A Global Pact for the Environment: Conceptual foundations

AuthorYann Aguila,Jorge E. Viñuales
Date01 April 2019
Published date01 April 2019
A Global Pact for the Environment: Conceptual foundations
Yann Aguila
Jorge E. Viñuales
Email: jev32@cam.ac.uk This article introduces the conceptual foundations of the initiative towards the
adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment. It first situates the search for a
global framework instrument on environmental protection in a longterm perspective
and then discusses the main reasons why it is needed. Against this background, the
article presents the current expression of this much broader trend, in the form of
the initiative for a Global Pact for the Environment and the momentum it has gener-
ated in policy circles, first and foremost at the level of the United Nations General
The adoption, on 10 May 2018, of United Nations (UN) General
Assembly Resolution A/72/L.51, entitled Towards a Global Pact for
the Environment(Enabling Resolution),
has justifiably attracted great
public attention, including expressions of support and, inevitably, also
criticism. The resolution called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc
Openended Working Group, which met in early September 2018 in
New York and is scheduled to meet three more times in Nairobi in the
first half of 2019
to discuss the substantive aspects of the initiative
for a Global Pact for the Environment (GPE). Much could be said
about this initiative, in which the authors of this article are closely
involved, and which has received ample coverage in the media
well as in academic and policy circles.
In the specific context of this
however, we will limit ourselves to two basic observations,
which will provide the necessary background for the analysis of the
intellectual origins and conceptual foundations underlying the GPE.
The first observation is that it would be a mistake to see the
Enabling Resolution or even the initiative for a GPE as a mere
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2019 The Authors. Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
UNGA Towards a Global Pact for the EnvironmentUN Doc A/RES/72/277 (10 May 2018)
(Enabling Resolution).
Report of the Ad Hoc Openended Working Group Established Pursuant to General
Assembly Resolution 72/277 of 10 May 2018 Entitled Towards a Global Pact for the Envir-
onment”’ UN Doc A/AC.289/L.1 (20 August 2018).
See, e.g., Bid for Environmental Rights Pact to Kick Off in Paris Tomorrow(The Times of
India, 23 June 2017); Un Pacte Mondial pour Protéger l'Environnement(Le Monde, 25
June 2017); Un Projet de Pacte Mondial pour l'Environnement(Le Figaro, 24 June 2017);
Macron Promet de Défendre un Pacte Mondial pour l'Environnement”’ (Reuters, 24 June
2017); Wang Yi Attends Global Pact for the Environment Summit(Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of the People's Republic of China, 20 September 2017); H Xiao, China Lauds UN
Environment Pact(China Daily, 20 September 2017); Macron rilancia all'Onu un Patto
globale per il clima(La Stampa, 21 September 2017); Secretáriogeral da ONU pede apoio
a pacto ambiental proposto pela França(Naçoes Unidas no Brasil, 22 September 2017); L
Fabius and Y Aguila, Un Pacto Medioambiental(El País, 2 August 2018); Global Pact Will
Boost International Environmental Governance(The Guardian (Nigeria), 25 September
2018); Appel de 100 Juristes pour l'Adoption d'un Pacte Mondial pour l'Environnement(Le
Monde, 9 October 2018); Y Aguila et al, The Time is Now for a Global Pact for the Envir-
onment(The Guardian, 9 October 2018); Uhuru: Kenya Committed to Fight against Cli-
mate Change(Daily Nation (Kenya), 11 November 2018).
See, e.g., Global Perspectives on a Global Pact for the Environment, Sabin Center for Cli-
mate Change Law (Columbia University, 20 September 2018) <http://blogs.law.columbia.ed
In addition, many meetings have been held around the world, including in Paris (Conference
Towards a Global Pact for the Environment, La Sorbonne, 24 June 2017), New York (Con-
ference on the Global Pact for the Environment, Columbia University, 20 September 2017),
Bogotá (Symposium on the Global Pact for the Environment organized by the Attorney
General of the Nation, 1 March 2018), Brasilia (Round Table on the Global Pact for the
Environment, World Water Forum, 19 March 2018), Dakar (Conference L'Afrique s'engage
pour la Planète, 14 May 2018), Geneva (Conference on the Global Pact for the Environ-
ment at the UN International Law Commission, 10 July 2018), Santiago de Chile (Coloquio
Pacto mundial del medio ambiente, derechos humanos, y constitución, 28 August 2018),
Québec (Conférence Une opportunité pour un Canada plus vert? Le projet de Pacte mon-
dial pour l'environnement, 21 September 2018), Ottawa (Le projet onusien de Pacte mon-
dial pour l'environnement: quelles implications pour le Canada?, 24 September 2018),
Beijing (Conference on the Legal Aspects of a Healthy Environment, 12 October 2018),
Naples (Une patto globale per l'ambiente, 19 October 2018).
This article is part of a wider research project that brings together the knowledge and
expertise of several generations of international environmental lawyers from around the
world to contribute to the development of a Global Pact for the Environment (see Y Aguila
and JE Viñuales (eds), A Global Pact for the Environment: Legal Foundations (Cambridge
CEENRG, Advance version, 14 January 2019). The authors wish to acknowledge the partic-
ipation in this research project, the results of which will be published in the form of an edi-
ted volume, of the following contributors (in alphabetical order): Virginie Barral, Antonio
Benjamin, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, David Boyd, Edith Brown Weiss, Neil Craik,
PierreMarie Dupuy, LeslieAnne DuvicPaoli, Jonas Ebbesson, Francesco Francioni, Guil-
laume Futhazar, Shotaro Hamamoto, Marie Jacobsson, Walter Kälin, Yann Kerbrat, Ginevra
Le Moli, Sandrine MaljeanDubois, Makane Mbengue, Jane McAdam, Pilar Moraga, Nilufer
Oral, Michel Prieur, Alexander Proelss, Qin Tianbao, Lavanya Rajamani, Nicholas Robinson,
Monserrat Rovalo Otero, Jason Rudall, Christina Voigt and Zhang Meng.
DOI: 10.1111/reel.12277
RECIEL. 2019;28:312. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/reel

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