Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development
In 1995, the IUCN "Commission on Environmental Law, in cooperation with the International Council of Environmental Law, released the Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development on the occasion of the UN Congress of Public International Law.
The Draft Covenant, which includes a proposed text of a treaty and detailed commentary, is intended to stimulate consideration of a global instrument on environmental conservation and sustainable development.
The Draft Covenant was the result of a process started informally in the mid-1980s and formally in 1989 with the establishment of a CEL Working Group. Financial support was provided by the Government of The Netherlands. The process involved some the world's leading experts in international environmental law, biological sciences and ethics. Several drafts were prepared and were circulated and submitted to various international meetings and processes, such as UNCED Prepcom III, IUCN General Assembly at Buenos Aires and the American Society of International Law.
Already, the Draft Covenant has been an influential source in the General Assembly processes to identify principles of environmental law for sustainable development.
The Charter of the United Nations governs relations between States. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights pertains to relations between the State and the individual. The time has come to devise a covenant regulating relations between humankind and nature.
1992 was a historical watershed, with the convening of the world's largest ever international conference, the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), attended by representatives of 178 States, including many heads of State and government. UNCED's action plan, Agenda 21, identifies concrete steps to integrate environment and development. UNCED further endorsed roles of environmental law in guiding all nations toward this integration.
The law is an essential component for setting and implementing global, regional, and national policy on environment and development. UNCED emphasized the need to integrate "environment and development issues at national, sub-regional, regional and international levels," including:
(a) elaborating the "balance between environmental and developmental concerns;" (b) clarifying the relationships between the various existing treaties; and (c) ensuring national participation in both developing and implementing these legal measures, with particular focus on developing countries.
IUCN's Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), in cooperation with the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) and with the assistance of UNEP's Environmental Law and Institutions Programme Activity Centre (ELI/PAC), has responded to UNCED's recommendations by elaborating a Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development.
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