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Because foreign and international legal research can be difficult, it is often wise to consult a comprehensive secondary source on the topic, such as a treatise or law journal article.
This guide will provide an overview of the key terms, general starting points by sub-topic of international environmental law and correlating treaties and agreements, a summary of the essential websites and secondary sources for international environmental legal research, and an approach for researching the primary law of foreign jurisdictions for this topic.
Finally, an overview of the prominent international organizations and correlating documentation produced for international environmental law and blogs for current awareness in this field is provided for a comprehensive overview. Those include treaties, custom, general principles recognized among nations, decisions, and other secondary authority such as the writings of prominent scholars in the field.
PDF Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development (1992), Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests (1992) *Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980) *Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (“Ramsar”) (1971), *Paris Protocol (1982), and Regina Amendments (1987) Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992) *Antarctic Treaty (1959) & *Protocol on Environmental Protection (1991)United Nations Sustainable Development / .
PDF Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Secretariat / Basic Documents / . has signed and ratified the treaty and, thus, has become a party to the treaty.
The following table is a table of international agreements, treaties, and websites for international legal research based on the eight sub-topics of hazardous waste, nuclear waste, ocean and marine sources, ozone and protection of the atmosphere, pollution, protection of species and wildlife, sustainable development, and trade and the environment.
When available, I have linked to sources of the original document available online.
Historically, the timeline of treaties that are often identified as monumental in the formation of international environmental law include: the Stockholm Conference (1972), UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) (1982), World Conference on Environment and Development (1987), UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992), and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).
A helpful overview of international environmental law is provided in International Environmental Law in a Nutshell by Lakshman D. Doran (West 2012) for those researchers unfamiliar with this area of international law.
To begin research in international environmental law, a researcher should have a basic understanding of international law and authority: for example, knowledge of treaty research and an awareness of the types of international agreements and their effect in nations of the world as result of reservations, understandings, or declarations.
As noted in this research guide, the number of international environmental treaties is manageable by sub-topic, so identification of the appropriate sub-topic or category of international environmental law is essential to narrowly tailor research and avoid getting bogged down in the wealth of information.