In May 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”. This resolution established an intergovernmental working group to discuss the opportunity to open treaty negotiations to codify the fundamental principles of international environmental law into a treaty dubbed the Global Pact for the Environment. In May 2019, the intergovernmental working group completed its mandate and adopted a set of recommendations that were formally endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in August 2019. Contrarily to what the supporters of the Global Pact for the Environment project had hoped for, the working group only recommended the preparation of a “political declaration” without referring to the codification of the principles of international environmental law. This paper offers a critical commentary of the outcome of these negotiations. The analysis suggests that the decision to elaborate a Global Pact for the Environment would have entailed considerable risks for international environmental law and that if adopted, this instrument would not have necessarily helped to increase the problem-solving capacity of international environmental law. Based on the language used in the recommendation to prepare a “political declaration”, the paper also discusses some of the key elements that could shape and inform the upcoming negotiations of this declaration.
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