List of important international conventions for environmental protection

List of important international conventions for environmental protection


Earlier, there was no precise environmental policy. The seventies marked a new dimension in the history of environmental policy at the global level. The developments that took place during this decade gave a new direction for environmental protection. A brief survey of the policy prospective is stated hereunder.

The Stockholm Declaration,1972

The year 1968 marks a watershed in the history of environmental management. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations passed a resolution on 30th July 1968. For convening an International Conference on the problems of the human environment. This was followed by a resolution passed on 3rd December 1968 by the United Nations General Assembly. In pursuance of the resolution, the United Nations Conference on Human Environment for the first time was held at Stockholm from 5th to 16th June 1972. 113 States including India represented by then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi participated. The main purpose of the conference was to seek extensive cooperation on a global level to discuss elaborately various problems on environmental degradation.

The Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan defined principles for the preservation of the natural environment and highlighted the need to support people in this process. A declaration under the head “The Magna Carta of our Environment” was passed in the conference. The Stockholm Declaration,1972 comprises of two parts. The first part contains seven truths about man and his relation to the environment. The second part of the declaration contains 26 principles providing for an International policy for the protection of the Environment.

Salient Features of the Stockholm Declaration,1972

  1. The responsibility for conservation and protection of the environment solely rests in the individual and it should not be ignored under any circumstances.
  2. It is a natural human tendency to use his creativity for his advancement but he should not cause damage to water and air resources, animals in this endeavor a sit would adversely affect the environment and ecosystem.
  3. Overpopulation has been identified as the main cause of environmental pollution; therefore, this problem has got to be tackled on a priority basis.
  4. The environmental problems of developing nations are mainly due to the multifarious problems of undeveloped nations.

Nairobi Convention,1982

The first UN Conference on Human Environment was held in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden. Towards, the direction, the Administrative Council of United Nations in its meeting held on 5th December 1980 decided to convene the UN Conference on Human Environment from 10th to 18th May 1982 in Nairobi. 105 States participated in this Conference. A declaration called ‘Nairobi Declaration 1982’ was signed by the participating States. The declaration was endorsed by the UNEP in 1987 and also by the UN General Assembly.

Main Provisions of the Nairobi Declaration,1982

  1. The relevance of the Stockholm Declaration was reaffirmed as it provided a sound foundation for the environmental programs to be carried ahead.
  2. There were two reasons for the deterioration of the environment, namely, poverty and the tendency to misuse the available natural resources.
  3. The human environment was substantially benefitted by the policies such as disarmaments, end of colonial oppression, etc.,
  4. Some planned efforts were necessary to prevent damage to the environment.

UN-Convention on Environment and Maritime Law,1982

One of the causes of Environmental Degradation is marine pollution. The issues for consideration before the participant States were-

  1. Regulation of the use of seas and harbors.
  2. Effective utilization of marine resources.
  3. Measures for protection in marine resources.
  4. Framing of maritime law for protection and conservation of the environment.

The main provisions of the Convention were as follows:

  1. Measures to prevent, minimize, and control the marine environment.
  2. Global and regional support for the enforcement of standards to prevent the marine environment.
  3. Preparation of scheme to avert possible environmental damages.
  4. Research programs, information, etc. relating to the environment by the States.

Vienna Convention on Ozone Layer Protection,1987:

A world conference was organized in Vienna in 1985 and as a result of deliberations in the conference. Vienna Convention on Ozone Layer Protection was brought into force with effect from 22nd September 1988. The Convention was signed by 103 States. It was ratified by the U.S.A in 1986. The main provisions of the Ozone Layer Convention were as under:

  1. To conduct a micro-study or those of physical and chemical processes that cause depletion of the ozone layer.
  2. Effect of ozone depletion on human beings and other living organisms.
  3. Climatic and economic changes are likely to occur due to ozone layer depletion.
  4. Effect of radioactive rays on natural resources and how they affect human life.

All the participating states were urged to render scientific and technological assistance to the developing nations in their development program. A Secretariat was established for the effective enforcement of the recommendations of the Vienna Convention. The main functions of the Secretariat were to organize meetings, conferences, seminars. etc. and to prepare the periodical reports.

Rio Summit,1992

The most revolutionary step in the present decade was the “Rio Summit,1992.” It is also known as the “Earth Summit.” It is the third International Conference on Environment held at Rio De Janerio, the capital of Brazil from 3rd to 14th June 1992. It is the largest convention in the history of international relations. About 20,000 delegates from 178 states attended the conference and hence it is called the “Earth Summit.” Maurice Strong, the U.N.C.E.D Chief described it as “Parliament of the Planet.” A declaration under the head “The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,1992” was passed in the conference.

The main features of the Rio Declaration are as follows: –

  1. The declaration contains 27 principles.
  2. Human beings are entitled to a healthy productive life in harmony with nature.
  3. All states shall co-operate for eradicating poverty for sustainable development and to promote the standard of living.
  4. States shall maintain environmental standards.

Author: Shreya Potdar,

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