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International Environmental Law: Treaties

Why treaties?

There are more than 300 multilateral treaties in the world that constitute the majority of international environmental law. Because of the changing nature of the subject matter, drafters of IEL treaties tend to create general "framework" treaties, with more specific protocols dictating the implementation of the treaties, and highly technical Annexes listing information that may change rapidly.

What About Soft Law?

Another type of IEL agreements is soft law. Soft law is non-binding instruments or documents which have the appearance of law and can be politically influential in setting down objectives and aspirations. Documents constituting soft law can often be located on the websites of individual organizations (like the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development). 

Secretariat Websites

To understand what actions are prohibited or required underIEL, you must examine treaty protocols and annexes carefully. 

Fortunantely, most treaties establish a secrtariat to administer the treaty. Usually a secretariat's website contains key instruments. 

Where to find treaties

Listed Alphabetically:

Westlaw: Combined Treaties Database

This is a multibase which contains all treaties, conventions, agreements and other international materials from a number of separate and disparate databases. A document contains the text of an international document, an introductory note, and content summary when available. Coverage varies and treaties are limited to those signed by the United States and/or the European Union. 

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