On 10 May 2018, by an overwhelming majority, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which paved the way to negotiations on a Global Pact for the Environment. This international treaty would combine the guiding legal principles for environmental action into one single text. For over thirty years, the international community of jurists has been calling on States to adopt such a text from the legal experts associated with the 1987 Brundtland report, to the initial 1995 IUCN draft Covenant on Environment and Development, and the draft created in 2017 by a group of experts composed of around 100 jurists from 40 southern and northern countries and of all legal traditions.
In 2015, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement created a new global momentum for environmental protection and conservation. These texts represented major progress. However, damage to the environment persists and is more serious than ever before. The years 2017 and 2018 have seen record-breaking temperatures. Biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace. It is therefore necessary to step up to a higher level. Beyond the question of climate, the need for a comprehensive text arises, establishing the guiding principles of global environmental governance.
With the Global Pact for the Environment, the international community would be equipped for the first time with a treaty of a general nature that covers all environmental areas. It would be the cornerstone of international environmental law and constitute an “umbrella text” that thereby oversees the different existing sectoral agreements (climate, biodiversity, waste, pollution, etc). The Pact is not intended to substitute for these sectoral treaties. Instead, it aims to complement them and facilitate their implementation. It would therefore fill any of their gaps or even would be applied in addition to them where there is no incompatibility, thus making them more effective and efficient.
With regard to its content, the new treaty would reflect the principles on the environment found in the majority of constitutions worldwide and enshrined in several key international texts, such as the 1982 World Charter for Nature, and the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which are not currently legally binding. It would benefit all those involved in environmental governance by systematically bringing together the international, constitutional, and legislative provisions already in existence in many countries, as a consistent foundation for implementation. In each State, the legislator would find references for the adoption of new, more robust laws on the environment. The Supreme Courts would draw from it as a common source of inspiration and build the foundations for global environmental law within the framework of a dialogue between judges. Citizens and NGOs would see their environmental rights strengthened. Businesses would be able to take advantage of global harmonisation of the rules of the game, which would favour greater legal certainty and fair competition conditions.
Whilst we celebrate seventy years since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and fifty years since the adoption of the two International Covenants adopted by the United Nations in 1966, one relating to civil and political rights and the other to economic, social, and cultural rights, the moment has come to open up a brand-new chapter in the history of international law. That is why we are calling for the adoption of a third Pact, enshrining a new generation of fundamental commitments: the rights and duties of States, public and private entities and individuals relating to the conservation, protection and restoration of the environment.
Yann Aguila, President of the Environment Commission of the Club des juristes, Antonio Herman Benjamin, Justice at the National High Court of Brazil, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Laurent Fabius, former President of the COP 21, Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, David Boyd, Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainable Development, University of British Columbia, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Lord Robert Carnwath, Justice UK Supreme Court, Parvez Hassan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan Chairman Emeritus IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Marie Jacobsson, former Member of the UN International Law Commission and Special Rapporteur, Donald Kaniaru, former Director of Environmental Implementation at UNEP, Swatanter Kumar, former Judge at the Supreme Court of India, former Chairperson of the Indian National Green Tribunal, Luc Lavrysen, Judge at the Constitutional Court of Belgium, President of the European forum of Judges for the Environment, Professor of Environmental Law, Ghent University, Pilar Moraga Sariego, Professor at Environmental Law Center of Faculty of Law, University of Chile, Head of the Human Dimension research line of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Tianbao Qin, Professor at the Wuhan University, Secretary General of Chinese Society of Environment and Resources Law, Nicholas A. Robinson, Professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University, Executive Governor, International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), Jorge E. Vinuales, Harold Samuel Chair of Law and Environmental Policy Fellow of C-EENRG Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health, Margaret Young, Associate Professor, Melbourne Law School, Pauline Abadie, Lecturer, University Paris Saclay, Domenico Amirante, Full Professor of Comparative Law and Environmental Law, Director of the PhD School in Human Sciences, University “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Marisol Angles Hernandez, Full-time researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Institute for Legal Research, Dr. Virginie Barral, Associate Professor in International Law, University of Hertfordshire, Mishig Batsuuri, Presiding Justice of Chamber for Administrative Cases, The Supreme Court of Mongolia, Ben Boer, Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney, former Deputy Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (2012-2016), Klaus Bosselmann, Professor, University of Auckland, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group, Chair, Ecological Law and Governance Association, Simone Borg, Legal Expert in International Law, President of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Head of the Department of Environmental and Resources Law, Professor of International Law, University of Malta, Ioana Botezatu, International Civilian – Environmental Safety, Michael Bothe, Professor Emeritus of Public Law, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, former President, European Environmental Law Association, former Vice-Chair, IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, former Secretary General, German Society for Environmental Law, Thomas Boudreau, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Professor Salisbury University Maryland, Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Georgetown Law, Soukaina Bouraoui, Director of the Centre of Arab Women for Training & Research, Stefano Burchi, Chairman of the Executive Council International Association for Water Law, Mingde Cao, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Joëlle Casanova, former Director of legal and administrative affairs, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Fernando Carillo Florez, Inspector Attorney General of Colombia, Nathalie Chalifour, Associate Professor, Center for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Leila Chikhaoui, Professor of Public Law, University of Tunis, Member of the Tunisian provisional Constitutional court…