The Mediterranean ICZM Protocol: Paper treaty or wind of change?
Entered into force in 2011, the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean is a major innovation in that it is the first supra-State legal instrument aimed at coastal zone management. However, the nature and magnitude of change it is actually generating, or is likely to generate, in domestic coastal zones management systems, are highly uncertain. Investigating such prospects for change in contrasted contexts around the Mediterranean, and therefore providing a critical view of the Protocol as a game-changer, is the aim of this article. Results call for vigilance: the risk is real that the Protocol will not change much and that it will become a paper-protocol only. Ratifying it is – relatively – easy. Avoiding “ratifications of convenience” is more demanding. For various reasons the Protocol is likely to have mostly limited impacts on domestic coastal law development. It probably has more potential in terms of influencing changes in governance processes and increasing the social demand for ICZM. But this potential may only be translated into facts under stringent conditions on political will and good faith from Parties to adopt an ambitious understanding of the Protocol, and on appropriation by civil societies around the Mediterranean.