УДК 341.24


Ермолина Марина Анатольевна
Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет
факультет международных отношений, кафедра мировой политики, кандидат юридических наук

В статье анализируются проблемы устойчивого развития с позиции современной общемировой политики. Автор сопоставляет приоритеты политики развитых и развивающихся стран, акцентируя внимание на проблемах достижения устойчивого развития. В работе делается вывод о том, что основой международной политики должно быть не только взаимовыгодное сотрудничество, но и взаимодействие государств.

Ключевые слова: глобализация, международное сотрудничество., окружающая среда, право на благоприятную окружающую среду, природные ресурсы, устойчивое развитие


Ermolina Marina Anatolievna
St. Petersburg State University
PhD in Jurisprudence Science, Associate Professor, School of International Relations

The article deals with the problems of sustainable development in terms of contempo-rary global politics. The author compares priorities in the policies of advanced and developing countries, focusing a reader’s attention to conceptual maxims of sustainable development. The paper concludes that it is not only a reciprocally beneficial cooperation that international policy should base upon but interaction of the states as well.

Keywords: a right for a healthy environment, ecological problems., environment, globalization, international cooperation, natural resources, sustainable development

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Ермолина М.А. Sustainable development concept in terms of law and contemporary global politics // Политика, государство и право. 2014. № 2 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://politika.snauka.ru/2014/02/1243 (дата обращения: 19.07.2023).

Since 1992, when the United Nations Conference on environment and development was held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and up till now the idea of sustainable development has been a subject of much controversy among scientists and politicians. In fact, this concept was based on holistic problems of ecological crisis and the biosphere’s inability to satisfy constantly increasing needs of a mankind. As a result, the countries participating in this conference backed up originally an idea of cutting down the rate of increase and consumption rate, keeping in view remote and vague ‘interests of generations to come‘ [2].

The sustainable development concept’s phenomenon, as well as its success, consisted in that the idea of sustainability was closely associated with social, economical and ecological aspects of international politics. A good combination of such components turned out to be both a political brand and a basis of ‘mutually beneficial’ international cooperation[5].

Later on, after the United Nations Conference on environment and development had been held in Rio de Janeiro (1992), the sustainable development concept became a fundamental footing of national strategies and programs. Principles of sustainable development in terms of ‘ecological prosperity and well-being’ [3] were incorporated into legislation by most of the countries participating in the Conference.

Ten years later admitted at the Summit in Johannesburg (RSA, 2002) was the fact that the goals formulated during the Conference in Rio were not achieved, although the countries participating in respective international treaties did accept, nevertheless, ‘collective responsibility’ for preserving the environment for the wellfare of the present and future generations. Yes, they did accept it, but would not dare to reconsider their policy in order to reveal actual possibilities and prospects of the world community on its further way towards sustainable future. Also at this conference it was intended to take up such matters as reduction of poverty, contribution to a social justice progress, and advisable environmental protection with due regard to a rate of population growth [4].

As it was summerised during the United Nations Conference on sustainable development held in Rio de Janeiro (2012), sustainability concept should be treated in connection with globalization and other processes and phenomena that aggravated recently. Yet, talking about priorities of their national politics the leaders of the states

often seem ‘to forget’ that a problem of economical growth is typical of both the advanced and developing countries. Thus, in their past the now-developed countries used to exploit actively the natural resources and contaminated much the environment by industrial waste and wastewater. It was only when they had to face a real ecological threat that these countries indeed became seriously ‘worried’.

Again, local autorities in Western Europe and USA took alarm about reforestation problem only when some 95% of the plants had been cut down. As for the problems concerning specially protected areas, these emerged only when no other territories, except for the pristine areas which ‘no man hardly ever set his foot on’, were left.

It is understood that regenerated tree plantations will never gain such size and quality as original forests, just as man-made water projects will fail to become an ecosystem’s basis, and the animals raised under a man’s supervision will never yield a good enough litter, nor will they afterwards live normally in the wild.

In the recent years the developing countries were just the first to really feel the aftereffects of excessive impact upon the environment, i.e. disastrous environment pollution, depletion of natural resources, poverty, increase of sickness and death rates. In the meantime an acess to water resources is by no means a problem of developing countries only. As follows from a prediction of United Nations experts, by the year of 2025 some two thirds of the Planet’s mankind will face a problem of shortage in water [5].

As one of the USA experts stated, the mankind nowadays lives in a total disharmony with Nature, sticking to the maxim ‘we don’t need Nature, it’s only economics that matters’. The economic growth that we observe is realized by consuming nonrenewable stock of mineral resources. As soon as the land, natural resources, forests and fauna, etc. became ‘an object for ownership’, there came a right to buy and sell them, hence – to use them at one’s discretion. And the Nature gets nothing in return. The consequences of such unwise politics are hardly predictable and so the time comes when the Nature gives its response in the form of crises and catastrophes. Thus, floods occur in those regions where farming and forest cutting are being done improperly. Burning of hydrocarbon products leads to changes in a climate, entails serious diseases, etc. Each year some 50-55 thousand species of animals dissapear. Large corporations dispose of about 5 million gallons (22,5 million litres) of waste into the World ocean annually. The World ocean undergoes a crises, for we take too much bioresources from it and dump too much waste into it. The developing countries’ territories turn into sites for accumulating dangerous wastes. And again, it must be kept in mind that economics is nothing else but only a subsystem of biosphere, and while the economics grows the biosphere does not expand, remaining the same.

Meanwhile, the world economics advances faster and faster, thus setting the environment protection problems aside for the ‘generations to come’ in a literal sense of the word. One may thus think that the leaders of advanced states still lack full understanding of the global size and importance of sustainable development problems in terms of current world political processes and phenomena.

Now, in the time of global challenges and threats, it becomes obvious that just declaring to stick to the ideas of sustainable development will be surely not enough. No wonder, a slogan appealing for ‘a political will and a value of law‘, as it is pronounced in increasing frequency by high-rank speakers, calls for comprehension.

As Hugo Grotius, a known Dutch lawer and political scientist, said once, ‘questions of law and justice‘ are subject matters that a science of laws deals with, whereas a science of politics analyses ‘advisability and benefit‘ [1]. These notions are of particular importance nowadays, and it is a pity that highly ranked persons engaged in international relations seem to fail to keep in memory that law and politics are very closely interrelated. First priority issues of international sustainable development concept, namely: a human’s right for a healthy environment and well-balanced social and economical development, apply to both advanced and developing countries.

It was noted in a so-called ‘Agenda for the 21st century’, as it had been approved already by the First Conference in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and had been otherwise called a ‘basic program document for the future‘ – that to put a model of sustainable development into effective functioning not only a reciprocally beneficial international cooperation is needed, but a good interaction of the states as well. Conclusion was also formulated that, should we disregard remote ecological consequences, there would hardly be any good sense in achieving sustainable development by economic progress in some particular countries.

The document titled ‘The Future that we need’ [6], which was approved by the Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, enables somehow to reconsider and formulate more definitely the major vectors of foreign policy in terms of sustainable development. On the eve of RIO+20 Conference Ban Ki-moon, a UN General Secretary, has drawn the following unambigious conclusion: ‘putting the problems of sustainable development on the agenda is the same thing as to take up the problem of economic growth on the agenda for the 21st century’ [6]. Such agenda is meant to settle, although very generally, such problems as unemployment, more clean power engineering, higher level of safety and higher adequate living standards for all the people, at least in the nearest future.

But will such good intentions be attained, or will they end up in just another disappointment? For we know that a major burden of responsibility will still lie with national governments whose activities are restricted within the confines of their national jurisdiction and control.

  1. Irkhin, Y.V. (1999) Politics, morality and law: their interrelation // Bulletin of Russian University of Peoples’ Friendship. Series: Politology. Nr. 1, pp. 7-15.
  2. Koptug, V.A. (1992) The environment and development of world economics // Proceedings of International Hands-On And Scientific Conference (June 1992, Rio de Janeiro). Novosibirsk, SORAN.
  3. The problems in developing the economics and society / M.A. Ermolina, I.V. Kirianov, E.D. Kochegarova, et al. (2013) – Saint Louis, MO: Publishing House “Science & Innovation Center” (St. Lous, Missouri, USA).
  4. Social and humanitarian problems of the present: politics, social medium, language and culture / M.A. Ermolina, A.I. Kargamanova, E.V. Matveeva [et al.] (2012) Krasnoyarsk: Science & Innovation Center. P. 7.
  5. Stetsko, E.V. (2011) Sustainable development as a political brand // Urgent problems in world politics in the 21st century: Collected articles / Edited by V.S. Yagya, M.L. Lagutina. – SPb: St. Petersburg State University, pp. 392-402.
  6. The Future that we need. URL: http://www.un.org/ru/sustainablefuture/brochure.pdf

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