This paper presents and evaluates the Themis thematic regional network. The exploitation of natural resources and illegal logging result in substantial environmental harm and raise cross-border and international tensions by hindering sustainable development in affected regions. Informal cooperation mechanisms, such as transgovernmental enforcement networks, can foster mutual trust and cooperation and enhance cross-border cooperation. The creation of the Themis Network, and thus a political “space” at national and regional level for shared natural resources management, contributes to strengthening partnerships with major stakeholders in the fields of natural resources management, forestry and the combating of environmental crimes. The internationalisation of the network to a regional level also reinforces the adoption of a consistent approach and strengthens the exchange of information on enforcement strategies, specific problems and the sharing of best practices and success stories.
The paper draws a number of conclusions. Firstly, informal cooperation mechanisms can be seen as a useful tool in law enforcement, where mutual trust, respect and cooperation are developed between partners with the help of intensive dialogue. This enhanced dialogue contributes towards the exchange of experiences and knowledge, allowing for mutual learning, simultaneously harmonising enforcement strategies for better regional and national enforcement as well as implementing and enforcing multilateral environmental agreements. Secondly, informal networks such as Themis provide a depoliticised space at national and regional level for shared natural resources management, also addressing cross-border conflict situations such as illegal logging activities. Finally, the Themis Network aims to strengthen regional cooperation in South Eastern European countries through capacity building in the environment and justice sectors and by enhancing cooperation between the various actors in the justice sector and enforcement authorities.
The paper was written by Aniko Nemeth.