Book Review: Environmental Laws of Mongolia

In International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES) Volume 3 Number 1(Summer 2002)
Peer-reviewed Article

Book Review "Environmental Laws of Mongolia" edited by the Ministry for the Environment, Mongolia.
Publisher information: "Orbis" Co., Ltd., 1997 (in Mongolian), 2,600 copies.

Reviewers: Batjargal Zamba, Embassy of Mongolia, Japan and Nachin Dashnyam, Visiting Researcher, Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia, Japan

An unfettered market economy, by definition, often leads to the exploitation of the environment and natural resources to a great extent. But in order to achieve balanced, sustainable development, nations also need to protect their environment through legal systems that regulate human activities. Mongolia has had to deal with just such challenges by implementing a number of laws with an environmental component. The majority of these were adopted over the last decade-a time during which the country underwent rapid political, social, and economic change.

In this book, Mongolia's Ministry for the Environment details sixteen environmentally-related laws of the country, published in Mongolian in their entirety as a guidebook for the country's government officers, state environmental inspectors, legal advisors, investors, business people, non-governmental organizations, and ordinary citizens. These environmental laws, based on the Constitution of Mongolia, have been enacted and implemented in accordance with the Law on Governmental Administration, and can be divided into four categories.
1. Laws pursuant to a framework of consensus, including the Law on Land, the Law on Protected Areas, and others.
2. The General Law on Environmental Protection, which includes other laws that govern certain natural resources, such as water, air, forests, wildlife, and natural plants, as well as laws to address other factors which have a direct impact on the environment (such as the Law on Toxic Chemicals).
3. Natural resource-use fees, designed to respond to the needs of a market economy.
4. Laws related to natural disaster matters, such as the Law on Forest and Grassland Fire Protection, etc.

The Mongolian Law on Environmental Protection (effective 5 June 1995) is designed to regulate interrelations between the state, citizens, economic entities, and organizations in order to guarantee the basic human right to live in a healthy and safe environment. This includes ecologically-balanced social and economic development, protection of the environment for present and future generations, the proper use of natural resources, and the restoration of damaged resources. The law starts with a description of items under legal protection, relevant definitions, provisions on environmental assessments, databanks, and research. The core of this law describes the plenary rights of the state organizations, local citizens' representatives, and governors on environmental protection and general measures on the protection, use, and restoration of natural resources. The rights and obligations of state inspectors, economic entities, and organizations for environmental and natural resources protection are among the issues also covered.

The Mongolian Law on Land (effective 1 April 1995) regulates the possession and use of land (and other issues) by citizens, economic entities, and organizations. The core of this law is the description of terms, conditions, and related issues of land possession and use, and consists of 60 articles divided into eight chapters. Besides providing legal definitions of state land principles, land ownership, land possessors and users, and land fees, this law classifies all land within the borders of Mongolia as "United Land Territory," and creates separate categories of land designated for agriculture, cities, villages, and other settlements, land for transportation and networks, forest resources, water resources, and reserve lands. Provisions on land management, records, and reports on the Unified Land Territory are included in chapter 5 of the law. Procedures on application, decision-making processes regarding land possession, and related matters are well described. Other provisions reflected in this law are related to efficient and rational land use and protection, as well as issues of settling land disputes, compensation for damages, and liability for violation of legislation.

The Mongolian Law on Underground Resources, endorsed in 1988, with following amendments in 1994 and 1995, contains 60 articles divided into eleven chapters. The purpose of this law is to regulate the exploration and protection of underground resources for present and future generations, and has served as a basis for the creation of many other environmentally related laws. State ownership of underground resources is described, along with its mandate on management, possession, and protection, as well as the rights and responsibilities of users, and other issues.

The Mongolian Law on Special Protected Areas (effective 1 April 1995) regulates the use and procurement of land for special protection, and consists of 39 articles divided into eight chapters. Special protected areas are broken down into strictly protected areas, national conservation parks, nature reserves, and monuments. Included are descriptions and protection regimes for each category, including prohibited activities and financing. Also reflected in this law are the plenary rights of state organizations regarding special protected areas, the provisions, terms, and conditions of land use, research and investigation activities in special protected areas, state control, and liabilities for violation of special protected areas legislation.

The Mongolian Law on Mineral Resources (effective 1 January 1995), which regulates and addresses issues of exploration and mining of all types of mineral resources, and related activities, contains 65 articles divided into ten chapters. Some of the highlights include the following features.
+ The first-come, first-served principle is the only measure for granting a mineral license.
+ Mineral license holders have an exclusive right to exploration and mining of all minerals within their claim, excluding water, petroleum, and natural gas.
+ The government may participate in exploration and mining only through business entities, which have the same rights and obligations as any other person under the law.
+ There is no discrimination between state enterprises and private entities.
+ A mining license holder has an option to make a so-called "stability" agreement with the Minister of Finance for a mining project with initial investment in excess of U.S.$2 million. The term of stability agreements ranges from between 10 to 15 years.

Mongolia's Law on Water (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the protection, proper use, and restoration of water, and describes the plenary rights of state administrative organizations and their activities. Provisions on protection, restoration of water, and water use issues such as permissions, rights, and duties of water users are also included.

The Mongolian Law on Water and Mineral Water Use Fees (1 July 1995) regulates the fee requirements for the use of water and mineral water by citizens, economic entities, and organizations, and includes rules on incorporating these fees into the state budget.

The Mongolian Law on Natural Plants (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the protection, proper use, and restoration of natural (wild) plants, other than forests and cultivated plants. To this law is attached the "List of Very Rare Plants," which lists 133 species in danger of extinction. A companion law to this is the Mongolian Law on Natural Plant Use Fees (1 July 1995), which regulates the fee requirements for the use of natural plants by citizens, economic entities, and organizations, and incorporation of these fees into the state budget.

The Mongolian Law on Forests (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the protection, proper use, and restoration of forests. According to this law, forest resources are divided into strict forest zones, protected forest zones, and utilization forest zones. Details on the zones and their protection and use regimes are described in the first four chapters. The remaining chapters deal with forest fire protection, maintaining and clearing forests, measures for the protection and restoration of forests, as well as forest utilization issues such as timber contracts, harvest licenses, forest users' obligations, etc.

The Mongolian Law on Fees for Harvest of Forest Timber and Fuelwood (effective 1 July 1995) regulates the fee requirements for the harvest of forests for timber and fuel by citizens, economic entities, and organizations, and the incorporation of these fees into the state budget.

The Mongolian Law on Forest and Grassland Fire Protection (28 May 1996) has 14 articles divided into three chapters.

The Mongolian Law on Hunting (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the protection and proper use of mammals, birds, and fish of hunting significance. Besides giving definitions of animal resources and their classification, hunting management, conservation, breeding measures, and financing, this law includes provisions on hunting and trapping animals, such as the purpose of hunting, the issuance of permits, export of animals, prohibited hunting seasons, activities, and liabilities for violation, etc. The scientific names of very rare animals are also included for clarification purposes.

Two laws, the Mongolian Law on Hunting Reserve Use Payments and the Law on Hunting and Trapping Authorization Fees (effective 1 July 1995), regulate the fee requirements for the use of hunting reserves by citizens, economic entities, and organizations. And they detail the authorization fees for hunting and trapping animals, birds, and fish, and incorporation of these payments and fees into the state budget.

The Mongolian Law on Air (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the protection and proper use of the atmosphere in relation to the human right to live in a healthy and safe environment, and to provide environmental balance for the sake of present and future generations. This law describes issues on administration, quality control, information, and measures on air protection, including actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and liabilities for violation.

The Mongolian Law on Protection from Toxic Chemicals (effective 5 June 1995) regulates the production, export and import, storage, trade, transport, use, and disposal of toxic chemicals.

The end of this book includes environmentally related provisions from the Constitution of Mongolia, the Law of the Government of Mongolia, the Foreign Investment Law, Healthcare Law, General Law of Taxation, Law of Civil Protection, the Law on Governmental Administration (on administrative units of Mongolia and their management), the Law of the Border of Mongolia, and the Amendment Law to the Law of Criminal Codes.

Environmental Laws of Mongolia can be considered a useful reference book for the country's citizens and legal entities, since nearly all the laws and provisions on environmental issues of the country are gathered in one place, and it can serve as a tool to ensure more effective and proper use of natural resources. While simultaneously securing environmental protection in Mongolia, these laws also play an important role in addressing global environmental issues and harmonizing with international conventions to which the country has committed

Remarks:

http://pub.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/view.php?docid=426
Full text is available on EBSCOhost database: http://www.ebscohost.com/

Author:
Batjargal Zamba
Nachin Dashnyam
Date: