Toxic trade: E-waste disposal and environmental governance in West Africa

Hector, Michael (2017-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The following research aims to approach the illicit e-waste trade from a transnational environmental crime perspective. The study of environmental crime is one that is defined in various ways. This study defines environmental crime as a crime which violates existing national and international law, has identifiable negative consequences (health and environmental); and that the consequences are a result of human action(s). This study also makes use of the concept of Environmental Governance, which is defined as being regulatory processes, organizations, rules, laws and international state and non-state organizations whose political and economic actions influence the environment and the global environmental regime. Here focus is placed on multinational environmental agreements (MEAs), with attention being paid to international regulations (in the form of the Basel Convention) and national regulations (in the form of e-waste specific legislation) in both Ghana and Nigeria. This study also pays attention to the relationship between the global North (developed) and the global South (developing) using the concept of Global Political Economy (GPE). It is argued that the trade in hazardous waste and more specifically e-waste is more complex than the notion that the global North is dumping hazardous wastes in the global South. This study is likewise focused on the position that the global South occupies within the international environmental regime and how this regime has provided the global South with a platform to challenge Northern dominance. This thesis is particularly concerned with the actors involved in the illicit e-waste trade in West Africa. The research question is thus: Who are the main actors in facilitating the illicit e-waste trade to and within West Africa? The mapping of the actors involved in this illicit trade is done using a waste cycle presented by Massari & Monzini (2004). West Africa was chosen as a case study and sites within Ghana and Nigeria act as focus areas due to the prominence and noticeable effects of e-waste disposal within these West African states. Here it is argued that these states act as facilitators in the illicit e-waste trade due to the ease with which international and national regulations are exploited for personal gain and due to the absence of political will, financial and human capital, and enforcement capacity. This analysis allows for the research question to be answered. The mapping of the actors involved in the illicit e-waste trade likewise provides information to suggest that the trade in illicit e-waste is one that requires increased attention and that the dumping of hazardous wastes is an issue that is more complex than the notion that the global South is being exploited by the global North, but that the global South is party to its own victimization.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Die navorsing poog om die onwettige e-afvalhandel vanuit 'n transnasionale omgewingsmisdaad-perspektief te benader. Die studie van omgewingsmisdaad is een wat op verskillende maniere omskryf word. Hierdie studie definieer omgewingsmisdaad as 'n misdaad wat die bestaande nasionale en internasionale reg oortree, identifiseerbare negatiewe gevolge (gesondheid en omgewing) het; en dat die gevolge 'n resultaat van menslike aksie(s). Hierdie studie maak ook gebruik van die konsep Omgewingsbestuur, wat gedefinieer word as regulatoriese prosesse, organisasies, reëls, wette en internasionale staats- en nie-staatsorganisasies wie se politieke en ekonomiese optrede die omgewing en die globale omgewingstelsel beïnvloed. Hier word fokus geplaas op multinasionale omgewingsooreenkomste (MOO’s), waar aandag geskenk word aan internasionale regulasies (in die vorm van die Basel Konvensie) en nasionale regulasies (in die vorm van e-afval spesifieke wetgewing) in beide Ghana en Nigerië. Hierdie studie gee ook aandag aan die verhouding tussen die globale Noorde (ontwikkelde) en die globale Suide (ontwikkelende) met gebruik van die konsep Globale Politieke Ekonomie (GPE). Daar word aangevoer dat die handel in gevaarlike afval en meer spesifiek e-afval meer ingewikkeld is as die idee dat die globale Noorde gevaarlike afval in die globale Suide stort. Hierdie studie is ook gefokus op die posisie wat die globale Suide binne die internasionale omgewingsregime beklee en hoe hierdie regime die globale Suide 'n platform bied om die Noordelike dominansie uit te daag. Hierdie tesis is veral gemoeid met die akteurs wat by die onwettige e-afvalhandel in Wes-Afrika betrokke is. Die navorsingsvraag is dus: Wie is die hoofakteurs in die fasilitering van die onwettige e-afvalhandel na en binne Wes-Afrika? Die kartering van die akteurs wat by hierdie onwettige handel betrokke is word gedoen met behulp van 'n afvalsiklus wat deur Massari & Monzini (2004) aangebied word. Wes-Afrika is as gevallestudie gekies en plekke in Ghana en Nigerië dien as fokusareas as gevolg van die prominente en merkbare gevolge van e-afvalverwydering binne hierdie Wes-Afrikaanse state. Hier word aangevoer dat hierdie state as fasiliteerders optree in die onwettige e-afvalhandel as gevolg van die gemak waarmee internasionale en nasionale regulasies vir persoonlike gewin uitgebuit word en as gevolg van die afwesigheid van politieke wil, finansiële en menslike kapitaal, en handhawing kapasiteit. Hierdie analise laat toe dat die navorsingsvraag beantwoord word. Die kartering van die akteurs wat betrokke is by die onwettige e-afvalhandel verskaf ook inligting om te suggereer dat die handel in onwettige e-afval meer aandag vereis en dat die storting van gevaarlike afval 'n komplekser probleem is as die idee dat die globale Suide uitgebuit word deur die globale Noorde, maar dat die globale Suide in party is tot sy eie viktimisering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102841
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