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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.
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.
PDF Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) & 1978 Protocol (“MARPOL”) *International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties (1969) and Protocol (1973) International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (2001) International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1969) & Protocols of 1976, 1984, 1992, and 2000 Amendments *Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013) Persistant Organic Pollutants website (Stockholm Convention) / Convention / National Implementation Plans / .
PDF ENTRI: Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators (1973/1978) / IMO website / Status of IMO Conventions IMO website / ENTRI: Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators / .
As discussed below, there are also many sub-categories of treaties based on the type of environmental concern or prevention of certain types of deterioration or liabilities for pollution.
Here are some of the most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms for treaty research in international environmental law (however, keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list): Because of the many possible sub-topics available for international environmental law, it is helpful to have a table of categories and correlating agreements.
Therefore, the following sources can help provide background information about the legal systems of countries of the world or links to the national laws of foreign nations.
One basic online foreign law database for overviews of foreign laws on particular subjects, which might be available through a subscription at a local academic law library, is Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the Worldby Reynolds & Flores.
The following list provides essential resources for uncovering national laws, more specifically, for international environmental law: Before researching primary law, such as treaties and agreements and laws of the nations of the world, researchers might also consult their library catalog to uncover helpful treatises, books, or nutshells and basic background texts to better understand this area of international law.
The following search terms and Library of Congress subject headings are successful when researching library catalogs: In addition to the above categories, which are not comprehensive but give the researcher a head start, it is useful to search terms in the title of the international environmental agreement of focus or also search sub-topics of international environmental law.