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Political Science


Gary Prevost


Over the past two decades, concern for the environment has greatly increased. As the international community has come to understand the global repercussions of the environmental crisis, the need has grown for improved international cooperation. The United Nations provides a forum for the nations of the world to come together to discuss these issues but lacks the ability to enforce its decisions. In order to understand their role, my thesis goes through a critical analysis of the UN¹s role, looking specifically at the Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE), the World Commission on Environment and Development (UNCED) and finally at the role that non- governmental organizations (NGOs) play. Ecological thinking must become an inherent part of decision-making at all levels from local to international and can be facilitated by the United Nations who serves an important symbolic and consciousness-raising role. Due to the structures of international law and attitudinal barriers such as sovereign nations and anthropocentricism, the United Nations is unable to meet the expectations of a world that sees it as playing a central role. Therefore until these nations are willing to re-evaluate their willingness for cooperative efforts and become dedicated to finding harmony with nature, environmental solutions will continue to be fragmented.