Story | 05 Dec, 2018

United Nations Secretary General promotes Global Pact

New York, 4 December 2018 – On 3 December 2018, UN Secretary-General Guterres released the UN’s very first report on the state of international environmental law. This work will be decisive if international law is to adequately meet the urgency of Earth’s world-wide environmental crises. It recommends steps to strengthen how nations protect the climate and solve problems of pollution or safeguarding biodiversity. The United Nations General Assembly mandated preparation of his report in a resolution adopted May 10, 2018 (Res A/72/L.51).

Entitled “Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment-Related Instruments: Towards A Global Pact for the Environment” (Document A/73/419), the report examines how nations could gather general principles of environmental law into one single, international instrument. It notes that today there are more than 500 agreements that protect the environment, but they are incomplete and not fully implemented. Agreeing on a common set of guiding principles could clarify, harmonize and reinforce them at the international level. The report also highlights legal gaps, such as fully preventing air pollution from crossing borders and protecting soils and land from degradation.  

Anticipating the release of the Report at the Paris Peace Forum on 11 November 2018, UN Secretary General Guterres declared that “the codification of the main principles of environmental law would bring visibility and clarity”. 

The Report sets the stage for deliberations of the General Assembly’s ad-hoc working group, which begin in January 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. 

On “Human Rights Day”, 10 December 2018, France, Senegal, IUCN and the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) will assemble a panel of international experts at the United Nations Headquarters, to assess the recommendations report. These include recognizing a right to a health environment as part of international law. These debates will be seventy years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their message: it is now time to recognize a new generation of fundamental rights and, in particular, the right for all persons to live in a healthy environment. [1]


[1] International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) / World Commission on Environmental Law - International Union for the Conservation of Nature (WCEL-IUCN) / International Group of Experts for the Pact (IGEP).