Did you know that North Korea has a general environmental protection law?

220px-Flag_of_North_Korea.svgAs well as a full-blown environmental impact assessment law?  If you are not surprised, you should be.  After all, the “hermit kingdom” is not generally associated with the rule of law.  But it is true.  North Korea’s general environmental protection law dates to 1998 and its environmental impact assessment law to 2005.  Anyone dying to look this up can see it on the Kimchi Law Blog at https://kimchilaw.wordpress.com/north-korean-laws-2/ (scroll down to see item 45).  [Apparently, the author of the Kimchi Law Blog got his hands on a bound volume of North Korean laws and was kind enough to scan and upload it.]

For those unfamiliar with environmental impact assessment law, such laws generally create a duty for government agencies to study potential significant adverse environmental impact of a project proposal or other development activity before a license or some other government permission is granted.  The concept and legal duty is the bedrock of modern environmental law and was first created in the United States through the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.  It was thus also the first of the modern environmental laws, both in the U.S. and across the world.  Since then, the EIA duty and processes have been widely adopted across the world to such an extent that they are now nearly universal.

Of course, these laws don’t mean a heck of a lot when they are not implemented or enforced.  And that varies immensely across countries.  One can only guess as to how effective environmental laws are in North Korea.  One indication is that the requirements contained in the law appear to be quite general and generic.


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