Environmental Compliance Mechanisms

Merkouris, P. & Fitzmaurice, M., 25-Oct-2017, In : Oxford Bibliographies Online. 31 p.

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Compliance mechanisms can be found in treaties regulating such diverse issues as human rights, disarmament law, and environmental law. In this bibliography, the focus will be on compliance mechanisms of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Compliance with norms of international environmental law, in particular those included in MEAs, has been of interest for many years, both from a theoretical and practical point of view. Compliance with MEAs is a matter that differs greatly from compliance with domestic environmental rules. In relation to compliance with the norms of environmental agreements, the focus of this article is on sovereign countries. There are a number of theories that attempt to address the complex issues involved in the legal basis of compliance as well as the best methods to ensure it, ranging from facilitative to compulsory techniques. The theory of compliance comprises the debate on the extent of functions of the organs established by MEAs (such as the compliance committees Conference of the Parties [COPs] and/or Meeting of the Parties [MOPs]). There are already a great number of diverse compliance procedures attached to various MEAs, such as in the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (see United Nations Environment Programme 2000],cited under Montreal Protocol) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (see United Nations 1998, cited under Kyoto Protocol). It should be kept in mind that MEAs and noncompliance procedures do not exist in a normative vacuum. Compliance theories are linked with general international law; for instance, in terms of the question of the use of countermeasures in compliance control and material breach of treaties. Even nonbinding norms may have a role in promoting compliance with obligations undertaken under MEAs. In practice, environmental compliance and the gradual evolution of compliance procedures in international environmental law is one of most vibrant and stimulating subject matters in international law and is still evolving.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalOxford Bibliographies Online
Publication statusPublished - 25-Oct-2017


  • International Environmental Law, Environmental Compliance, Non-compliance procedures, Multilateral environmental agreements (MEA), UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, Montreal protocol, Paris Agreement

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