Challenges of Compliance with Multilateral Environmental Agreements: the case of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Africa

Author(s): Kannan Ambalam

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Abstract: No crisis in world history has so clearly demonstrated the need for closer cooperation and mutual collaboration among States and the increasing interdependence of governments and other stakeholders as the contemporary global environmental crisis. Desertification is one of the serious environmental problems facing the humanity that brings about a gradual and an unnoticed reduction in the productive capacity of land over a period of years. To address the complex environmental problems, governments adopt the instruments of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). However, the existing gap between the increasing number of international, regional and national legal instruments and the continuous decline of environmental quality and deterioration of natural resources base around the world is perhaps one of the largest contradictions of this age.  This paper explores the challenges involved in compliance with MEAs particular reference to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Africa.  The UNCCD is a broader and comprehensive in nature. By linking a number of critical environmental concerns with socio-economic developmental challenges, this global treaty has become an important force in ensuring sustainable development in developing countries.  It focuses a large number of cross-cutting thematic areas to address not only the environmental problems but also sustainable development challenges including poverty, hunger and food insecurity in developing countries. Along with its broader coverage, the socio-economic background and technological advancement of African countries pose major challenges to effectively comply with this multilateral agreement.