compliance, ACCORDING TO the American Heritage Dictionary, is: "the act of complying with a wish, request, or demand; or acquiescence." In medicine, it is the willingness to follow a prescribed course of treatment. Generally, it is a disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others. In a machine, compliance is the extension or displacement of a loaded structure per unit load, or flexibility. In reference to the climate system as defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), all the above meanings of compliance are relevant. The climate system is the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, and their interactions. Consequently, changes in the climate may have implications for the full range of human life.
In the context of law, compliance is sometimes referred to as conformity, where compliance is the intended outcome of law. Being out of compliance usually carries legal consequences that are provided for by the applicable rules. For example, the UNFCCC and the related Kyoto Protocol provide rules that are referred to in identifying compliance. Compliance is facilitated, promoted, and enforced by the appropriate authority that is specified and authorized to do so in the regulatory regime. In the case of international law, applicability of the regulatory regime is complicated and determined initially by voluntary commitment of a sovereign state. Only parties to the Kyoto Protocol would then be bound by the terms of its agreement and the compliance mechanism.
the kyoto protocol
In the Kyoto Protocol, as with many regulatory regimes, the compliance mechanism has multiple functions. It is intended to reinforce provisions in the protocol that are designed to address environmental integrity. It also enables the operation of the market for carbon, including the emissions-trading system envisioned by the protocol. A third function is to address and improve the transparency of accounting procedures used by the parties. The implementation of the legal regime relies on strong and effective compliance systems, processes, and enforcement.
To achieve compliance, the Kyoto legal regime uses a two-pronged approach in its organization. These components are the branch that facilitates compliance, and the branch that metes out consequences for those who remain out of compliance. The first is known as the facilitative branch, and the second as the enforcement branch. The decision to adopt a compliance regime to facilitate, promote, and enforce the protocol's commitments was made in October/November 2001 at COP 7 (Conference of the Parties 7), also known as the Mar-rakesh Accords. The text of the procedures and mechanisms related to the compliance was adopted by decision 24/CP.7 at the same COP 7 meeting.
Not all compliance mechanisms include a facili-tative branch. Compliance mechanisms that do not include an enforcement component may rely on other methods to achieve compliance. These include a party's interest in membership in a group, altruistic interests, or social or peer pressure. Participation in the Kyoto Protocol is first an example of an interest in compliance with the practices in the international community, and not the result of the actions of a facilitative or an enforcement branch.
Whether facilitative or enforcement or otherwise structured, where compliance is through organized mechanisms, it requires procedural rules. Such rules may be provided in regulations included with the enabling legislation or agreements. As required by Article 18 of the Kyoto Protocol, the procedures and mechanisms to determine and address cases of non-compliance were adopted by the COP at their first meeting. The rules of procedure for the Compliance Committee were submitted and approved by the COP at their second meeting in November 2006. At the international and the national levels, critical issues in compliance mechanisms include the identification of specific consequences of non-compliance, as well as the membership of applicable decision-making bodies.
As with regulation, legal compliance within the jurisdiction of sovereign states is a domestic matter. Within a domestic sovereign state, compliance is relative to the particular regulatory regime. Compliance with planning regulations could refer to whether the regulations themselves comply with planning rules, and whether particular parties are in compliance with the planning regulations. In a more fundamental regulatory context such as constitutional law, the discussion would need to consider if the constitution is in compliance with the intentions of the population. At that point, compliance between the legal and political realms is significant and determinative in the formulation of policy, and will be accorded some interpretive consideration in judicial processes.
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