UPDATE: A Basic Guide to International Environmental Legal Research
By Heidi Frostestad Kuehl
Heidi Frostestad Kuehl is Director of the David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library and Associate Professor of Law. She holds a law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law with a specialization in International Trade and Development and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa.
Published May/June 2022
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. General Starting Points and Key Abbreviations
- 3. Treaty Research
- 4. Finding the National Laws of Foreign Nations
- 5. Searching Library Catalogs and Finding Print Resources
- 6. Lexis+ and Westlaw
- 7. Environmental Periodicals
- 8. Comprehensive Internet Sites and Research Guides
- 9. Environmental Organizations, Institutes, and Statistics
- 10. 1Environmental Law Blogs and Current Awareness Tools
International environmental law is an ever-changing, constantly expanding, and intriguing topic for international legal research. When decisions and collaborations occur between nations across international boundaries and treaties or agreements are made to cooperate for environmental concerns, disputes inevitably transpire because of trade implications for the respective nations, safety concerns and cleanliness of environmental resources among shared borders, or problems with enforcement mechanisms for liability under agreements or treaty provisions relating to the environment. The vastness of this area of international law includes the environmental sub-issues of population, biodiversity, global climate change, ozone depletion, preserving the Antarctic regions, movement of toxic and hazardous substances, land or vessel-based pollution, dumping, conservation of marine living resources, trans-boundary air and water pollution, desertification, and nuclear damage, among others.
To begin research in international environmental law, a researcher should have a basic understanding of international law and authority: for example, knowledge of treaty research and an awareness of the types of international agreements and their effect in nations of the world as result of reservations, understandings, or declarations. As noted in this research guide, the number of international environmental treaties is manageable by sub-topic, so identification of the appropriate sub-topic or category of international environmental law is essential to narrowly tailor research and avoid getting bogged down in the wealth of information. Like many areas of international law, regulation and implementation of the treaty terms are at the national level.
Thus, some knowledge and research of foreign laws in the countries of focus for a research problem is necessary for thorough research and analysis. This guide will provide an overview of the key terms, general starting points by sub-topic of international environmental law and correlating treaties and agreements, a summary of the essential websites and secondary sources for international environmental legal research, and an approach for researching the primary law of foreign jurisdictions for this topic. Finally, an overview of the prominent international organizations and correlating documentation produced for international environmental law and blogs for current awareness in this field is provided for a comprehensive overview. For other specialized topics in international environmental law research consult GlobaLex articles:
- International Marine Environmental Law by Arundhati Ashok Satkalmi
- An Introduction to International Fisheries Law Research by Abdullah Al Arif
- Kyoto Protocol by Deborah Paulus-Jagrič and updated by Heidi Frostestad Kuehl
- Sustainable Development Law by Gary Yessin and updated by Kristina Alayan
- Transboundary Freshwater: Research Guide on Transboundary Freshwater Treaties and Other Resources by Arundhati Ashok Satkalmi (originally created by Barbara H. Bean)
2. General Starting Points and Key Abbreviations
Like other areas of specialized international law, international environmental law follows the same sources and categories of law as primary authority under Article 38 of the Statute of the I.C.J. Those include treaties, custom, general principles recognized among nations, decisions, and other secondary authority such as the writings of prominent scholars in the field. Therefore, a researcher should start with identifying the applicable treaties in force and analyzing those nations, which are the parties to the agreement. After determining all applicable treaties based on the facts of the research question, then the researcher can uncover national laws, which might accordingly follow the treaty terms or deviate. Because foreign and international legal research can be difficult, it is often wise to consult a comprehensive secondary source on the topic, such as a treatise or law journal article. Before even approaching the treaties, though, it is helpful to decipher the tricky acronyms that emerge when studying international environmental law, especially in the context of the treaties and agreements.
Historically, the timeline of treaties that are often identified as monumental in the formation of international environmental law include: the Stockholm Conference (1972), UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) (1982), World Conference on Environment and Development (1987), UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992), and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002). A helpful overview of international environmental law is provided in International Environmental Law in a Nutshell by Lakshman D. Guruswamy with Kevin L. Doran (West 2021) for those researchers unfamiliar with this area of international law. The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is a very helpful resource for deciphering international legal abbreviations for publications. As discussed below, there are also many sub-categories of treaties based on the type of environmental concern or prevention of certain types of deterioration or liabilities for pollution. Here are some of the most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms for treaty research in international environmental law (however, keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list):
- “Agenda 21” – Programme of Action for Sustainable Development
- “Aarhus Convention” – Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
- “Basel Convention” – Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
- “Basel Ban Amendment” – Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes
- “Biodiversity Convention” – Convention on Biological Diversity
- “Bunkers Convention” – International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage
- “Cartagena Protocol” – Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity
- “CBD” – Convention on Biological Diversity
- “CCAMLR” – Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
- “CCSBT” – Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
- “CITES” – Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
- “CLC” – Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage
- “Climate Change Convention” – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- “CRAMRA” – Antarctic Mineral Resources Convention
- “ECE Treaty” – ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes
- “FAO” – Food and Agriculture Organization
- “IAEA” – International Atomic Energy Agency
- “IMO” – International Maritime Organisation
- “Kyoto Protocol” – Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- “LRTAP” – Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
- “MARPOL” – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
- “Montreal Protocol” – Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
- “NAAEC” – North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
- “OLDEPESCA” – Agreement Instituting the Latin American Organization for Fisheries Development
- “OPRC” – 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation
- “OSPAR Convention” – Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic
- “Paris Convention” – Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy
- “PIC” – Rotterdam Convention on Trade in Hazardous Chemicals
- “POPs” – Persistent Organic Pollutants
- “Ramsar” – Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
- “Rio Declaration” – Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
- “Rotterdam Convention” –
- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade“Stockholm Convention” – Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
- “UNCCD” – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
- “UNCLOS” – United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- “UNEP” – United Nations Environment Programme
- “UNFCCC” – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- “Vienna Convention” – Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
- “Wetlands Convention” – Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
- “WSSD” – World Summit on Sustainable Development
3. Treaty Research
3.1. Sub-Topics for International Environmental Law
Because of the many possible sub-topics available for international environmental law, it is helpful to have a table of categories and correlating agreements. The following table is a table of international agreements, treaties, and websites for international legal research based on the eight sub-topics of hazardous waste, nuclear waste, ocean and marine sources, ozone and protection of the atmosphere, pollution, protection of species and wildlife, sustainable development, and trade and the environment. When available, I have linked to sources of the original .pdf document available online.
SUB-TOPICS FOR INTERNATIONAL
Basel Convention (** 1989)
Basel Convention Amendment (1995)
Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes
OECD Council Decision and Guidance Manual (2009)
*Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“NPT”) (1968)
*Convention on Nuclear Safety (1994)
*Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (2001)
Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy [“Paris Convention”] (1960)
Protocol to Amend the Paris Convention (2004)
|OCEAN AND MARINE SOURCES||
*Agreement for the Establishment of the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council (1948) and Amendments (1961)
Agreement Instituting the Latin American Organization for Fisheries Development (OLDEPESCA) (1982)
*Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic (1982)
Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (1993)
Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources (1974) & “OSPAR” Convention (1992)
UNECE Water Convention (1992) and Amendment (2003)
UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997)
|OZONE AND PROTECTION OF THE ATMOSPHERE||
*Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer [“Vienna Convention”] (1985)
*Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (1979)
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention (1997)
*Montreal Protocol (1987), *London Amendment (1990), *Copenhagen Amendment (1992), *Montreal Amendment (1997), and *Beijing Amendment (1999)
*United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001)
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (1973) & 1978 Protocol (“MARPOL”)
*International Convention Relating to Intervention on the High Seas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties (1969) and Protocol (1973)
International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (2001)
International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (1969) & Protocols of 1976, 1984, 1992, and 2000 Amendments
*Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013)
|PROTECTION OF SPECIES AND WILDLIFE||
Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development (1992), Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests (1992), and UN Forest Instrument (2018)
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2000)
Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
*North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (1993)
*United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought (1994) and Strategic Framework (2018-2030)
Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development (1992), Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests (1992)
*Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980)
*Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (“Ramsar”) (1971), *Paris Protocol (1982), and Regina Amendments (1987)
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)
*Antarctic Treaty (1959) & *Protocol on Environmental Protection (1991)
Committee for Environmental Protection: Antarctic Treaty / Antarctic Treaty Secretariat / .PDF (Antarctic Treaty) / .PDF (Protocol) / Dep’t of State (Depositary) / Handbook of the Antarctic Treaty System / Protocol / Key documents
|TRADE & THE ENVIRONMENT||
*Convention on Int’l Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora [“CITES”] (1973)
*North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation [“NAAEC”] (1993)
Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (1998)
* - U.S. has signed and ratified the treaty and, thus, has become a party to the treaty.
** - Dates referenced are the date of signature of the treaties.
3.2. Essential Indexes and Finding Aids for Treaty Research
There are numerous treaty indexes for historical U.S. treaties, as well as world treaty series for international environmental legal research. In some instances, these treaty indexes are available in print and online. For international environmental law, it is most helpful to consult indexes containing world treaties, such as the United Nations Treaty Series, European Treaty Series, or EUR-Lex, and other unique online collections of world treaties like WorldLII. In the United States and depending on other jurisdictions for research, a researcher would also need to consult Treaties in Force, Treaty Actions/TIAS, and the Department of State’s Treaty Affairs website for international agreements reported under the Case-Zablocki Act. The following list of indexes and helpful online collections is not exhaustive, but the list includes comprehensive portals for international environmental legal research:
- ECOLEX – This website created by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Conservation Union provides a wonderful portal to searching for bibliographic information of treaties by sub-topic of international environmental law, as well as national legislation and court decisions. Researchers may also use this portal to search for environmental law literature, such as monographs or articles.
- EUR-Lex– This is the comprehensive website of the European Union and official documents. Through simple search or an advanced search, researchers can locate the main European legal provisions for international environmental law.
- European Treaty Series (Council of Europe) – This digitized collection provided by the Council of Europe includes links to full-text agreements for international environmental law, as well as charts of ratification and signature and lists of reservations, understandings, and declarations.
- SICE – Trade Agreements – This site includes a nice compendium of links to full-text trade agreements by nation and by topical disciplines. The collection includes references to international environmental trade agreements, such as the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.
- UN Digital Library– The United Nations Digital Information System is essential for locating UN documentation by keyword or subject search for environmental law. In most cases, the system also links to full-text documents in a variety of languages and provides essential bibliographic information for research.
- UN Official Document System (“ODS”)– The United Nations search of official documents is helpful to search for ready-reference to documents in international environmental law and bibliographic information. However, full-text links are often not provided, and this system is not meant to be a substitute for research in the UN Digital Library (above).
- United Nations Law Collection (HeinOnline) – Search for international environmental law documentation (including treaties) in the United Nations collection archive. Subscription required.
- United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) – Through a link to the “Publications & Data” on the homepage of this site of the United Nations branch for the environment, users can locate the full-text of environmental conventions, protocols, and agreements by sub-topic. In addition, the portals provide helpful background information about the negotiation of the treaties and related reports and manuals, if applicable.
- United Nations Treaty Series (Recueil des traités) and Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General – Available through the United Nations website, this collection has all multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General and is searchable by topic or title of the treaty. The treaties are presented in .PDF format, so it is especially helpful for facsimiles of the original treaty documents.
- WorldLII – Through this initiative to digitize legal materials of nations of the countries of the world, researchers can locate applicable environmental treaties, especially for Australia, Asia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the South Pacific.
- WTO Legal Texts – This portal includes the 1986-94 Uruguay Round negotiations by the World Trade Organization, which includes a decision pertaining to trade in services and the environment.
4. Finding the National Laws of Foreign Nations
In addition to locating the appropriate treaties and agreements for research in international environmental law, a researcher then needs to uncover any national laws of the foreign nations involved in a research question. Therefore, the following sources can help provide background information about the legal systems of countries of the world or links to the national laws of foreign nations. One basic online foreign law database for overviews of foreign laws on particular subjects, which might be available through a subscription at a local academic law library, is Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World by Reynolds & Flores. The following list provides essential resources for uncovering national laws, more specifically, for international environmental law:
- Cornell’s Legal Information Institute: WorldLaw – An excellent portal for locating available codes and legislation of nations or regions of the World. This site also provides links to general international environmental legal materials.
- ECOLEX – This website developed by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Conservation Union provides a wonderful portal to searching for bibliographic information of treaties by sub-topic of international environmental law, as well as national legislation, court decisions, and literature.
- European Commission: Legislation Reports for Energy – Search for key legislation by country or keyword and links to Green Papers, White Papers, Legislation and Policies, and Case Studies for this subject.
- FAOLEX – Focusing on food, agriculture, and renewable natural resources, this collection of laws provides excellent bibliographic information about the national laws of countries of the world as well as the full-text of most legislation included in the database. The FAO Governing Bodies page provides access to basic texts, the Fishlex database, FAO treaties, and other publications.
- Foreign and Country Information (Northwestern University School of Law – Pritzker Legal Research Center): An excellent portal for accessing available research guides for countries of the world and laws by country or region or subject of research.
- Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation of the World – This substantial work and research guide for locating the codes and legislation of nations of the world by Reynolds and Flores is a crucial resource to consult when researching the international environmental laws of individual countries and understanding their legal systems. Subscription required.
- GlobaLex supplements the Foreign Law Guide database of Thomas Reynolds and Arturo Flores. The foreign law section has more than 150 guides on a wide range of foreign jurisdictions.
- GlobeLaw – This portal provides a comprehensive index with links to full-text documentation for treaties and national laws for international environmental law.
- Government Gazettes Online (University of Michigan) – Through an A-Z list of governments of the world, researchers can locate the laws released in the official gazettes of nations of the world by title or those published online through direct links to official gazette websites.
- Library of Congress: Guide to Law Online – This comprehensive portal of the available laws of the nations of the world includes sources for national legislation. Researchers would then need to search for the pertinent environmental codes and legislation within each nation.
- Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest (LexisNexis) – A nice summary of the laws on various topics, available sources, and description of the legal system for many nations of the world. A researcher can search by country and topic (environment) to retrieve the relevant national laws, if any, related to the environment. Subscription required.
- Sustainable Development and International Law (University of Denver Sturm College of Law Library) – This site provides comprehensive links to legislation and legal databases for international sustainable development research.
- WorldLII – Through the advanced search feature, researchers can locate all legislation contained in the database pertaining to the environment or a sub-topic for research by entering relevant search terms. In addition, researchers can locate codes and legislation by topic through the subject categories.
5. Searching Library Catalogs and Finding Print Resources
Before researching primary law, such as treaties and agreements and laws of the nations of the world, researchers might also consult their library catalog to uncover helpful treatises, books, or nutshells and basic background texts to better understand this area of international law. The following search terms and Library of Congress subject headings are successful when researching library catalogs:
- Climatic Changes—Government Policy (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Degradation—United States (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Economics (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Ethics (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Impact Analysis (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Law—Europe (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Law, International (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Law, International—Sources (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Law, Periodicals (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Management—International Cooperation (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Policy (Library of Congress)
- Environmental Protection (Library of Congress)
- Global Warming –Law and legislation (Library of Congress)
- Global Warming—Government Policy (Library of Congress)
- Greenhouse gases—Law and legislation (Library of Congress)
- International Relations—Environmental Aspects (Library of Congress)
- Law of the Sea (Library of Congress)
- Marine Resources Conservation—Environmental Aspects (Library of Congress)
- Liability for Environmental Damages, European Union (Library of Congress)
- Sustainable Development—(Country of Research) (Library of Congress)
- United Nations Convention on Climate Change (Library of Congress)
In addition to the above categories, which are not comprehensive but give the researcher a head start, it is useful to search terms in the title of the international environmental agreement of focus or also search sub-topics of international environmental law. To begin, a researcher could use terms from any of the sub-topics listed above in Section III.A: “Hazardous Waste,” “Nuclear Waste,” “Ocean and Marine Sources,” “Ozone and Protection of the Atmosphere,” “Pollution,” “Protection of Species and Wildlife,” “Sustainable Development,” and “Trade and the Environment.” It would be essential, though, to brainstorm search terms that are relevant for the sub-topic of research and issues involved in the facts of the research problem.
Selected Print Titles for Basic International Environmental Law include:
- Axelrod, Regina, VanDeveer, Stacy, and Downie, David, eds., The Global Environment: Institutions, Law, and Policy (CQ Press 2020)
- Bastmeijer, Kees, The Antarctic Environmental Protocol and Its Domestic Legal Implementation (Aspen Pub. 2003)
- Bernasconi-Osterwalder, et. al., Environment and Trade: A Guide to WTO Jurisprudence (Routledge, 2014)
- Bogdanovic, Slavko, International Law of Water Resources: Contribution of the International Law Association (1954-2000) (Kluwer Int’l 2001)
- Borzsak, Levente, The Impact of Environmental Concerns on the Public Enforcement Mechanism under EU Law: Environmental Protection in the 25th Hour (Kluwer 2011)
- Boyle, A.E. and Birnie, P.W., eds., Basic Documents on International Law and the Environment (Oxford Univ. Press 1996)
- Cassotta, Sandra, Environmental Damage and Liability Problems in a Multilevel Context: The Case of the Environmental Liability Directive (Kluwer 2012)
- Deketelaere, Kurt and Gekiere, Jan, eds., International, EC and US Environmental Law: A Comparative Selection of Basic Documents (Kluwer Int’l 2002)
- Frank, Veronica, The European Community and Marine Environmental Protection in the International Law of the Sea: Implementing Global Obligations at the Regional Level (Martinus Nijhoff 2007)
- Freestone, D., Barnes, R., and Ong, D., eds., Law of the Sea: Progress and Prospects (Oxford Univ. Press 2006)
- Gerrard, Michael B. and Kuh, Katrina, eds., The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects (ABA 2012)
- Guruswamy, Lakshman D., International Environmental Law in a Nutshell (West 2012)
- Guruswamy, Lakshman D., Sir Geoffrey W.R. Palmer, and Burns H. Weston, Supplement of Basic Documents to International Environmental Law and World Order (West 1999)
- International Environmental Law and Policy Series (Series with multiple authors and sub-topics) (Kluwer Law Int’l)
- Karova, Rozeta, Liberalization of Electricity Markets and Public Service Obligations in the Energy Community (Kluwer 2012)
- Kerbrat, Yann and Maljean-Dubois, Dandrine, eds., The Transformation of International Environmental Law (Hart 2011)
- Kiss, Alexandre and Shelton, Dinah, eds., International Environmental Law (Transnat’l Publ. 2003)
- Louka, Elli, International Environmental Law: Fairness, Effectiveness, and World Order (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006)
- Morrison, Fred L. and Rüdiger Wolfrum, eds., International, Regional and National Environmental Law (Kluwer Law Int’l 2000)
- Nanda, Ved P. and Pring, George, International Environmental Law for the 21st Century (Transnat’l Publ. 2012)
- Nolon, John R., ed., Compendium of Land Use Laws for Sustainable Development (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010)
- Principles of International Environmental Law (3 vols.) (St. Martin’s Press 1995)
- Robinson, Nicholas A., Agenda 21 & the UNCED Proceedings (Oceana 1992- )
- Rüster, Bernd and Simma, Bruno, eds., International Protection of the Environment: Treaties and Related Documents, Second Series (Oceana 1995)
- Sands, Philippe and Galizzi, Paolo, eds., Documents in International Environmental Law (Cambridge 2012)
- Sands, Philippe, Principles of International Environmental Law (Cambridge 2018)
- Torre-Schaub, Martha, Single Market and the Environment: Pathways to Integration (NYU School of Law 2006)
- Weiss, Edith Brown, International Environmental Law & Policy (Aspen 2006)
- Westra, Laura, Soskolne, Colin, and Spady, Donald, eds., Human Health and Ecological Integrity: Ethics, Law and Human Rights (Routledge 2017)
- Wilde, Mark, Civil Liability for Environmental Damage: Comparative Analysis of Law and Policy in Europe and the US (Kluwer 2013)
- Winter, Gerd, ed., Multilevel Governance of Global Environmental Change: Perspectives from Science, Sociology and the Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2006)
6. Lexis+ and Westlaw
Both Lexis and Westlaw have varying holdings for Foreign and International law, as well as International Agreements and Treaties. In Lexis+, the following databases are helpful for research in international environmental law:
- Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest (INTDIG)
- International Legal Materials (ILM)
- International Law Emerging Issues (EIC31)
- ENVIROLINE (ENVLNE)
- Environment: Mealey’s Combined Reports (MEAENV)
- Environmental Law Reporter: Treaties and Statutes (STAT)
- Environmental Law Institute: Guidance and Policy Documents (GUIDOC)
- Environmental Law Reporter: All (ALLELR)
- Environmental Law Reviews (ENVLR)
- Environmental Law Newsletters (ENVRN)
- EUR-Lex EU Law Database: Combined Files (ECLAW)
- Policy Papers (PLCYPA)
- U.S. Treaties in Force (USTIF)
- U.S. Treaties on LEXIS (USTRTY)
- CELEX EU Law Database (ECLAW)
In Westlaw, the following databases are helpful for international environmental legal research:
- International Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations (ENFLEX-INT)
- International Environmental Law Documents (INTLENVL)
- ENFLEX Documents for Foreign Nations (ENFLEX+(country abbreviation))
- Environment & Energy Publishing Environment and Energy Daily (EEP-EED)
- Environmental Data Resources – Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability System (EDR-CERCLIS)
- Environmental Litigation Specialist Multidatabase (ENV-SPECIALIST)
- Environmental Law Reviews, Texts, and Bar Journals Combined (ENV-TP)
- Environmental Law Reports (Europe-Cases) (ENV-RPTS)
- Global Warming Network Online Today (GLWM)
- Environmental Topical News (ENVNEWS)
- Europe Environment (EUROENV)
- Global Environmental Change Report (GLECR)
- International News (INTNEWS)
- International Legal Materials (ILM)
- United Kingdom Current Awareness Planning and Environment (UKCA-PLAN)
- U.S. Treaties & Other International Agreements (USTREATIES)
- United States Treaties in Force (USTIF)
- World Environment Report (WENVRPT)
- World Watch (WRWA)
7. Environmental Periodicals
There are many law journals, both domestic and international, which are devoted exclusively to environmental issues. These titles include the following prominent publications:
- Biannual Bulletin of Environmental Law (UNEP) (1994- )
- Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (1971-2018)
- Buffalo Environmental Law Journal (1994-2019)
- Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy (1990- )
- Columbia Journal of Environmental Law (1975- )
- Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum (1991- )
- Ecology Law Quarterly (Berkeley) (1971- )
- Environmental Law (Lewis & Clark) (1969- )
- Environmental Law Journal (NYU) (1992- )
- Environmental Policy and Law (1975- )
- European Energy and Environmental Law Review (1992- )
- Fordham Environmental Law Review (1989- )
- Georgetown Environmental Law Review (1988- )
- Global Environmental Law Annual (1993- )
- Harvard Environmental Law Review: HELR (1976- )
- International Environmental Reporter (Bloomberg BNA), Current Report (1978- )
- Journal of Environmental Law (1989- )
- Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation (Univ. of Oregon) (1985- )
- Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy (1998- )
- Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law (Florida State) (1994- )
- Journal of Law and the Environment (1985-1987)
- Pace Environmental Law Review (1982- )
- Stanford Environmental Law Society & Journal (1978- )
- Tulane Environmental Law Journal (1988- )
- (1990- )
- University of Denver Water Law Review (1997- )
- Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (1996- )
- Virginia Environmental Law Journal (1979- )
- West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law & Policy (Hastings) (1994- )
- William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review (1975- )
- Wisconsin Environmental Law Journal (1994-2002)
- Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy Working Paper Series (2004- )
- Yearbook of International Environmental Law (2001- )
- Yearbook of International Cooperation on Environment and Development
Recommended Indexes and Databases for Finding Law Review, Law Journal, and Scholarly Articles:
- CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online)
- Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
- PAIS International
- OCLCIndex to Legal Periodicals and Books
- Web of Science
- Academic Search Elite
- SSRN (Social Science Research Network)
- BEPress (Berkeley Electronic Press)
- Project Muse
The above indexes and databases are helpful for locating international law and interdisciplinary journal articles related to international environmental law.
8. Comprehensive Internet Sites and Research Guides
There are numerous comprehensive portals and research guides for international environmental law, which can help guide a researcher during research. The following is a selective list of some of the most helpful and comprehensive websites for research on this topic:
- CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law) – Access to annual reports and other CIEL publications by subtopics of biodiversity, chemicals, climate change, human rights and the environment, international financial institutions, law and communities, and trade and sustainable development.
- CIESIN (Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University) – Data and publications are searchable through gateways, such as SEDAC, IAI-DIS, and other quick links to CIESIN projects.
- Cornell’s Legal Information Institute – Links to environmental conventions and especially helpful for researching national law material by region of the world.
- ECOLEX – Entry portal provides searching of treaties, national legislation, court decisions, and literature, such as monographs and articles.
- Environment and International Law (World Bank) – Overview of resources and policies for Environment and Natural Resources Law, including World Bank publications.
- European Commission’s Environment Website – Comprehensive webpage for environmental initiatives and laws in Europe.
- European Environmental Law Programme (IUCN World Conservation Union) – An overview of environmental programs and activities in Europe.
- European Environmental Law (T.M.C. Asser Institute & Academy of European Law) – Helpful for locating European legislation, case law, national pages for country-specific laws and publications, and policy documents for international environmental law.
- FAOLex (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) – Search world treaties, laws, and regulations on food, agriculture, and renewable natural resources.
- Georgetown’s International Environmental Law Research Guide – Comprehensive research guide for available online and print resources.
- Globelaw International Environmental Law & Multilateral Conventions – Helpful links to topics, such as oceans, climate, biodiversity and biosafety, nuclear, toxics, and other topical materials. The site also links to multilateral conventions and national legal resources for international environmental law with an emphasis on UN documentation.
- International Environmental Law and Policy (American Univ. – Washington College of Law) – A reference source for international environmental law and policy, and the site provides links to the programme’s annual reports.
- International Environmental Law Research Centre – Helpful website for locating working papers and print publications in international environmental law in Europe and links to full-text articles.
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – Links to publications and primary resources by sub-topic of international environmental law.
- University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law Natural Resources – Exhaustive resource for primary and secondary sources in international environmental law.
9. Environmental Organizations, Institutes, and Statistics
There are many international organizations, including intergovernmental organizations (IGO’s) and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), which are helpful for identifying both primary and secondary sources for research. Because of the many sub-topics in international environmental law, some of these international environmental organizations are focused on a specialty topic in environmental law and only address limited sources for that topic. The following are helpful websites of organizations or institutes for expanding research to both secondary sources of law and statistics:
- Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law – Focus on regional organizational activities in Asia for environmental law and correlating documentation.
- CBD Information Centre and Document Search – An excellent repository and search feature for research narrowly focused on the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- CITES Resources and Official Documents – Exhaustive portal for research and available databases for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The site includes links to programmes, official documents, and other statistical publications.
- Commission for Environmental Cooperation – Publications and information resources by the commission, as well as links to documentation for sub-topics of international environmental law.
- Earth Trends Environmental Institute – Searchable databases of information by research topics, as well as maps, country profiles, features, and data tables. Research topics include Coastal and Marine Ecosystems; Water Resources and Freshwater Ecosystems; Climate and Atmosphere; Population, Health and Human Well-being; Economics, Business and the Environment; Energy and Resources; Biodiversity and Protected Areas; Agriculture and Food; Forests, Grasslands, and Drylands; and Environmental Governance and Institutions.
- EC Directorate-General for Energy and Transport – Links for energy agencies, case studies, and legislation for this sub-topic.
- Environmental Law Institute – Information about the institute projects, press releases, books, reports, regulatory guidance documents, and environmental law publications.
- Environment and International Humanitarian Law (ICRC) – Key documents, reports, and publications for international humanitarian law.
- Environment Organization Web Directory – A comprehensive directory of environmental organizations and agencies, including foreign nations.
- European Environment Agency (EEA) – Legal information by theme of environmental law, country, or search databases by research network.
- European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) – Research reports, data, research topics, and country information for European environmental law.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Statistical databases, country information, a virtual library, and publications for this specialty topic.
- FIELD (Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development) – Reports of FIELD projects, papers, annual reports, and books and other publications.
- GEO Data Portal (UN Environment Programme) – Data sets used by the UNEP and its Global Environmental Outlook report and other environmental assessments. Data may be displayed as maps, graphs, data tables, or other downloadable formats.
- Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) – With a focus on international water protection and assessment, this website provides links to GIWA methodology and regional reports for various transboundary waters.
- Greenpeace International – Prominent non-governmental organization for international environmental law and protection of world resources with links to national sites.
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Online archive of IAEA publications, documents, conventions, and reports.
- International Maritime Organization (IMO) – Overview of legal documentation, publications, and information resources for maritime issues.
- International Seabed Authority (ISA) – Helpful ISA data repository, official documents, and press releases.
- IUCN (World Conservation Union) – Information on numerous IUCN Programmes by sub-topic, publications, and policy documents. Other IUCN documents include position papers, resolutions, and recommendations.
- International Water Law Project – This site provides access to international water law documents, case law, tables and maps of watercourses, and an extensive bibliography of sources.
- North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation (EPA) / U.S.-Canada Environmental Cooperation (EPA) – North American focus on the NAAEC and associated documents, as well as a useful overview of this agreement.
- OAS: Department of Sustainable Development – Excellent description of international law for sustainable development and links to projects and initiatives by subject.
- OECD Data – Statistics, publications & documents, and information by country for topics in international environmental law.
- Pacific Institute (The World’s Water) – Provides information about water conservation books, water data, a water conflict bibliography, and other resources for international water law.
- Resources for the Future – Discussion papers, reports, briefs, books, and reference materials from RFF.
- SourceOECD – Links to books, statistics, datasets, and periodicals for economics and trade research.
- UNEP/GRID – Arendal, Norway (UNEP) – International news, maps and graphics library, reports, and overview of sub-topics and sources for international environmental law.
- United Nations Division for Sustainable Development – Documentation for sustainable development research from the UN Department for Social and Economic Affairs.
- United Nations Environment Programme: Basel Convention – Meeting documents, national reporting, and publications on global waste.
- United Nations Environment Programme: Publications – UNEP Annual Reports, atlases, periodicals, and GEO environmental yearbooks.
- United Nations Environment Programme: World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) – Highlights projects of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre and includes the latest news, publications, policy, and agreements.
- UNEP-Infoterra: The Global Environmental Information Exchange Network – A research network of national environmental information centres and agencies for environmental information, which users can access through national focal points and interactive maps.
- UNESCO Water Portal – Resources for international water law and links to news, events, and recent publications.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - Official documentation for the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, National Reports and Communications, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, and press releases.
- United Nations System-Wide “Earth Watch”– Excellent “data” portal for statistics and international programmes for international environmental data and emerging issues for sub-topics.
- World Heritage Center – Resources, publications, activities, and news and events for the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
- World Resources Institute – Resources for environmental law by research topic, data tables from EarthTrends, and other publications by research area of interest.
- World Water Council – Resources for international water law, including programs, world water forums, newsletters, reports, and other publications.
- World Wildlife Fund International – Recent news, facts, and publications by research topics, such as climate change, forests, freshwater, marine, species, and sustainability.
10. Environmental Law Blogs and Current Awareness Tools
Blogs, e-mail updates, and environmental websites with current news on international environmental law are a wonderful way to stay current while researching particular areas of law. The following are some websites, blogs, and news feeds that are helpful for supplementing research for this topic and staying current with the newest publications, research, and reports in international environmental law:
- BEPress (Berkeley Electronic Press) / Environmental Law Repository – Digital repository of journals, working papers, and other scholarly publications with e-mail updates.
- BNA’s International Environment Reporter: Current Report– E-mail updates for new cases, legislation, and other current awareness materials.
- ECONET – Institute for Global Communications (RSS feed) – A feed is available for current awareness for news items in ECONET.
- EnviroLink (XML feed) – A feed is available for EnviroLink’s news headlines.
- Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (XML feed / Facebook / Twitter) – An e-bulletin is available for researchers to stay up to date on E-LAW initiatives.
- Environmental Law Prof Blog – Monitoring this blog through an aggregator or another feed can be a wonderful way to keep track of new environmental law developments, including international environmental law.
- European Environment Agency Notification Service (RSS / YouTube / Twitter) – A feed service is available for the latest environmental reports, highlights, and briefings.
- UNEP-Infoterra News Online – News, reports, press releases, and a comprehensive events calendar for international environmental law.
- OECD News – News and recent books, statistics, and documents.
- SSRN (Social Science Research Network) – Search recent scholarship in the legal scholarship network or other interdisciplinary research papers submitted prior to and during publication.