Does the Smoke Haze Over South East Asia Violate International Law?
Once again, a haze of smoke has descended on Singapore, Malaysia, and other parts of South East Asia. The smoke originates in Indonesia where provincial governments have reportedly condoned (or turned a blind eye to) those deliberately lighting fires in order to clear vast amounts of land. This has happened nearly every year since 1997. It begs the question whether international law can be used to put a stop to it.
In this briefing, we explain how:
- States have an obligation under international law to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of pollution to neighbouring countries.
- Neighboring states, as well as private persons and entities, can pursue a claim under international law against a state for excessive pollution.
- International legal actions of the type considered in this note can be a positive force for change by encouraging a state to modify its behaviour to comply with international norms.