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International Environmental Law Research Guide

This is an in-depth guide to researching international environmental law.


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Growth of international environmental law as a distinct field of public international law began in the 1970s with the Stockholm Conference on the Environment in 1972. Since then interest has steadily increased and it is one of the fastest growing areas of international law. Current issues of international concern covered by environmental law include climate change, including ozone layer depletion and global warming, desertification, destruction of tropical rain forests, marine plastics pollution from ships, international trade in endangered species (i.e. ivory trade), shipment of hazardous wastes to Third World countries, deforestation of Brazil and the Philippines, protection of wetlands, oil spills, transboundary nuclear air pollution (i.e. Chernobyl), dumping of hazardous wastes, groundwater depletion, international trade in pesticides, and acid rain. Environmental law is also cutting across other areas of international law, such as commercial/business law, trade, and human rights.

International cooperation in the forms of treaties, agreements and resolutions created by intergovernmental organizations as well as national laws and regulations are being used to protect the environment. The researcher is usually looking for documents from the major organizations concerned with protection of the environment such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Union, the OECD, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. Since ultimate responsibility for the protection of the environment remains at the national and local level, municipal laws and regulations related to the environment are increasingly being sought after.

This is an in-depth guide to researching international environmental law. 

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Update History

Revised 10/10 (MMS)
Updated 3/22 (MMK)