Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The marine environment has unique characteristics that distinguish it from other elements of nature. Since seas and oceans cover more than two-thirds of the earth, they play a vital role in achieving biological and climatic balance on the planet. The marine environment also plays an important role in human life, since it has plenty of nutritious and industrial resources that directly affect human welfare. It also contains huge amounts of oil and natural gas, which has played a role in the economic prosperity of the world. Moreover, seas are considered a source of freshwater through resorting to desalination of seawater in countries that suffer from a shortage of freshwater resources. In addition, the marine environment is considered an important source of food for human beings and other living organisms.

Kuwait's interest in protecting the marine environment started earlier than that of other Gulf States. In 1964, Kuwait enacted a law preventing pollution of navigable waters by oil. This law is deemed the first law to protect the marine environment from the negative effect arising from the activities of exploration, extraction, and exportation of oil, which began to increase in the 1950s. Moreover, Kuwait's efforts aimed to protect the environment were not limited to the issuance of environmental laws at the national level. In fact, Kuwait played a leading role at the regional level of marine environmental conservation, as well. In the 1960s, Kuwait urged and encouraged the states overlooking the Arabian Gulf to ratify a regional convention aimed at cooperating in the protection of the marine environment of the Arabian Gulf (later called The Kuwait Convention of 1978). The Kuwait Convention (1978) reflected awareness of the importance of co-operation and co-ordination of action on a regional basis with the aim to protect the marine environment of the region for the benefit of all concerned of its members. This convention was considered the first regional convention on the protection of the marine environment in the Middle East. It contained many important provisions for the protection of the marine environment applicable until now. Kuwait did not only execute the convention, but it continued its efforts to establish a regional organization consisting of the Kuwait convention members. The main duty of the organization is to ensure the valid execution of the provisions of the Kuwait Convention. This organization is located in the State of Kuwait and is named The Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME).

Since 1979, and despite the political problems and wars that occurred among the members of the organization, ROPME succeeded in overcoming these obstacles. This success is attributed to the fact that the ROPME has focused its efforts on urging its members to work on combating environmental pollution, protecting the marine environment of the Arabian Gulf, and avoiding discussion of the political issues.