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LCIL Friday Lecture: Unconventional Lawmaking in the Offshore Energy Sector: Flexibilities and Weaknesses of the International Legal Framework - Prof Seline Trevisanut, Utrecht University
Offshore exploitation of oil and gas started in the 1930’s and thousands of installations are distributed around the world. Offshore installations threaten the environment, not only when it comes to oil spills, which are most visible but admittedly rare, but also in relation to their contribution to marine debris, pollution by dumping and greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore installations, in the energy sector and beyond, is one of the maritime economic activities that has not yet been comprehensively regulated at the global level. The relevant international legal framework consists of a plethora of instruments adopted at the global, regional and supranational level, which have developed in different institutional settings and following different formats. The result is that, first, there is no specialised framework convention and consequently, the legal framework is fragmented at the sectoral, institutional, geographical and issue-related level. Second, the legal framework is weak because of the non-binding nature of many of the instruments that are the outcome of unconventional lawmaking processes. Third, the lawmaking processes in this field seem to be industry-led because of the important role the industry plays in unconventional lawmaking, both within and outside conventional fora.

While unconventional lawmaking processes guarantee flexibility and the needed timeliness of regulatory efforts for a sector in continuous development and expansion, they do not necessarily allow for safeguarding or constructing the coherence of the legal framework. Moreover, the processes might be abused to push forward the agenda of the strongest actors, at the expense of global commons such as the marine environment and climate. In order to support these submissions, the present chapter will proceed in four steps.

May 7, 2021 01:00 PM in London

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