International environmental law (IEL) is a branch of public international law meaning it is a body of law created by States for States to govern problems that arise between States. Typically, IEL endeavors to control pollution and the depletion of natural resources within a framework of sustainable development. The transboundary nature of many kinds of environmental issues means that most IEL related issues are addressed through international agreements.
Growth of international environmental law as a separate area began with the Stockholm Conference on the Environment in 1972. Since then, IEL has developed into a subset of international law that consists primarily of treaties and other multilateral agreements entered into by states to regulate activities of participating states. Some principles, such as sustainable development, may have become customary law that bind states whether or not they have adopted the principle as part of their national law. Non-state actors are generally governed by national law and not directly through treaties.
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