Clearer rules needed on cross-border pollution, say experts at conference

A motorcyclist and his rider braving the haze in Dumai in Indonesia’s Riau province on July 22, 2013. Clearer international rules on pollution that crosses national borders are needed and states should join forces to enforce and comply with polluti
A motorcyclist and his rider braving the haze in Dumai in Indonesia’s Riau province on July 22, 2013. Clearer international rules on pollution that crosses national borders are needed and states should join forces to enforce and comply with pollution standards and regulations, said experts at the close of a conference on transboundary pollution. -- ST FILE PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Clearer international rules on pollution that crosses national borders are needed and states should join forces to enforce and comply with pollution standards and regulations, said experts at the close of a conference on transboundary pollution.

The two-day event at the Orchard Hotel, which ended on Friday, was convened by the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore.

It was organised to discuss the evolving rules and principles of international environmental law. It also aimed to raise awareness in the region about the rights and responsibilities under international law when it comes to transboundary pollution.

Some 100 academics and officials attended the conference.

Professor S Jayakumar, chairman of the centre's international advisory panel, said in his closing remarks: "There remain some gaps in international environmental law on some aspects of transboundary pollution. For example, there is a need for clearer international rules and regulations applicable to transboundary air pollution and offshore activities."

Effective institutions and strong cooperation mechanisms are needed to solve transboundary pollution problems, he added.

In particular, experts discussed the limitations of transboundary haze pollution laws and cooperation mechanisms. For instance, Indonesia has not yet ratified a 2002 Asean agreement to combat haze.

Singapore is proposing a new Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill that would hold firms liable for haze that affects Singapore.

The centre is working to publish papers presented at the conference, Prof Jayakumar said. Its other books have been on topics such as legal frameworks around the South China Sea, settlement of a land reclamation case between Singapore and Malaysia, and law and policy governing submarine cables.

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