Preliminary Data / Analysis
Highlights of Data
We used all of these methodological tools
in our pilot methodology to obtain data useful towards testing our hypotheses.
Please recall our hypotheses about the effectiveness of the citizen submission
Our interviews revealed that virtually none of the submitters linked their
participation in the Submission Process with increased environmental law
enforcement. As a result, our preliminary research seems to indicate that
neither the filing of a submission nor the publication of a factual record
leads to greater enforcement of environmental law. The interviewee whose
submission led to the publication of a Factual Record expressed the opinion
that the : Factual Record is useless!
We found that there was some media coverage for most of the specific environmental
issues brought up in the submissions and the factual record, but found
no relationship between media coverage and enhanced enforcement.
Various forms of government resistance, such as refusing to provide the
necessary information for the submission process, stalling, and the use
of the governments veto power appear to limit the effectiveness
of the process.
For our second question, please recall
that we hypothesized that the process should become less long and involved,
and should become easier to use.
Since the Process inception in 1996, there have been 35 submissions,
3 of which have lead to the publication of a factual record. All of the
submissions that led to the creation of a Factual Record were submitted
by coalitions of NGOs.
Although the literature stressed the user-friendliness of
the process, our interviews indicated, that this was not a major concern
for submitters. Regardless of the resources available to, and expertise
of the submitters, none indicated that the process was challenging to
The preliminary data indicates instead that the most challenging aspect
of using the process is the investment of time necessary. This time is
required to gather data in order to make the submission. Furthermore,
as was not indicated in the literature, respondents indicated that much
time was required to lobby the Secretariat once the submission was filed.
Our interviews and literature review also contributed findings about key
areas in which the process could become more effective.
This is a table indicating the key concerns about the CSP brought up in
the literature and in the interviews.
The literature indicated the following concerns, in no particular order:
- First, Toothlessness. This refers to the fact that the Factual Record
makes no sanctions, fines, or recommendations.
- Second. Timeliness. This refers to the fact that the processing of the
submission may at times be so lengthy that the environmental concern brought
up in the submission has become irreversible.
- Transparency. Much of the Process occurs behind closed doors.
- Autonomy of the Secretariat. This refers to the fact that the secretariat
is not independent from the Council.
- User-friendliness. This refers to the ability of the average citizen
to use the submission process.
Interviewee concerns, in no particular order were:
- Time investment of submitters for lobbying the Secretariat
- Government and Council (Scoping.) Scoping refers to the
ability of the Council to re-interpret the issue raised in a submission.
Many interviewees indicated that the Council reinterpreted their concerns
to make them much narrower.