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Open AccessArticle

Activities of Environmental Convention-Secretariats: Laws, Functions and Discretions

Department of Ecotechnology and Sustainable Building Engineering, Mid Sweden University, SE-831 25 Östersund, Sweden
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3116;
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 7 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
PDF [266 KB, uploaded 3 June 2019]


Multilateral Environmental Agreements—MEAs—are indispensable legal frameworks for environmental sustainability and also define the operating rules of their implementation bodies (“Secretariats”). The contribution assesses in how far the norms defining Secretariats’ functions differ and also reflect on actual functions for three MEAs, namely (1) the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora-CITES (1973), (2) the Convention on Biological Diversity—CBD (1992), and (3) the Convention on Migratory Species—CMS (1979). It does so by comparative legal interpretation of the main norms of these MEAs laying down the functions of its respective Secretariats as well as an in-depth review of academic literature about these functions. The results for these three conventions divide into nine functional areas and show an unexpectedly wide range of different functions laid down in the conventions as well as extensive variety in the discretion for many of these functional areas. Some potential explanations of these formal differences are provided. The paper further finds that actually executed functions may not be fully covered by the underlying legal norms but rather by “flexible” highest governing bodies of MEAs and concludes that occasionally an unusual legislative style was chosen, and shows potential solutions and future research directions. View Full-Text
Keywords: convention; secretariat; function; difference; biodiversity; legal; agreement; parties; UNEP; global environmental governance convention; secretariat; function; difference; biodiversity; legal; agreement; parties; UNEP; global environmental governance

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Mauerhofer, V. Activities of Environmental Convention-Secretariats: Laws, Functions and Discretions. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3116.

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