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The Nature of Law Newsletter, March 2011



March 2011

Message from the Chief Counsel

We welcome you to this first edition in 2011. Living up to tradition, the newsletter once again highlights recent developments and topical issues relevant to the general theme of sustainable development and environmental management. As readers may be aware, 2011 is the International Year of Forests, as declared by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 61/193 of 2007. The Year was formally launched on February 2, 2011, in a ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York, in the margins of the 9th Session of the UN Forum on Forests. The launch marked the start of a year-long series of events expected to culminate in high-level event at the Sixty-Sixth Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2011. Although we have not addressed this in a specific article in this newsletter, we flag its importance to our readership especially in view of the extensive role that the Bank has played in encouraging the sustainable management of forests. In the course of the year, we in LEGEN hope to play our part in the re-energized campaign in support of sustainable forest management as we have done in Bank operations where our expertise has been requested.

Victor Mosoti casts light on some of the Bank’s activities to help combat environmental crime and law enforcement. This is a growing area within the Bank’s portfolio in which the Legal Department continues to play an increasingly prominent role, whether it is in helping design national legal frameworks for effective law enforcement in the fisheries, forestry or wildlife sectors or in helping Bank management structure collaborative initiatives with other institutions with complementary mandates. Yuan Tao highlights one of the important outcomes of the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Cancún, Mexico, last year. A decision was adopted by 6th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that carbon capture and storage in geological formations may someday be  eligible as project activities under the clean development mechanism, provided important and rigorous criteria can be met. In his article, Giovanni Bo discusses a recent advisory opinion delivered by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea on the responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the seabed and subsoil beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (known as the “Area”). This decision has potentially far-reaching implications on exploration activities in the Area as it attempts to parcel responsibility and liability between sponsoring States and private or public operators engaged in deep sea prospecting. Julius Thaler's article places the recent border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in historical context and describes some of the jurisdictional questions raised in the application before the ICJ. Last but not least, Nina Eejima provides a thorough review of a fascinating book by one of our own alumnus Salman M.A. Salman, entitled The World Bank Policy for Projects on International Waterways, an Historical and Legal Analysis (2009).

We hope you enjoy this first edition of the year, and as always feel free to share your comments and suggestions.


Charles E. Di Leva
Chief Counsel, Climate Change, Sustainable Development and International Law

Alberto Ninio
Chief Counsel, Environmental and Social Safeguards


An Overview of Environmental Crimes in the Context of the Work of the World Bank
Victor Mosoti

For many years now, the World Bank has provided assistance to its members in natural resources management and law enforcement, especially in the forestry, fisheries and wildlife sectors. This note discusses three questions:  What is the Bank doing to combat environmental crimes? What lessons have we as a Bank learned over time? What kind of assistance may be expected from the Bank going forward? More   

First Step to Integrate Carbon Capture and Storage into the Clean Development Mechanism at UNFCCC COP 16
Yuan Tao 

CMP 6 adopted Decision “Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage in Geological Formations as Clean Development Mechanism Project Activities”,  where the CMP decided that carbon capture and storage (CCS) in geological formations is eligible as project activities under the clean development mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol, provided that the following issues are addressed and resolved in a satisfactory manner: non-permanence, including long-term permanence; measuring, reporting and verification; environmental impacts; project activity boundaries; international law; liability; the potential for perverse outcomes; safety; and insurance coverage and compensation for damages caused due to seepage or leakage. More 

Activities in the Seabed and Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction: The Responsibilities and Obligations of States and International Organizations
Giovanni Bo

On February 1, 2011, the Seabed Disputes Chamber, a separate judicial body within the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, issued a long-awaited advisory opinion on the responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the “Area”.  The Area comprises the seabed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, which no State can appropriate. Activities in the Area are regulated by the 1982 United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention, as well as regulations adopted by the International Seabed Authority. More 

You Don’t Want to Google Map it: Border Conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua 
Julius Martin Thaler

Does Google Maps have the power to ignite a border conflict? Following the headlines of the news media in late 2010, the casual reader might very well have come to the conclusion that the ongoing border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua has its roots in an erroneous map on Google Maps.  This note attempts to shed some light on the events leading to and legal implications emanating from a border dispute which reached its preliminary culmination on November 18, 2010, when Costa Rica instituted unilateral proceedings against Nicaragua at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and submitted an application for provisional measures. More 


Book Review

Going with the Flow or Swimming against the Current
Nina Eejima

In 1956, 10 years after the Bank began its operational work, it issued its first policy for projects on international waterways.  Subsequent versions were issued in 1965 and 1985.  The current policy is reflected in the Bank’s Operational Policy 7.50, Projects on International Waterways.  In many respects this policy has reflected international water law norms. But as Mr. Salman’s recent publication discusses, the policy has charted its own course, primarily due to the Bank’s unique role as an international financial cooperative institution. More


The Environment and International Law unit will be holding walk-in Seminars for World Bank staff during lunch time the last Wednesday of each month, from March through October 2011.  The clinics will center on a number of safeguards aspects which are recurrent in Bank projects.  The list of topics, with tentative dates, appears below.  As the dates approach, we will issue separate invitations for each of the seminars.  We welcome World Bank staff's participation in all these events and their suggestions for any future seminars. 

Safeguards Seminar 1
Speak Now or Forever Hold your Peace:  Consultations - Determining when consultation has been properly conducted, and what documents should support this.
March 30, 2011, 12:00 - 2:00 pm 

Safeguards Seminar 2  
In the Ring of Fire: The Role of the Country Lawyer in Inspection Panel Cases 
April 27, 2011, 12:00 - 2:00 pm

Safeguards Seminar 3  
Going with the Flow or Swimming Against the Current?  The Bank's Policy on International Waterways (OP 7.50) 
May 25, 2011, 12:00 - 2:00 pm

Safeguards Seminar 4  
Joined by the Hip: The Concepts of Linked/Related/Ancillary/Associated Activities in the Bank's Safeguards Policies? 
June 29, 2011

Safeguards Seminar 5
Show me the Money:  Eligibility and Compensation - What does the Bank policy on Involuntary Resettlement require? 
July 27, 2011

Safeguards Seminar 6  
Show me Everything: Disclosure, Safeguards and the Bank's Access to Information Policy
September 28, 2011

Safeguards Seminar 7  
Identity Crisis? Indigenous Peoples: An overview of how indigenous peoples are defined from region to region
October 26, 2011












The Environment and International Law Unit of the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency (LEGEN) provides advice to the Bank on all environmental and international legal and policy issues related to Bank-financed, implemented and/or supported projects.

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Last updated: 2011-03-08

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