm


Michael T. Rock: Pollution Control in East Asia: Lessons from Newly Industrializing Economies ISEAS, 2002


Pollution: Conference to draw up legal framework – The Straits Times, 16 June 1995, p.4


South-East Asia’s Environmental Future – the search for Sustainability (edited by: Harold Bookfield and Yvonne Byron) United Nations University Press; Tokyo, 1993.


Southeast Asian Countries to sign air pollution treaty – The Jakarta Post, 10 June 2002, p.7


Simon Tay: The Future of ASEAN: An Assessment of Democracy, Economies and Institutions in Southeast Asia - Pacific Review, Winter 2001; pp. 48-50.


Nick Thomas: From ASEAN to an East Asian Community? The Role of Functional Co-operation (SEARC Working Paper Series, No.28.), July 2002; City University of Hong Kong


Yin Yin Lay: Myanmar – ASEAN environmental cooperation - The New light of Myanmar Monday, 10 March, 2003. p.25




[1] The member states are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

[2] For a wider selection of problems and their causes see also the homepage of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at http://www.unescap.org

[3] The industrial output and energy consumption has grown faster in the region in the last decade than anywhere else in the world. For further details, see in: http://www.adb.org /gms

[4] See Warief Djajanto: ASEAN Feature: ASEAN Sustainable Development; (August 14, 2002) at http://www.aseansec.org/12779.htm

[5] ASEAN Vision 2020 ( December 15, 1997) available at  http://www.aseansec.org/5228.html

[6] The Report noting that “ASEAN’s dynamic economic growth in the last two decades has heightened concern for sustainable development. Member countries have moved to protect the environment and to control the rate of exploration of natural resources.” (ASEAN State of the Environment Report 2000; ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta) Chapter 12: Towards Sustainable Development pp. 183-194.

[7] Alan Khee-Jin Tan: Recent Institutional Development on the Environment in Southeast Asia – A Report Card on the Region, in: Singapore Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 6., (December 2002); University of Singapore

[8] See also Djajanto supra note 4. The article cites Hira Jhamtani, an Indonesian environment advocate who said that „the main challenges to sustainable development are public participation in decision making processes and the existence of a clean and accountable government.”

[9] However, as a group of developing nations, the organisation faces insurmountable problems in terms of capacity, human resources, finance and technology to fully implement international standards, including the Agenda 21.

[10] The organization clarifies only that: “The ASEAN Secretariat plays an important coordinating and enabling role in integrating environmental factors into other development activities of ASEAN.” In: ASEAN Annual Report 2000-2001 ( Jakarta ) p. 91.

[11] See also: Termsak Chalermpalanupap: The Need of a Legal Framework for ASEAN Integration – paper presented at the International Law Conference on ASEAN Legal Systems and Regional Integration, held on 3-4 September at the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya.

[12] This concept of non–interference results from that the ASEAN comprised of nations with diverse political systems including democracies, pseudo-democracies as well as states based on communist ideology. See also Robin Ramcharan: ASEAN and Non-Interference: A Principle Maintained; Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol.22., Issue 1. (2000), pp. 60-88.; or John Funston: ASEAN and the Principle of Non-Intervention – Practice and Prospects ISEAS, 2000, Singapore

[13] See also Roda Mushkat: Globalization and the International Environmental Legal Response: The Asian Context; in: ASIAN-PACIFIC LAW & POLICY JOURNAL, Vol.4, Issue 1 (Winter 2003) pp.49-81.

[14] See infra note 35.

[15] The ASEAN Environmental Year 2003 entitled “Together Towards Sustainable Development”.

[16] This ASEP is different from the organization of Asian Society for Environmental Protection (ASEP), which was formed in 1984 at Bangkok by a group of Asian environmental professionals to exchange information on environmental technology.

[17] The AEGE was established under the aegis of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST).

[18] As it appears also in the Manila Declaration infra note 18.

[19]The following ASEAN declarations, resolutions and agreements are available at http://www.asiansec.org/view.asp?file=/function/agrenv81.htm website.

[20] According to its dimension, Singapore wasn’t creating national reserve.

[21] The Bangkok Declaration says: ”that these agencies have now accomplished the important step in defining their missions, in gaining an understanding of how environment protection can feasibly be accomplished within the context of the socio –cultural and patterns of the initiating programmes aimed at implementing feasible protection measures, and in developing national capabilities in environmental technology”.

[22] By noting of promotion cooperation between Governments, NGOs, Universities and Business Communities within the organization in the field of environmental management at the 8th article.

[23] Among other symptoms of public interest, for instance, in May 1991, close to 40 leading experts from South-East Asia gathered in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the international conference “Toward a Sustainable Environmental Future for the Southeast Asian Region”. The conference organized by the United Nations University with the aim of providing the opportunity to address some of the critical environmental concerns facing the region and to enhance the understanding of environmental issues related to development in the region. About the conference, see more at http://www.unu.edu address.

[24] The objectives are: to respond to specific recommendations of Agenda 21 requiring priority action in the organization; to introduce policy measures and promote institutional development that encourage the integration of environmental factors in all developmental processes both at the national and regional levels; to establish long term goals on environmental quality; to harmonize policy directions and enhance operational and technical cooperation on environmental matters, and undertake joint actions to address common environmental problems; and to study the implications of AFTA ( ASEAN Free Trade Area ) on the environment and take steps to integrate sound trade policies with sound environmental policies.

[25] The Cooperation Plan available at http://www.asean.or.id/function/env/plan.htm website.

[26] The Haze Technical Task Force, chaired by Indonesia, was retained in view of the need to continually adress the transboundary haze pollution, when at the ninth ASOEN Meeting in 1998 decided to restructure and streamline the original six ASOEN working group.

[27] There have been several large haze pollution in Southeast Asia since the early eighties – particularly during the dry seasons of 1982-83, 1987, 1991, 1994 and probably the largest in 1997-98, that have caused severe damage well beyond the destruction of forest, land and ecosystems. See also: Adelina Kamal: ASEAN’s Response Strategy in Addressing Transboundary Haze Pollution ASEAN Biodiversity, July – September 2001, pp. 11-14.

[28] See supra note 5.

[29] See Chalermpalanupap supra note 11.

[30] See Mushkat supra note 13.

[31] The goals of the second Plan include for instance: establishment of a Regional Research and Training Centre for Land and Forest Fire Management; promotion regional coordination for the protection of the Heritage Parks and Reserves; harmonization the environmental databases of the member countries; development a regional Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based and Sea-Based Activities, etc.

[32] Similar regional agreement has only been established in Europe, where in 1979 the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution was adopted. The UNEP praised the agreement as a potential model for tackling transboundary issues worldwide. (See also: http://www.haze-online.or.id/news.php/ID=20031201133530 website)

[33] ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, Part I, Article 2. 

[34] „The ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan 2000 – 2005 aims to empower people through formal and non-formal education, so that they can acquire the necessary values and skills that will enable them to participate in the development of an ecologically sustainable community.” Rodolfo c. Severino Jr. ex Secretary – General of ASEAN wrote this in the foreword of the Plan.

[35] In this respect, the Ministers supported Singapore’s offer to play a lead role in spearheading regional programmes on urban environment management and governance, particularly on sustainable cities. See also: Press Release of ASEAN Secretariat at: http://www.aseansec.org/13402.htm

[36] „The Community shall intensify cooperation in addressing problems associated with population growth, unemployment, environmental degradation and transboundary pollution as well as disaster management in the region to enable individual members to fully realize their development potentials and to enhance the mutual ASEAN spirit.” Declaration of ASEAN Concord II. Chapter C., point 6. The Concord avaible at: http://www.aseansec.org/15159.htm

[37] The text of the Resolution available at: http://www.aseansec.org/15522.htm

[38] The Convetion available at: http://www.biodiv.org/convention/articles.asp

[39] Southeast Asia Subregional Report for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Appendix 4; p. 71, available at:  http://www.adb.org/Documents/Reports/SEA_WSSD/default.asp website.

[40] Koh Kheng Lian and Nicholas A. Robinson: Regional Environmental Governance: Examining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Model (in: Global Environmental Governance, Options & Opportunities, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 2002; p. 104)

[41] Indonesian word for regional decision-making practice: a solution unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives.   

[42] Alan K. J. Tan: Reconciling Environmental and Developmental Imperatives in Singapore and Cross-Border Environmental Protection in ASEAN  in: Papers of International Law Conference on ASEAN Legal Systems and Regional Integration, Asia-Europe Institute, University of  Malaya, 3-4 September 2001, Malaysia at: http://www.asia-europe-institute.org/Events/International-Law-Conference/Papers adress.

[43] It was issued in 1998 to begin implementing ASEAN Vision 2020 through specific objectives and strategies for the period 1999-2004.

[44]There are three: Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (chaired by the Philippines); Working Group on Marine and Coastal Environment (chaired by Thailand) and Working Group on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (chaired by Malaysia). And, as I mentioned supra note 25, there is also the Haze Technical Force in a same level.

[45] The Global Change Impacts Centre for Southeast Asia (IC-SEA) is the first regional centre in the developing regions established to assess the impacts of global change, and their implications for the sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems. IC-SEA's mission is to develop the capacity of the Southeast Asian region for sustainable development under global change.

[46] The mission of the Haze Prevention Group is to work to reduce and, if and whenever possible, eliminate the forest and plantation fires as well as the forest and plantation burnings. Haze Prevention Group is an Indonesian based foundation open to companies and organizations with a commitment and determination to actively participate in the work to mitigate the haze emanating from the vegetation burnings and wildfires in Indonesia.

[47] The East Asia and Pacific Environmental Initiative (EAPEI) was established to address critical environmental challenges and opportunities in the areas of forest and land use management, coastal and marine resources management and environmental pollution. The EAPEI is the legal successor of the Southeast Asia Environmental Initiative (SEA-EI), a one-year program focused fire and smoke tragedy of 1998.

[48] See infra note 65.

[49] The five that share the Mekong River: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

[50] Cited from The GMS Program in Brief available at http://www.adb.org/Documents/Brochures/GMS/gms1.asp 

[51] About the projects and other programs, see also: Building on Success: A Strategic Framework for the Next Ten Years of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program ADB, 2002 November, Manila

[52] See also: Greater Mekong Subregional meeting of Working Group on the Environment Journal of Environmental Protection No. 2., 1998, Ha Noi. Translated version at: http://www.vista.gov.vn/VistaEnglish/VistaWeb/anphamdientu/tapchitrong.../rfocu.ht

[53] About the Environmental Program of the MRC see: http://www.mrcmekong.org/programmes/ep/ep.htm

[54] See also: Nathan Badenoch: Mekong Regional Environmental Governance: Perspectives on Opportunities and Challenges WRI/REPSI, Chiang Mai, Thailand, October 2001

[55] The UNEP also has an East Asian Seas Regional Coordination Unit under its Regional Seas Program to coordinate an action-oriented program having concern for the consequences and causes of environmental degradation.  

[56] The PEMSEA members are: China, the two Korea and ASEAN members except Myanmar and Lao PDR. 

[57] Cited from the PEMSEA’s Mission. 

[58]Robert Prigle: Indonesia and the Philippines - American Interest in Island Southeast Asia Columbia University Press, New York, 1980, p. 224.

[59] Convention on Wetlands

[60] Convention on the control of the Transboundary Movements of hazardous Wastes and their Disposal

[61] Protocol on the Substances that Delete the Ozone Layer

[62] Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

[63] Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

[64] About the cooperation see also: Lyuba Zarsky and Jason Hunter: Environmental Cooperation at APEC: the First Five Years APEC Workshop Papers, available at: http://www.nautilus.org/papers/enviro/tepp/zarsky_hunter.html 

[65] About the background on ASEAN-EU environmental relations, see also in: http://www.asienhaus.org/eurasien

[66] The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was set up in 1966 to foster social and economic progress in the Asian and Pacific region, primarily by providing long-term funding and technical assistance for the implementation of projects in the developing countries of this region.

[67] About ADB environmental policy statement, see also in the following website: http://www.adb.org/documents/policies/environment

[68] See also in: http://www.roap.unep.org/index.htm

[69] SPREP is the intergovernmental organisation charged with promoting cooperation and supporting protection and improvement of the Pacific environment and ensuring its sustainable development.
Its members are the Governments and Administrations of 22 Pacific island countries and four developed countries with direct interests in the Pacific islands region.

[70] SACEP was set up in 1982 and to date eight countries have ratified its Articles of Association - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Its objective is to foster sub-regional cooperation in the areas of sustainable development.

[71] The principal objective of the NEASPEC is to promote subregional environmental cooperation and sustainable development efforts. The members are: China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

[72] SAARC was established in  1985 by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The state of the environment has been a major theme on the SAARC agenda from the early days of the Association and environmental protection is one of the areas of cooperation with the ASEAN.

[73] See also: Kenichi Imai: The Relationship Beetween the WTO and Regional Trade Agreements and Institutions on Trade and Environment in Asia, Publication of IGES, 2001.

2004/1. szám tartalomjegyzéke