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The Role of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Emerging Issues of International Environmental Law


  • Franz Xaver Perrez

    (School of Law, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
    International Affairs Division, Federal Office for the Environment, 3003 Berne, Switzerland)


This article takes a closer look at the scientific, policy and catalytic functions of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its Assembly (UNEA) and UNEA’s role in addressing emerging issues in international environmental policy and law by examining two concrete examples. The first shows how UNEA was able to contribute to the international environmental law on mercury: UNEA played a catalytic policy role by contributing to the development of international soft law, customary law, and treaty law. Further, UNEA played a policy shaping role by influencing the further development of key international environmental law principles in the negotiations of new environmental norms in other fora. The second example describes UNEA’s unsuccessful attempt to address geoengineering. Building on the two examples, the article identifies factors that support or impede the fulfilment of UNEA’s role in addressing emerging issues of international environmental policy and law.

Suggested Citation

  • Franz Xaver Perrez, 2020. "The Role of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Emerging Issues of International Environmental Law," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(14), pages 1-20, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2020:i:14:p:5680-:d:384738

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steinar Andresen & Kristin Rosendal & Jon Skjærseth, 2013. "Why negotiate a legally binding mercury convention?," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 425-440, November.
    2. Abbott, Kenneth W. & Snidal, Duncan, 2000. "Hard and Soft Law in International Governance," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 421-456, July.
    3. Maria Ivanova, 2010. "UNEP in Global Environmental Governance: Design, Leadership, Location," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 10(1), pages 30-59, February.
    4. Géraud de Lassus St-Geniès, 2020. "The Outcome of the Negotiations on the Global Pact for the Environment: A Commentary," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(3), pages 1-12, January.
    5. Maria Ivanova, 2007. "Designing the United Nations Environment Programme: a story of compromise and confrontation," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 337-361, December.
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    2. Angelica Rutherford, 2022. "The Application of the Environment Act 2021 Principles to Carbon Capture and Storage," Laws, MDPI, vol. 11(1), pages 1-13, February.

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