Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview
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Ensuring Compatibility between Multilateral
Environmental Agreements and GATT/WTO

Richard G. Tarasofsky


It is now beyond dispute that the relationship between multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and international trade rules ought to be synergistic and mutually supportive.1 Paragraph 2.20 of Agenda 21 puts it as follows:

International cooperation in the environmental field is growing, and in a number of cases trade provisions in multilateral environment agreements have played a role in tackling global environmental challenges. Trade measures have thus been used in certain specific instances, where considered necessary, to enhance the effectiveness of environmental regulations for the protection of the environment. Such regulations should address the root causes of environmental degradation so as not to result in unjustified restrictions on trade. The challenge is to ensure that trade and environment policies are consistent and reinforce the process of sustainable development.

Awareness of potential points of friction between the rules of the multilateral trading system and MEAs containing trade-related environmental measures (TREMs) is a long-standing one. For example, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which was deeply involved in the development and negotiation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES),2 sought and received an opinion from the Secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)3 to the effect that the third IUCN draft proposal appeared to be consistent with the preamble of Art. XX of GATT.4 Fourteen years later, the negotiators of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

See, e.g., S. Lin & S. Bullen, Trade Provisions in Multilateral Environmental Agreements, in UNEP's NEW WAY FORWARD: ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ( S. Lin ed., 1995).
12 I.L.M. 1085, U.K.T.S. 101 (1976) Cmnd. 6647.
Letter from Gardner Patterson, Assistant Director-General, Department of Trade Policy, GATT, to F.G. Nichols, Deputy Director-General, IUCN (Feb. 24, 1971), described in Chris Wold , The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, in THE USE OF TRADE MEASURES IN SELECT MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS 165 ( R. Houseman et al. eds., 1995).
55 U.N.T.S. 194.


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Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7
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