Better governance for international waters

2 min read

We actively seek pro bono matters that help protect the earth's natural resources. This is a very important part of our work.

Jacquelyn MacLennan, partner and global pro bono practice lead, Brussels

We recently researched key issues on the conservation and sustainable use of the maritime environment in areas beyond any national jurisdiction. Working with Islands First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small island nations engage at the UN to protect the earth’s climate and oceans, a team of ten lawyers and legal staff in three offices analyzed existing legal frameworks and current procedural and funding mechanisms addressing environmentally harmful events in these areas.

"We actively seek pro bono matters that help protect the earth's natural resources," says Brussels partner and Global Pro Bono Practice Leader Jacquelyn MacLennan."This is a very important part of our work."

We identified a number of options for closing the gap in the existing legal framework, such as the creation of a state- or commission-centered framework, where the responsibilities of supervision, enforcement and compliance rest with state parties or a commission—or a hybrid framework where states are responsible for primary obligations and the commission is charged with administrative duties. We also explored cases of emergency situations and suggested that consideration should be given to the creation of an international organization or commission with the power to enact broad procedural mechanisms for emergency situations in areas beyond national jurisdictions.

In addition, we provided an overview of existing treaties that deal with responsibility and liability for various types of environmental harm, as well as existing dispute settlement mechanisms and forums, and concluded that existing mechanisms are available but stronger procedures for dispute settlements could be considered.

The work was done to support Islands First ahead of the fourth meeting of the preparatory committee for the development of an international, legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea supporting the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The right of migrants

Our lawyers are working with two global nonprofits to help ensure the rights of migrants are respected.

In a project for the Right to Education Initiative (RTE), 18 lawyers and legal staff across 11 offices compiled and analyzed national law, policies and case law related to the education of migrating groups in ten host countries. Our work will help RTE, which promotes education as a human right, identify and share best practices in expanding access to education for migrants.

For Kids Empowerment, which works to ensure nations comply with international laws on the rights of children, 70 lawyers and legal staff across 19 offices are compiling best practices across 35 countries on the legal frameworks affecting migrant children crossing international borders in transit and reception countries. Our work will be used in a comparative analysis and serve as a basis to advocate for changes in the reform of the Dublin Regulations.



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