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International Environmental
Camena Guneratne
Dept. of Legal Studies
Open University
Multilateral Environmental
• They play an important role in the protection
and management of the global environment.
• They strengthen environmental policies and
commitments at the national level.
• They provide the framework and the incentives
for transboundary co-operation and burden
sharing in tackling environmental degradation
• They raise public awareness of environmental
issues and catalyse action.
Examples of MEAs
• Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air
Pollution and its protocols (1979)
• Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (1975)
• Convention on the Transboundary Effects of
Industrial Accidents (1992)
• Convention on Transboundary Movement of
Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (1992)
• Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment
in a Transboundary Context (1991)
• Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
Continued ….
• Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
• Convention on the Protection and Use of
Transboundary Watercourses and International
Lakes and its protocols (1992)
• United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change
• United Nations Convention to Combat
Desertification in Countries Experiencing
Serious Drought and/or Desertification,
Particularly in Africa
The five biodiversity related
• Convention on Wetlands of International
Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
(Ramsar) 1971
• UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection
of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
(World Heritage Convention) 1972
• Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
(CITES) 1973
• Convention on the Conservation of Migratory
Species of Wild Animals (CMS/Bonn) 1979
• Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992
Nature of International
Environmental Agreements
• Often sector specific
Eg. Climate change convention deals
with climate change
RAMSAR is site specific - deals
with wetlands
CMS and CITES are subject
specific - deal with endangered species

Ramsar Convention
• Deals with a specific ecosystem
• Requires States to declare wetlands
for protection.
• Declared wetlands must be protected
in terms of the Convention
• Deals with the protection of
endangered species.
• Attempts to protect them by
controlling the international trade in
these species, dead or alive
• Establishes a permit system to
control trade
Convention on Migratory Species
of Wild Animals
• Deals with a particular type of fauna
• This requires international co-operation in
order to protect them
• Like CITES it contains lists of species
based on the level of threat
• Specifies the steps which States have to
take in order to protect them.