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Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

Third world states and #uid sovereignty:

development options and the politics of
sustainable ocean management
Marian A.L. Miller*
Department of Political Science, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-1904, USA


As land resources become exhausted or less valuable, Third World states are integrating
coastal and marine regions into their development strategies. Given current industrial practice,
increased development in these regions have negative environmental consequences, and there is
increasing pressure to address these. Third World states' management of their marine and
coastal areas is shaped by factors such as fugitive resources, changing or indeterminate marine
boundaries, economic vulnerability and evolving environmental regimes. These factors contrib-
ute to #uid sovereignty and a!ect states' ability to exercise authority, autonomy and control.
This paper uses the case of the Wider Caribbean Region to illustrate that the net result of #uid
sovereignty is diminished ability to sustainably manage ocean and coastal resources.  2000
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Third World states have become increasingly dependent on ocean resources for
inputs to their development process or as sinks for wastes. As land resources are
exhausted, or as they become less valuable, more coastal states are turning to the
oceans for additional development options. The provisions of the 1982 United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) increase their options in this
area, since it recognizes national control over extended o!shore areas and resources.
At the same time, it emphasizes the importance of international cooperation and

* Tel.: #1-330-972-8060.
E-mail address: (M.A.L. Miller).

0964-5691/00/$ - see front matter  2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 6 4 - 5 6 9 1 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 7 2 - 1
236 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

harmonization of policies in the e!ort to sustainably manage the world's oceans. The
incorporation of marine and coastal elements into their development strategies
presents Third World states with the challenge of cooperating with others to ensure
sustainable ocean management.
The UNCLOS negotiations were substantially shaped by the Third World push for
a New International Economic Order. One consequence of this is Part XI of the
Convention, which established the International Seabed Authority, with broad dis-
cretionary powers to regulate deep-seabed mining and ensure that non-mining states
would bene"t from resources extracted from the deep sea-bed. The United States and
some of its allies were unhappy with Part XI, and these concerns have been addressed
by the 1994 agreement which limits the powers of the Authority. This change will
e!ectively reduce the in#uence that Third World countries could potentially exercise
through the Authority. This change was made more palatable for them by the
realization that deep seabed mining is unlikely to be a major income earner for anyone
in the short or medium term.
Third World countries' immediate concern is to integrate marine regions into their
development strategies in other ways, for example, through "sheries, tourism, and
coastal or near-shore industrial development. These states must make ocean policy in
a #uid context of fugitive resources, changing or indeterminate boundaries, economic
vulnerability and evolving environmental regimes. These factors a!ect their ability to
exercise authority, autonomy and control as they attempt to develop and manage their
coastal and maritime resources. Consequently, as they plan their maritime policy, they
operate in a situation of #uid sovereignty. Some elements of this #uid sovereignty
might expand states' opportunities to manage and sustainably develop their ocean
resources; other aspects signi"cantly restrain their options. This paper argues that the
net result of their #uid sovereignty is diminished ability to sustainably manage ocean
resources. This is illustrated by examining the Wider Caribbean Region, and the
evolution of its protocol for addressing land-based sources of marine pollution.
As a group, the Third World states of the Wider Caribbean Region bear enough
similarities to the larger group of Third World states to serve as a relevant case study.
The structural issues in the region mirror those in the global context. Regime
development involves a few powerful industrialized states and a larger group of Third
World states. Beyond those general similarities, the Third World states of the region
re#ect the heterogeneity of the Third World group, as a whole. This heterogeneity is
re#ected in many areas, including colonial history, economic development, political
and legal systems and physical make-up. Caribbean Third World states have been
in#uenced by a variety of current and past colonial powers including the United
States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Spain. An examination of their
economic development shows a wide range in terms of wealth, industrial pro"le, and
levels of urbanization. Similar variety is clear with regard to their political systems,
and countries can be located at various points along the continuum from democracy

 Agreement Relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea of 10 December 1982. Reproduced in 33 International Legal Materials 1309}1327 (1994).
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 237

to authoritarianism. Additionally, there are signi"cant physical di!erences among

them in terms of size and geography. Consequently, the Caribbean experience regard-
ing sustainable ocean management should prove relevant to the larger Third World

2. Fluid sovereignty and the Third World

The concept of sovereignty is integral to our understanding of how a state exercises

political power. Sovereignty refers to the state's legal right to determine the norms of
behavior and conditions of life within it [1]. A state's ability to exercise that legal right
is conditioned on whether it can wield the necessary authority, autonomy and control.
The theory and practice of state authority is closely related to the evolution of the
theory of the state. That theory was strongly in#uenced by Roman legal doctrine,
which grounded law in the political community [2]. This perspective in#uenced
Machiavelli, who saw the state as an organization possessing the requisite force to
ensure the security of persons and property. While Machiavelli did not o!er a theory
of political absolutism regarding the state, for theorists like Bodin and Hobbes, the
state had the right to exercise supreme authority within a particular territory or
society [3]. In e!ect, not all states can exercise equal authority. And they are all ceding
some of their authority to actors such as global regimes.
There are also signi"cant changes to the degree of autonomy states exercise. States'
ability to regulate their industries or to e!ectively address environmental issues
unilaterally continue to decrease. But, for the most part, states are not being passively
acted upon; they are active participants in this process of change, with the level and
kind of participation varying between the major industrialized countries and the
Third World countries and within each of these groups. One consequence of this
decreased autonomy is that sovereignty is no longer as closely tied to the state. While
sovereignty remains a feature of the state system, it is also now located in a variety of
institutional arenas, such as legal regimes, and new supranational organizations such
as the World Trade Organization and the European Union [4]. These institutions
constrain state autonomy, with the constraints being more severe for Third World
There have been similar changes with regard to the exercise of state control. The
primary function of a sovereign state is the organization and control of geographic
space [3, pp. 24, 25]. States have always attempted to exercise economic and social
control within their territories. To support its economic function, the sovereign state
developed a complex system of legal rights and political guarantees. Essential to
maintaining the legitimacy of the prevailing order is the ability to resolve or moderate
con#icts among divergent interests [3, p. 26]. Increasingly, states are faced with trying
to respond to and control environmental challenges. This complicates their legitima-
tion function, because it presents them with a new arena in which they have to mediate
among stakeholders with con#icting perceptions of the costs and bene"ts of environ-
mental management. In a period of rapid economic change and signi"cant environ-
mental challenge, states have developed legal and administrative controls intended to
238 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

minimize the disruption to the political and social order. But the global dimensions of
economic activities and environmental processes mean that the individual state has
signi"cantly less ability to ensure speci"c conditions within its territory.
Clearly, even for the most powerful states, sovereignty is being recon"gured by
a variety of forces, including the increasing mobility of goods, information, and
people; new transnational associations and global markets; the proliferation of practi-
ces a!ecting the global environment; and the establishment of international and
global regimes. In these changing circumstances, states might be willing to cooperate
and collaborate to retain some elements of sovereignty. As a result, they make
sovereignty bargains where they trade o! reduced authority, autonomy or control in
one area for increased authority, autonomy or control in another area [5]. This
recon"guration of sovereignty occurs for all states, from the weakest to the most
powerful. But states' e!ective sovereignty varies because some governments are less
able to exercise authority, autonomy, and control. For structural reasons, Third
World states have experienced greater changes in the practice of sovereignty [6].
The concept of #uid sovereignty captures the shifting nature of the elements that are
working to shape how Third World states exercise sovereignty in their ocean manage-
ment policy. It describes a variety of factors or dimensions that strengthen or weaken
state sovereignty. These dimensions are dynamic and their relative in#uence varies
with time and circumstance. There are four dimensions to #uid sovereignty: fugitive
resources; changing or indeterminate maritime boundaries; economic vulnerability;
and the evolving maritime regime. Individually, and as a group, they a!ect the
practice of sovereignty. The "rst three dimensions also help set the physical, political
and economic context for regime evolution. They a!ect the nature and pace of regime
development, and they act in concert with the evolving regime to shape how Third
World states exercise sovereignty.

2.1. Fugitive resources

The oceans make up a commons where any user can subtract from the welfare of
the other users. Some maritime resources have a shifting, #uid nature. Ocean waters
move around the globe, drawn by surface and deep water currents. As a result,
pollution entering the oceans or the atmosphere might emerge primarily as a trans-
boundary issue close to its source, or it might emerge as a signi"cant commons
problem, a!ecting ocean health in areas thousands of miles away. The mobility of
maritime resources, like "sheries, can also complicate resource management. Again,
the problem can be seen as transboundary, or a more encompassing commons issue.
Some "sheries are coastal, some are straddling stocks, and others are migratory.
Because of the nature of the marine commons, no state can have complete control
over the condition of the water and other resources in its territorial sea and exclusive
economic zone.
Consequently, e!ective state sovereignty is being modi"ed by these commons and
transboundary environmental problems. E!ective management of a particular mari-
time issue might require the cooperation of a small group of states or of the world
community of nations. Cooperation often involves the ceding of some authority by
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 239

state actors. Clearly, a state can no longer ensure the well-being of its citizens by
focusing only on issues within its own boundaries, and it may no longer be allowed to
engage in activities within its own jurisdiction with impunity, if those activities are
seen as detrimental to the well-being of other states.

2.2. Changing or indeterminate maritime boundaries

Since `the historical roots of the institution of sovereignty are in the conception of
exclusive property rightsa [7], the demarcation of maritime boundaries has implica-
tions for the practice of sovereignty. UNCLOS has established the nature and extent
of jurisdiction that states can exercise o! their coasts, establishing a 12-mile territorial
sea, and 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). As a result, coastal states have
principal authority over living and non-living resources and environmental protection
in the EEZ. UNCLOS also recognized that archipelagic states can draw straight
baselines connecting the outermost parts of their outermost islands, and claim the
waters within the baselines as their archipelagic waters. In theory, the boundaries
indicate states' rights and responsibilities within particular areas, but the extent of
responsibility is not always clear. Some states have not yet declared 200-mile EEZs,
and some have declared boundaries that are contested by neighboring states. Ex-
tended maritime boundaries provide some states with a larger domain in which to
exercise authority and control, but this is sometimes thwarted by issues of contested
and indeterminate boundaries.

2.3. Economic vulnerability

Economic actors and processes have a more signi"cant impact on Third World
states than on the major industrialized states because of the structural inequality that
characterizes the world system. This structural trait is illustrated by political inequal-
ity, an unequal distribution of wealth and asymmetrical economic dependence. These
states' vulnerability is exacerbated by the neoliberal policies that drive institutions
such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.
Increasingly, the global economy is rendering the concept of a national economy
meaningless. Buyers, sellers, and investors can ignore national policies and undermine
a country's capacity to ensure a particular social and economic order [6, p. 174]. For
example, a state's use of the interest rate as a policy tool is rendered di$cult because of
the rise of global "nancial markets that enable funds to pour in and out of individual
economies at will. Electronic activity has functioned to move greater segments of the
economy outside of the control of states. For example, transaction speed and volume
in the foreign currency market have left most central banks incapable of in#uencing
exchange rates. The recent crises in Asia and Latin America have demonstrated that
the central banks of Third World states are more vulnerable than those of major
industrialized states such as the United States and Germany.
Transnational corporations also e!ectively reduce states' control. Since transna-
tional corporations control the bulk of world trade and investments, they retain
e!ective means of reducing Third World states' options in policy areas such as
240 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

industry and environment [6, p. 174]. They wield the economic power and political
in#uence needed to encourage or impose corporate-friendly policies.
International organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, the Interna-
tional Monetary Fund, and the World Bank also undercut states' authority and
control, but Third World states are particularly vulnerable. These organizations
re#ect the structural advantage of the industrialized states, and they provide avenues
for intrusion into the economic life of developing countries, as decisions at the
international level diminish states' control over their economies and decrease their
development options.

2.4. The evolving maritime regime

Developing countries' sovereignty is likely to be further recon"gured by the evolv-

ing maritime regime. International regimes modify the norms and practices of state
sovereignty, since states collaborate to form social institutions [8] that govern their
actions. This collaboration involves a ceding of some authority to the regimes and
shifts in autonomy and control in certain policy areas. States might enter a sover-
eignty bargain in order to enhance some elements of sovereignty, even if it might mean
a reduction of sovereignty in other areas. For example, a state might be willing to cede
some authority and autonomy to the regime, in order to ensure some control over the
health of marine ecosystems. Regime provisions recon"gure authority, autonomy and
control for all states. However, the nature of environmental issues, as well as the
structural position of the states, can mean a di!erence in how e!ective sovereignty is
recon"gured for industrialized states and for Third World states.

3. The case of the Wider Caribbean Region

The Wider Caribbean Region is de"ned by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of
Mexico. Twenty-"ve states fall within this region. Except for the United States, they
are Third World states. France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom also
participate in regional management regimes on behalf of their territories or depend-
encies. Most of the littoral states and territories in the region are small islands.
Because of this, their well-being is profoundly integrated with the health of their
coastal and ocean environment. The Caribbean coastal zone contains biologically

 The 25 states are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba,
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico,
Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname,
Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America and Venezuela.
 France participates on behalf of its overseas departments, French Guyana, Guadeloupe, and Mar-
tinique. The Netherlands participates on behalf of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. The United
Kingdom participates on behalf of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks
and Caicos Islands. The United States, which participates on its own behalf, also participates on behalf of
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 241

complex ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and
coastal lagoons. These are important economic and environmental resources because
they provide food, shelter and nurseries for commercially valuable "shes and crusta-
ceans. They also protect harbors and bays and limit coastal erosion. For these states,
the oceans o!er an increasingly attractive arena for economic development. While the
common recognition of coastal states' exclusive economic zones has broadened this
arena, it has also increased states' responsibility in terms of management and conser-
vation [9].

3.1. Land-based marine pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region

Globally, land-based sources account for about 77% of all marine pollution [10],
and these sources also generate the bulk of the marine pollution in the Wider
Caribbean Region. Many of the source activities are integral to the regional states'
development strategy. This, therefore, is an important area to explore as we examine
how the Third World states of the region address sustainable ocean management.
Economically important land-based activities, such as agriculture, industrial-
ization, coastal settlements, and mass tourism result in a variety of pollutants,
including sewage, sediment, hydrocarbons and solid waste. They reach the marine
environment through waterborne, airborne and direct discharges.
Agricultural practice often includes the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and their use
is increasing in the region [11]. When these are carried to the sea in runo!, they
damage or kill marine #ora and fauna. Erosion caused by agricultural activities in the
coastal areas or river-basin watersheds also increase the deposit of sediments in the
Industrialization also has signi"cant environmental consequences for the ocean,
since it can involve the deforestation and erosion of coastal areas, the generation of
solid waste, dredging and mining, and the increased use of hydrocarbons. The
byproducts or consequences of these activities cause serious ecological damage to the
marine environment.
The tourism industry raises similar concerns. It is a major economic sector,
accounting for more than 20% of the gross domestic product of several states and
territories. But tourism is associated with a variety of environmental costs. Inappro-
priately sited hotels, marinas, airports, roads, restaurants and casinos cause coastline
destabilization, coastal siltation, beach erosion, and the destruction of coral reefs and
mangroves. Hotels contribute to pollution with untreated or inadequately treated
sewage, and a variety of recreational uses add to the accumulation of plastics and
other trash in the near-shore and coastal areas.
Urbanization and increased coastal settlement also stress coastal ecosystems,
resulting in the generation of solid waste and sewage, and the destruction of

 But for some states and territories, tourism contributes far more than 20% of GDP. For example, it
contributes about 60% of Antigua and Barbuda's GDP, 55% for the Bahamas and 50% for the Turks and
Caicos Islands, see [12].
242 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

such important habitats as coral reefs, mangroves and lagoons. Discharges into
the atmosphere of vehicle exhaust and sprayed chemicals are also precipitated into
the sea.
One signi"cant coastal and marine pollutant generated by many of these activi-
ties is sewage. Less than 10% of the population along the Caribbean basin is
served with any form of sewage treatment. In addition, the Caribbean Environmental
Health Institute has found that many of the sewage and solid waste disposal plants
in the Wider Caribbean operate at a substandard level [13]. The coastal population
in the region continues to grow, thus increasing the amounts of poorly treated
or untreated sewage waste waters being discharged into the sea, polluting the
water and contaminating the "sh. The sewage problem is complicated by the practice
of discharging industrial waste water into the domestic waste water stream. The
nutrients and pollutants cause long-term damage to the ecology of critical coastal
Part of this pollutant load is moved along by the general east}west surface
circulation patterns. There are some exceptions to this general pattern. For example,
gyres along the coasts of Panama, Colombia and Venezuela produce a west-to-east
inshore drift, and there are eastward moving back eddies in parts of the Greater
Antilles [14].

3.2. Environmental management regimes for the Caribbean

In order to address the marine pollution problem, regional states are in the process
of negotiating a series of sovereignty bargains. This involves a ceding of some
authority over some decisions in domestic policy areas such as agriculture and
industry, in return for some control over the health of the marine and coastal
The nature of the marine environment and the increasing pressure on marine and
coastal spaces demand an integrated approach, and UNCLOS is the "rst major step
in this direction. It entered into force in November of 1994, and it provides a frame-
work for related global instruments and for regional agreements to protect the oceans.
Degradation of the region's marine environment is being addressed by the develop-
ment of laws and institutions under the United Nations Environment Programme's
(UNEP's) Caribbean Environment Programme. Its major legal instrument is the
Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the
Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention), which was adopted in 1983. This
framework convention is comprehensive in scope. Its general purpose is to prevent,
reduce and control pollution of the Convention area and to ensure sound environ-
mental management [15]. It entered into force in 1986, and has been rati"ed by most
of the littoral states. The metropolitan states with interests in the area are also
signatories. Protocols are being designed to support the Cartagena Convention. The
"rst of these was the Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Combating Oil Spills in the

 Twenty states have rati"ed the Convention.

M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 243

Wider Caribbean Region. Like the Convention, this protocol entered into force in
The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider
Caribbean Region (SPAW protocol) was adopted in January 1990, and its annexes
adopted in June 1991. It will enter into force after rati"cation by nine contracting
parties. It requires that states establish and maintain protected areas within their own
jurisdiction [16]. More than 100 legally established marine protected areas predate
the protocol, but many of them have no budget, sta!, management plan, or institu-
tional support.
A protocol on land-based sources of marine pollution (LBSMP protocol) is being
developed. Negotiation of this protocol has been a priority for the region since the
adoption of the Cartagena Convention in 1983. The process has been di$cult, but the
protocol is scheduled for "nalization and adoption in the fall of 1999.

3.3. The institutional mechanisms

The formulation and implementation of the Cartagena Convention and its proto-
cols depend on the institutional mechanisms developed by the Caribbean Environ-
ment Programme. The Programme's Action Plan was adopted in 1981, "ve years
prior to the coming into force of the Cartagena Convention. In 1987, the decision was
made to recognize the Convention as the legal framework of the Action Plan, and to
designate the Action Plan as the instrument for the implementation of the Conven-
tion. The Action Plan's operational success depends on institutional mechanisms,
such as the intergovernmental and contracting parties meetings; the Monitoring
Committee; the Caribbean Trust Fund; and the Regional Coordinating Unit.
This is an institutionally complex structure since the Action Plan serves both the
broader interests of the Caribbean Environment Programme, as well as the speci"c
needs of the Cartagena Convention. Some participants in the Programme have not
yet acceded to the Cartagena Convention. Intergovernmental Meetings can include
all the states participating in the Caribbean Environment Programme, while the
Contracting Parties Meetings include only parties to the Cartagena Convention. But
because the Action Plan serves a dual purpose, joint Intergovernmental and Contract-
ing Parties Meetings are held. The Monitoring Committee provides operational
policy guidance between Intergovernmental Meetings [18].
The Programme's basic funding source is the Caribbean Trust Fund, which receives
contributions from the constituent states and territories. The objectives of the Action
Plan have also been supported by funding from a variety of other sources, including
other UN agencies, other international organizations, governments, and nongover-
nmental organizations [19]. In recent years, contributors have included extra-re-
gional governments such as Sweden and Canada [20}22], and private sources such as

 A revised "rst draft was completed in 1996 (see [17]). This has been revised as the negotiation process
continues. The most recent draft [18] can be accessed at
244 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

the MacArthur Foundation [23] and the Rockefeller Foundation [24]. Resources
have also been augmented by proceeds from a debt-for-nature swap [25] and from
the Global Environment Facility (GEF) [26]. The Action Plan is also partially
funded by national counterpart contributions to projects implemented at the national
level. Counterpart contributions represented about 62% of the resources available for
the 1990}1995 period [27]. However, since counterpart contributions are usually
contributions in kind or in local currency, the declared value is often in#ated [28].
Coordination among all the Programme's institutional units is the primary responsib-
ility of the Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU), which is responsible for program
development, project coordination, and administration [29]. The RCU is located in
Kingston, Jamaica.
Until a recent reorganization, the Caribbean Environmental Programme was made
up of "ve regional sub-programs:
E Integrated planning and institutional development for the management of marine
and coastal resources (IPID).
E Specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW).
E Information systems for the management of marine and coastal resources (CEP-
E Assessment and control of marine pollution (CEPPOL).
E Education, training and public awareness for the appropriate management of
marine and coastal resources (ETA).
In December 1996, at the eighth intergovernmental meeting on the Action Plan for the
Caribbean Environment Programme, the decision was made to streamline the Pro-
gramme and merge the CEPPOL and IPID sub-programs [30]. The merged sub-
programs are now referred to as the assessment and management of environmental
pollution (AMEP) Programme. AMEP's activities are crucial to the development of
the land-based sources protocol.

3.4. The land-based sources protocol

The land-based sources protocol is an important one to examine because, if

implemented, it would have a more signi"cant impact on development options than

 The foundation provided US$300,000 to support the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Pro-
gramme at the University of the West Indies. The regional program will measure ecological variables
a!ecting various marine habitats, and it will also provide training for scientists in the region. The
foundation has also provided US$250,000 to the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental
Studies (CERMES) for a regional teacher training program.
 In this instance [24], in August 1991, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a workshop on resource
management. The workshop was organized by the Consortium of Caribbean Universities for Natural
Resource Management.
 Resources from a debt-for-nature swap were used for the management of the Montego Bay Marine
 In 1994, the GEF earmarked US$2.5 million for the studies of four heavily contaminated bays in the
Wider Caribbean.
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 245

would any of the other protocols. Negotiation of a protocol addressing land-based

sources of marine pollution has been on the region's environmental agenda since the
adoption of the Cartagena Convention in 1983, but serious work on its development
did not begin until the early 1990s. The process has been di$cult, and the several
changes in the target date for "nalization and adoption re#ect this. The new target
date is September 27 to October 6, 1999 [31]. An e!ective land-based sources protocol
will mean the ceding of signi"cant authority and control by individual states as they
make economic policy and land use decisions; this has no doubt a!ected the pace of
the negotiations. This protocol will deal with pollution from point sources as well as
non-point sources, and it will have source speci"c annexes. The "rst two will address
domestic wastewater and agricultural non-point sources of pollution [32].
Before the establishment of AMEP, CEPPOL and IPID were the programs of
greatest importance for the development of the land-based marine pollution protocol.
The CEPPOL sub-program's long-term objective was to provide regional govern-
ments with the information required for establishing and enforcing pollution control
and reduction measures. Its tasks also included supporting governments' e!orts to
implement global and regional laws addressing the marine environment, as well as
strengthening national and regional institutions [33]. In the 1990}95 period, CEP-
POL's major short-term goal was the formulation of a protocol on land-based sources
of marine pollution. Supporting objectives included the identi"cation of major marine
and coastal pollutants, the establishment of speci"c standards, and the development
of investment plans to address the major pollution problems [34].
In the course of collecting baseline data, CEPPOL identi"ed six sub-regions within
the Wider Caribbean Region for the purposes of analyzing the distribution of
pollution loads. These subregions are shown in Fig. 1. Sub-region I includes Cuba,
Mexico and the United States. The United States is the major source of marine
pollution in this sub-region. In 1983, the United States and Mexico concluded an
agreement to address transboundary marine pollution. Sub-region II includes the
states of the Western Caribbean. In this region Guatemala and Honduras are the
main sources of pollution. This sub-region is of particular ecological interest because
it contains the most extensive coral reef ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. The
Northeastern and Central Caribbean make up Sub-region III. Here the major source
states are Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Sub-region IV, the Eastern Caribbean,
has the largest number of states, but it contributes a smaller waste volume than do
Sub-regions I}III and V. Guadeloupe and Martinique are the major waste con-
tributors in this subregion. In the Southern Caribbean states of Sub-region V,
Colombia and Venezuela are the primary sources. Venezuela and Trinidad & Tobago
already have a bilateral agreement on marine pollution. Finally, in Sub-region VI
which contains French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname, Guyana contributes the
largest share of marine pollutants [14, pp. 92}109].

 The 1983 Mexico}United States Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement of
the Environment in the Border Area.
 Since CEPPOL had limited data for Subregion VI, comparisons could not be made with that region.
246 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

Fig. 1. Sub-regions in the Wider Caribbean Region.

Considerable monitoring and research were done, but the program did not achieve
its major short-term objective of "nalizing the protocol on land-based sources of
marine pollution by 1995. A number of explanations have been o!ered for the
long-drawn-out process. One complicating factor is the complex regional map of
pollution sources, types and impacts. Available data indicate a mix of common pool,
transboundary, and local problems. There are large di!erences among the states' and
territories' contributions to marine pollution. For example, the United States is the
source of about 40% of the oil and grease entering the marine region. There also
seems to be signi"cant di!erences regarding pollution impact across the region. By far,
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 247

the most serious damage caused by e%uent from land-based sources occurs locally,
within the territorial sea or the exclusive economic zone of the source state. Most
land-based marine pollutants are not transported far from their sources of discharge.
Monitoring and research indicate that in some areas transboundary pollution is
primarily con"ned to border areas [14, pp. 31}36]. As a result, not all of the regional
states perceive similar costs from the pollution problem or the same degree of
potential bene"ts from the solution. This has consequences for the kind of sovereignty
bargain that individual states may "nd attractive. Because of these di!erences, some
analysts suggest that a sub-regional approach might be the most e!ective means of
addressing this pollution problem [14]. The development of the land-based sources
protocol has also been hampered by a lack of consensus among the countries on
a range of issues, including whether the source-speci"c annexes should have time-
tables for action [35]. CEPPOL's work has also experienced institutional constraints,
including inadequate participation and commitment by participating countries, un-
realistic time-frames, and inadequate funding [36].
IPID played a supporting role in the protocol development process. Its focus was
on regional and national development of legislative, administrative, policy, and
technological measures, as well as increased coordination among national and re-
gional institutions [37]. IPID's work was therefore crucial to the implementation of
the protocols. Included in its short-term objectives for the 1990}1995 period were
plans for the establishment of `national institutions and policies re#ecting a coherent
integrated approach for the e!ective management of marine and coastal resourcesa
[38] in at least half of the participating states and territories. IPID's work has also run
signi"cantly behind schedule. But this work is crucial, since e!ective implementation
of the Cartagena Convention's protocols will depend on the actions of each govern-
ment to develop and implement national legislation and create relevant institutions.
Now that the CEPPOL and IPID programs have merged into AMEP, the AMEP
Sub-Programme is overseeing the assessment and management of environmental
pollution, as predicated by the evolving land-based sources protocol.

4. Fluid sovereignty in the Wider Caribbean Region

This examination of the Caribbean Environment Programme illustrates that Third

World states in the Wider Caribbean Region experience all the factors that contribute
to #uid sovereignty: they deal with fugitive resources; many have new or indetermi-
nate boundaries; their options are constrained by the global economic context; and
the bene"ts of the evolving regime are as yet uncertain. As the following discussion
shows, together these factors substantially modify their authority, autonomy and

4.1. Fugitive resources

In the Wider Caribbean Region, pollutants such as sewage, sediments, hydrocar-

bons and solid waste are deposited by waterborne, airborne or direct discharges into
248 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

the oceans. Oil re"neries constitute the most signi"cant source of industrial pollution
in the region, contributing approximately 70% of the total biological oxygen demand
(BOD) load and more than 80% of the total oil and grease discharged from industrial
point sources. BOD and total suspended solids (TSS) represent the two largest
pollutant loads entering the marine environment from point sources [11]. The coastal
and marine environment of the north of South America (sub-region V) and the Gulf of
Mexico (sub-region I) receive the largest pollutant loads [11]. The general eastward
motion of the currents means that one state's pollutants may end up in the territorial
sea or EEZ of another state. Essentially, this reduces the capacity of individual states
to ensure the health of their waters or other resources, such as "sh and coral reefs.

4.2. Changing or indeterminate maritime boundaries

Except for two small areas in the Gulf of Mexico, there are no high seas in the Wider
Caribbean Region [14, p. 1]. Although several important international boundaries
have been agreed upon, the majority are still undecided. Maritime boundaries in the
Gulf of Mexico and between countries of Central and South America have been
determined, but only a few of the boundaries in the Caribbean archipelago have been
settled. The few that have been determined include those between the following states:
Colombia and Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela; St. Lucia and France
(for Martinique); Dominica and France (for Martinique); the United States of America
(for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) and Venezuela; and France (for Mar-
tinique and Guadeloupe) and Venezuela. More than 90 delimitation agreements still
have to be concluded [39]. Many of the region's states declared a 200-mile EEZ in the
period between 1975 and 1992. But no such declarations have yet been made for
Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat,
Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama and Turks and Caicos Islands [14, p. 133].
Implicit in a declaration of a 200-mile economic zone is an acceptance of the
responsibility of its management. However, the many undetermined and undeclared
boundaries have compounded the problem of jurisdictional uses and complicated the
exercise of authority and control.

4.3. Economic vulnerability

Like Third World states in general, those in the Wider Caribbean Region have their
sovereignty compromised by the nature of the world economy. It has undermined
their ability to ensure a particular economic and environmental order for their
citizens. This economic context a!ects the regional states' marine management strat-
egies in three ways: it increases the pressure to earn foreign exchange; it slows the
transfer to cleaner production practices; and it limits the resources available to
mitigate existing damage.

 This is based on the location of both actual boundaries and hypothetical boundaries. The hypothetical
boundaries are based on approximate equidistant boundaries.
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 249

Development strategy for the Third World Caribbean states is largely determined
by the global economy. Their development strategy is generally a mix of pre-
independence practice and reaction to an adverse economic environment which
includes changing investment patterns, declining terms of trade and unstable curren-
cies. Debt burdens have placed many states under the in#uence of the International
Monetary Fund, and they are under pressure to increase exports and earn foreign
exchange. This often involves increased exploitation of natural resources or greater
investment in polluting industries. For example, countries that depend on agricultural
production for crucial foreign exchange resources are increasing their use of fertilizers
and pesticides. Increased fertilizer use means that greater amounts of nutrients such as
nitrogen and phosphorus enter the coastal and marine environment, causing eu-
trophication. A study of 17 regional states indicates that average annual fertilizer use
increased by 31% over the 1979 to 1989 period. Only four states decreased their use of
fertilizer [40]. In addition, the extensive use of pesticides has resulted in damage to
non-target species in the coastal and marine environment [41]. Whether the export
category is agricultural or industrial, the ocean often becomes the ultimate sink for
wastes. The six industrial categories producing the largest pollution loads are oil
re"neries, sugar factories and distilleries, food processing operations, the manufacture
of beer, liquor and soft drinks, pulp and paper factories, and chemical industries [42].
Even tourism ends up damaging the environment, as coastline development destroys
ecosystems and habitats and increases sedimentation.
Limited "nancial resources continue to constrain regime development, impeding
progress at the national and regional levels. Most of the parties are years behind in
their contributions to the Caribbean Trust Fund, which is supposed to provide base
funding for the Caribbean Environment Programme. In addition, the United Nations'
"nancial problems have resulted in the reduction, postponement and delay of several
projects [43]. The result is a marked dependence on the developed state parties and
external sources for project funds [44]. Yet developed state parties have not always
been reliable sources of funds. The regime has not been an issue of high salience for the
United States, and that may be because that country can address most of its marine
and coastal environmental problems within the region with unilateral and bilateral
measures. In fact, the United States did not make its "rst contribution to the
Caribbean Trust Fund until 1990, seven years after the fund became operational [39,
p. 32]. Given the "nancial constraints in the region, it is not surprising that the funders
are playing a signi"cant role in the shaping of the regime.

4.4. The evolving regime

Fugitive resources, changing or indeterminate boundaries, and the economic vul-

nerability of the region's Third World states have helped to set the physical, political
and economic context for regime evolution. Fugitive resources help underline the

 The four states showing decreases are Barbados, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA (Gulf Coast
250 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

need for a management plan, and boundary issues, particulary regarding EEZs, have
the potential to complicate regime formation. But, as the previous section shows, the
global economic context and the regional states' economic vulnerability continue to
play a major role in slowing the regime's evolution. Regime evolution has also been
complicated by institutional problems at the national level.
The Caribbean Environment Programme has established a regional institutional
infrastructure, but the translation of these institutions to the national level will be
a major challenge. Many regional states lack coordinated regulatory and institutional
systems. Some have decades-old environmental legislation that is inapplicable to their
present circumstances. Others are reluctant to pay the perceived political cost of
implementing environmental enactments. For many states, environmental legislation
is a fragmented array of enactments, administered by a variety of government
departments [9, p. 42]. In the absence of institutional change at the national level, the
rati"cation of regional and global instruments will mean little in real terms. The
region's heterogeneity has slowed the development of coherent regional institutions.
There is great variety among the countries in terms of culture, language, political
systems, geographic size and economic development, and these di!erences a!ect their
willingness to cooperate and their ability to contribute scienti"c, technical and
"nancial resources.
The work of the Caribbean Environment Programme is also complicated by the need
to satisfy the interests of both the contracting and the non-contracting parties to the
Cartagena Convention. This has created a coordination problem that is unlikely to be
satisfactorily resolved until all the eligible states are parties to the Convention [9, p. 43].
The success of a regional program is heavily dependent on the political commit-
ment of the member states and their citizens. Relevant to the slow pace of institutional
change is the fact that the environment is not yet a "rst-order concern for many of
these states and territories. Unlike the Baltic and North Sea regional programs, which
were internally motivated, the Caribbean program was primarily a result of UNEP
Initiatives [14, p. 117]. While citizens do react when their interests are threatened by
either environmental degradation or environmental protection measures, in much of
the Caribbean, the environment is not yet a political issue. National and local
elections do not hinge on the resolution of environment-related matters. Six eligible
states have yet to sign or ratify the Cartagena Convention. Unless a sense of urgency
and concern is translated into political commitment at the community, state and
regional levels, the institutional arrangements are unlikely to be e!ective.
Where the pollution issue has become so salient that it needs to be addressed, states
have taken unilateral and bilateral measures. For many states the issue has become
salient when important economic interests are threatened by environmental degrada-
tion. For example, in some states that are dependent on coastal tourism, the states or
other actors have moved to address some of these coastal and marine environmental

 Cartagena Convention and Protocols Status Page,

tstatus.html, accessed July 21, 1999. The status page, updated May 27, 1999, indicates that the Bahamas,
Belize, Guyana, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis and Suriname have neither signed nor rati"ed the convention.
M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253 251

concerns in a piecemeal fashion. To the extent that they can acquire resources, they
take measures such as establishing marine protected areas and improving sewage
treatment. For example, Jamaica's Montego Bay Marine Park, which o$cially
opened in 1992, is being managed with funds from a debt-for-nature swap. And both
Barbados and Costa Rica have secured loans from the International Development
Bank to improve their sewerage systems [11, p. 40]. Some bilateral measures pre-date
the Cartagena Convention. One early agreement was that in 1942, between the United
Kingdom and Venezuela, with regard to the area now controlled by Trinidad and
Tobago [45]. The objective was to prevent the contamination of the navigable waters
of the foreshore by oil, mud or any other #uid. Since 1976, there have been at least 13
bilateral pacts on maritime delimitation, requiring that contracting states take
measures to prohibit and prevent pollution of the marine environment [39, p. 127].
At this stage of its evolution, the land-based sources protocol does not have
a signi"cant impact on states' e!ective sovereignty. But that would change if the
protocol were adopted and implemented. While an e!ective land-based protocol
would reduce regional states' autonomy and authority, in exchange, it would also
enhance their control by ensuring their ability to provide a certain environmental
order. But any gain in e!ective sovereignty depends on the implementation of an
e!ective protocol. And that is unlikely in the face of the low level of political
commitment, limited "nancial resources and continuing institutional constraints.

5. Conclusion

The case of the Wider Caribbean Region is illustrative of the problems faced by
Third World states as they operate in a context of #uid sovereignty. Many of their
economies are increasingly dependent on the exploitation of natural resources and
investment in polluting industries. In the pressure to increase foreign exchange and
meet structural adjustment commitments, coastal and marine resources are being
used more intensively. Real and potential damage to the marine environment is
resulting in pressure on Third World states to cooperate in sustainable ocean manage-
ment at the global, regional and subregional levels.
As these states make policy to develop and manage their marine resources, they
operate in a physical, political and economic context substantially de"ned by fugitive
resources, changing or indeterminate boundaries and economic vulnerability. These
factors help shape regime evolution and act in concert with the evolving regime to
determine the e!ective sovereignty that can be exercised by these states. In theory,
a regime for sustainable ocean management should mitigate some loss of sovereignty.
Although states cede some authority and control to the regime, they gain some
control over their environmental order. But the Caribbean example suggests that in
the absence of substantial state commitment, signi"cant institutional change at the
national level, and changed economic circumstances, regime development is primarily
symbolic. State commitment might increase if public pressure or economic interests
raise the salience of the issue for littoral states. And increased salience is likely to drive
institutional change. But the economic issues will remain. Financial resources are
252 M.A.L. Miller / Ocean & Coastal Management 43 (2000) 235}253

needed not just for the research and institutional development that is a part of regime
evolution, but also to o!er developing countries the option of selecting cleaner and
less environmentally destructive production processes. This matter cannot be e!ec-
tively addressed in isolation from issues of structural inequality and neoliberal
economic doctrine. Even clean production processes can prove to be environmentally
destructive if debt service and adverse terms of trade continue to force industrial
expansion. And the prevailing neoliberal perspective discourages the internalizing of
environmental costs. In fact, the logic of global capitalism acts as a check on the
success of environmental regimes.
Third World marine and coastal management options are constrained by #uid
sovereignty. In the absence of changes to the structure of the global economy,
environmental regimes will have limited e!ectiveness, and sovereignty bargains will
not enhance states' control over their environment. Third World states will continue
to "nd that the net result of their #uid sovereignty is a diminished ability to
sustainably manage their coastal and marine resources.


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