Northern NGOs, southern NGOs and international environmental law: The common interest of humankind is the interest of northern mankind!

31 August 2009

States need to address global environmental problems that threaten humankind. Sovereign states, however, seem ill equipped to find solutions to counter global environmental degradation. It is in this regard important to take cognisance of the proliferation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which actively participate in the field of global environmental matters. International NGOs are not constrained by sovereignty and state interest. The question that accordingly arises is whether international NGOs present a solution to global environmental problems. Are NGOs the hope of humankind in this regard? Can they pursue solutions to ensure the survival of mankind? It is the main aim of this article to present answers to the above questions. Thus, the first part of this article examines the challenges that global environmental problems in a state centred system pose. The second part of this article briefly defines NGOs, introduces the different types of NGOs as well as the roles that they fulfil in international environmental law. The third part follows a critical southern approach in order to determine whether NGOs can truly pursue a global agenda. The last part of this article generates proposals to the problems presented in this article.