Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin
Chapter 15: Non-compliance procedures and the implementation of commitments under wildlife treaties
Following the proliferation of multilateral environmental instruments (MEAs), which characterised the development of international environmental law during the latter part of the twentieth century, the focus of the first part of the twenty-first century has been the consolidation and implementation of those instruments. In particular, priority has been given to issues of compliance and the development of novel and effective mechanisms internal to treaty regimes designed to support the adherence of states to their treaty obligations. Biodiversity-related and other MEAs are typically characterised as law making or standard setting as opposed to contractual or synallagmatic, and their obligations are erga omnes in the sense of being owed to all parties or even to the international community as a whole. The relative lack of reciprocity between contracting parties and the notion of community interest, ‘over and above any interests of the contracting parties individually’creates both conceptual and practical challenges when applying the rules of treaties and state responsibility to the operation and termination of MEAs. Nowhere is this more acute than in the area of responding to breach of treaties. Whilst Article 60 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) constitutes one of the few provisions in the Convention to distinguish between law making and contractual treaties, it nevertheless requires a party to have been especially affected by the breach in order to suspend the operation of a treaty against the party in breach.
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