Multilateral environmental agreements and illegality

Cardesa-Salzmann, Antonio; Elliott, Lorraine and Schaedla, William H, eds. (2016) Multilateral environmental agreements and illegality. In: Handbook of Transnational Environmental Crime. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 299-321. ISBN 9781783476220

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A series of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), such as the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, follow policies and regulatory approaches that foresee restrictions on and supervision of international trade and/or transboundary movements of controlled commodities. These are crucial to fulfill the regimes’ underlying objectives of environmental protection. However, the inevitable corollary of such regulatory measures are transboundary black markets that pose a serious threat to these regimes’ effectiveness and, thus, to international environmental law. This paper appraises the distinctive ways in which a sample of key MEAs involved in the fight against transnational environmental crime – the Montreal Protocol, the Basel Convention and CITES – are addressing issues of illegality and criminality. Four conclusions are drawn. First, MEAs that face significant compliance issues due to emerging black markets in environmentally sensitive commodities have adopted a strategy of coordination and cooperation to increase their respective effectiveness. Second, inter-MEA coordination has furthered the significance of global and regional enforcement networks of practitioners as de facto norm-setting agents that have deeply influenced the normative development and implementation of MEAs. Third, this inter- and transnational process of cooperation has brought about a gradual criminalization of illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities. Fourth, and lastly, the evolution that has been highlighted in this paper clearly hints at an increasing awareness of TEC for environmental regime effectiveness and for the discrete emergence of a body of transnational environmental criminal law.


Cardesa-Salzmann, Antonio ORCID logoORCID:; Elliott, Lorraine and Schaedla, William H