States’ Obligations under International Environmental Law: Case of Kenya’s Devolved Governance System and Montreal Protocol
Mokeira, Nyangeri Rose
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Multilateral environmental agreements are negotiated by state actors to address different aspects of the environmental concerns affecting them. Systems of governance within these party states greatly influence treaty ratification, domestication, and compliance processes. This study first sought to; establish the environmental challenges Kenya faces that necessitated the ratification of the Montreal Protocol. Secondly, determine Kenya’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol as part of the International Environmental Law. Thirdly, analyse the role and responsibilities of the Devolved governance system in Kenya’s compliance with the Montreal Protocol. The institutionalism theory lent voice to the study as it illustrated how both domestic and international structures influenced state behaviour in addressing their national interests. Since the main aim of the Montreal Protocol is the eradication of Ozone-depleting substances, common components in the agricultural sector, Kericho County was selected to represent the 47 counties of Kenya. This was due to its standing as one of Kenya’s agricultural and upcoming industrial hubs. The researcher used the embedded research design, with a target population, that included the public, legislators, judges, and officials from the county, national and global levels identified through purposive, snowballing, and voluntary response non-probability sampling techniques. The study utilized questionnaires, interviews, and a review of official documents as key instruments in the data collection process. These instruments provided room for triangulation to support the study’s reliability and validity aspects. Data analysis was done using the computer software Nvivo. This study discovered that Kenya’s environmental challenges are exacerbated by actors within the sectors. This was evidenced by rampant air and water pollution by industries. Additionally, the widespread lack of awareness of international obligations posed a challenge to Kenya’s compliance efforts. Kenya still a has demand for refrigeration and air conditioning units that contain ozone-depleting substances as ozone-friendly technologies are more expensive. Lastly, environmental mandates and roles often overlapped and/or conflicted derailing the already strained cooperation between the two tiers of the government. The study recommends that the insufficient public education and cooperation between the two tiers and arms of government findings can be used as a basis for capacity building on environmental management. Additionally, the identified gaps in policy formulation processes call to question Kenya’s prioritization of environmental management projects. Finally, there is a need to establish necessary environmental management structures such as clear institutional mandates, policies, and programs, as well as enhance resource allocation to the environment docket. The study concludes that the environment should not be devolved as it is a transboundary concern that needs the central government to address. County governments, however, can be utilized in achieving Kenya’s domestic environmental goals and international obligations through public education, mobilization and capacity building.