ШАГ В НАУКУ - 2016
I Международная научная дистанционная студенческая конференция

Юридические науки
The Role of International Organizations in Solving Environmental Problems: Legal Aspects
Булат Н.Н. 1

1. Одесский национальный университет им. И.И. Мечникова


Работа посвящена рассмотрению международного сотрудничества как одного из общих принципов международного экологического права, которое в значительной степени формируется через деятельность различных международных организаций. Автор уделяет отдельное внимание работе ключевых программ (ЮНЕП) и международных организаций (МСОП, ЮНЕСКО и др.) в данной области.

Ключевые слова: международное сотрудничество, международные организации, международное экологическое право




N. M. Bulat, master student, Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University


Scientific leader: D. M. Sytnikov, PhD,

Assoc. Prof., Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University


We live in a world where we are subject to environmental and economic effects that transcend national boundaries. Increasing globalization has led to a greater recognition of the need to address many of these issues through a global or a regional approach [2].

Everyone knows that global problems are those, which affect not only one individual or state but the whole mankind. They cannot be solved in one day and require organized efforts from the world community. Among the global problems there are environmental problems such as environmental pollution, climate change etc. If people leave these problems unsettled, it may lead to serious consequences in the future. They are concerned with the whole mankind and they need efforts of the world community to be solved as well. Philippe Sands, a Professor of Laws and Director of the Centre for International Courts and Tribunals at the University College of London, in ‘Principles of International Environmental Law’ identifies co-operation like one of the general principles of international environmental law. This principle is reflected in many treaties and other international acts and is supported also by state practice. Therefore, “the importance attached to the principle of co-operation, and its practical significance, is reflected in many international instruments” [6, 249], notices Philippe Sands. For example, Principle 27 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development pointes the following, “States and people shall co-operate in good faith and in a spirit of partnership in the fulfilment of the principles embodied in this Declaration and in the field of sustainable development” [9, principle 27].

To realize this principle there function many international organizations that may be divided on the following categories: specialized agencies of the UN (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organization (ILO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Maritime Organization (IMO)), programs and commissions of the UN (the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD),  the International Hydrological program (IHP), the World Conservation Strategy (WCS),  the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), The World Climate Programme (WCP)), government environmental organizations (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Weather Information Service (WWIS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)), international regional environmental organizations (Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), European Environment Agency, CIS International Environmental Council, Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission - Helsinki Commission), non-government international organizations (World Wide Fund for Nature, Club of Rome, Greenpeace).

 Paying tribute to the efforts and its results of the non-government organizations it can be stated that government organizations have more powers to solve global problems. They are real actors in the international law. The following indicates the effectiveness of international government organizations: they play a central role in law making, they develop treaties that may be ratified by the states and that can make obligations for the states, and that is a real mechanism to achieve environmental security. Therefore it is possible to agree with Julia Sommee who pointes that ‘environmental law-making in its great variety is shaped to a large extent by international organizations’ [7, 628].

On the importance of international government organizations in conservation of nature is also pointed by the United Nations Environment Programme. “The process of developing environmental law also presents an opportunity for strengthening international cooperation and solidarity to face the common challenges ahead. While Governments are primarily responsible for taking legal and related measures to address environmental protection and sustainable development, international organizations have an important role to play in the development of environmental law” [10], is emphasized on the official web-site of UNEP.

Saying about international organizations in general, one can notice the point of view of Frank Biermann, Bernd Siebenhüner and Anna Schreyögg. “Two transformations, we argue, are particularly relevant for the way in which international organizations function: (1) the general shift from intergovernmental politics to global governance, and (2) the increasing functional differentiation of international decision-making, including the emergence of environmental policy as a distinct field of international politics”, point authors of  “International Organizations in Global Environmental Governance” [4, 16].

International organizations involved in environmental law are established at the global, regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels [6, 73]. It is possible to agree that almost all international organizations today have some competence or responsibility for the development, application or enforcement of international environmental obligations, including functions related to standard-setting [6, 73]. But the main role in conservation of nature is played by international organizations that have environmental problems like a central issue in their work.

One of these organizations is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). IUCN was founded in October 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature (or IUPN) following an international conference in Fontainebleau, France. The organization changed its name to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1956 with the acronym IUCN. It is the world’s first global environmental organization [1]. The legal status of IUCN is determined in its Statutes (“IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (also known as International Union for Conservation of Nature) is constituted in accordance with Article 60 of the Swiss Civil Code as an international association of governmental and non-governmental members. Therefore it has legal personality and may perform any act in conformity with its objectives”) [8, part 1]. There are more than 1,200 member organizations in IUCN including more than 200 government and more than 900 non-government organizations, almost 11,000 voluntary scientists and experts, grouped in six Commissions in some 160 countries. IUCN developed the Environmental Law Programme. It has major achievements, among which there are the following:

creation of an integrated and computerized system for legal materials, the Environmental Law Information System (ELIS);

  • major contribution to the development of international treaty law through the preparation of draft instruments, most notably: The African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Algiers, 1968), The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - CITES (Washington 1973), The Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals - CMS (Bonn, 1979), The ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Kuala Lumpur, 1985), The Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD (Rio, 1992), The International Covenant on Environment and Development, in cooperation with the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) and UNEP (1995 - present);
  • major contribution to international "soft law" most notably with the preparation and promotion of the World Charter for Nature, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1982;
  • contribution to implementation of international agreements through regular advice and technical assistance on legal issues to the secretariats of multilateral environmental treaties [3].

The soonest event in ELP will be the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law 14th Colloquium “The Environment in Court – Environment protection in national and international courts, tribunals, and compliance mechanisms(20-25 June 2016) [5].

The next international organization, which specializes on environmental law, is The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 [11]. The aim of UNEP is to coordinate existing environment programs and make new programs in this sphere [11]. To achieve this aim UNEP develops international treaties and takes part in implementation of international environmental law. For the last purpose, UNEP, in cooperation with relevant international organizations, assists States to establish and/or improve institutional and administrative machinery for the development and enforcement of laws and regulations related to the environment and to sustainable development. UNEP also undertakes action to improve arrangements for the receipt, processing and dissemination of information on environmental legislation. In this regard, UNEP and IUCN have been developing a Joint Environmental Law Information System (ECOLEX) to provide access to such legal materials through Internet-based database [10].

As it was noticed above, the environmental problems like one of the issues of their activities are also inherent to a lot of other general and regional organizations.

Thus, the international organizations make a great influence on developing environmental law. They develop rules that are so necessary to solve global environmental problems. They assist in implementation of these rules in national legislations. They also carry out information functions. Therefore the international organizations are a real mechanism to conserving nature and ensuring environmental safety. But the efforts of the international organizations are not always effective. It happens because one of the international environmental law’s characteristics is that it is a ‘soft’ law and it has declarative nature (before the international environmental law is not implemented in national law systems it is not binding). So paying tribute to the efforts of international organizations it may be noticed that a great role in solving environmental problems is played by an every state.



  1. About IUCN [Electronic resource] // Official website of International Union for Conservation of Nature. – Access mode: < http://www.iucn.org/about>
  2. About the Environmental Law Programme [Electronic resource] // Official website of International Union for Conservation of Nature. – Access mode: <http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/environmental_law/elp_about>
  3. Achievements [Electronic resource] // Official website of International Union for Conservation of Nature. – Access mode: <http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/environmental_law/elp_about/elp_about_achieve>
  4. Biermann F. International Organizations in Global Environmental Governance / F. Biermann, B. Siebenhüner, A. Schreyögg. – London, New York: ‘Routledge’. – 2009. – 270 p.
  5. Colloquium 2016 [Electronic resource] // Official website of International Union for Conservation of Nature. – Access mode: <http://iucnael2016.no/about>
  6. Sands Ph. Principles of International Environmental Law / Ph. Sands. – Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo: Cambridge University Press. – 2003. – 1116 p.
  7. Sommee J. Environmental Law-Making by International Organisations / J. Sommee. – Munich: Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht. – 1996. – 667 p.
  8. Statutes of 5 October 1948 and Regulations Revised on 22 October 1996 [Electronic resource] / International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. – 2012. – 86 p. – Access mode: <http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/statutes_en.pdf>
  9. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: UN, Declaration 14.06.1992 [Electronic resource]. – Access mode: <http://zakon3.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/995_455>
  10. The Role of International Organizations in the Development of Environmental Law: a Case of UNEP [Electronic resource] // Official website of The United Nations Environment Programme. – Access mode: <http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=222&ArticleID=2990>
  11. Tymchenko, L.D. International Law: book / L.D. Tymchenko, V.P. Kononenko. – Kyiv: Znannya. – 2012. – 631 p.





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URL: step-science-bip.csrae.ru/ru/0-7 (дата обращения: 25.11.2020).

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