International Environmental Law Research Guide

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


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Treaties govern many aspects of international environmental law. This section lists many of the most common ones, as well as sources for locating treaties generally. The U.N. Environment Programme also maintains an electronic Glossary of Terms for Negotiators of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (print version also available at the Law Library). For more detailed information on researching treaties—including treaty indexes, status, updating and ratification information—see our Treaty Research guide.

There is another genre of international environmental agreements called soft law. The Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law defines soft law as non-binding instruments or documents which have the appearance of law…. While not legally binding, soft law can be politically influential in setting down objectives and aspirations. Documents constituting soft law can often be located on the websites of individual organizations. Examples of key soft law documents in international environmental law include Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the U.N. Forest Instrument

This page highlights some of the most frequently cited international agreements related to the environment.

Treaty Collections