Chapter 39 of Agenda 21 deals with International Legal Instruments and
Mechanisms and is concerned with assisting States in promoting sustainable
development at national and international levels through enhancing the
effectiveness of such instruments and mechanisms.
The Commission on Sustainable Development reviewed Chapter 39 at its second
and fourth sessions. It was also one of the subjects addressed by the General
Assembly in 1997 Earth Summit in its Resolution S/19-2 on the Programme for
the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. At the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, new and emerging issues were addressed in
of the Plan of Implementation (WSSD, 2002) in respect of legal developments in
the area of sustainable development.
Three Conventions are closely associated with the UN Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED, or Earth Summit): the Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the
Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD). Both the Rio Declaration on
Environment and Development and the Statement of Forest Principles were also
adopted at UNCED.
on Biological Diversity was opened for signature at UNCED and entered into
force on 29 December 1993. On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the
Parties to the Convention adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which
entered into force 11 September 2003. The secretariat of CBD is located
in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Convention on Climate Change, was also opened for signature at UNCED and
entered into force on 21 March 1994. Its Kyoto Protocol was adopted at
the third session of the Conference of the Parties, in Kyoto, Japan on 11
December 1997, and it was opened for signature at UN Headquarters in March
1999. The Secretariat of UNFCCC is located in Bonn, Germany.
The issue of desertification was highlighted at UNCED in Chapter 12 of
Agenda 21. The Conference called upon the UN General Assembly to
establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare, by June 1994,
a Convention to Combat
Desertification, particularly in Africa. In December 1992, the
General Assembly agreed and adopted resolution 47/188. As a result, the
Convention was negotiated, adopted in Paris on 17 June 1994 and opened for
signature there on 14-15 October 1994. It entered into force on 26
December 1996. the Secretariat of CCD is located in Bonn, Germany.
The Statement of Forest
Principles was adopted at UNCED, and, in 1995, both an Intergovernmental
Panel on Forests (IPF) and an Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) were
established under the UN Commission on Sustainable Development In 2000,
ECOSOC established the United
Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), to promote “… the management,
conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to
strengthen long-term political commitment to this end…”based on the Rio
Declaration, the Forest Principles, Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and the outcome of
the IPF/IFF Processes and other key forest policy milestones.
Declaration contains 27 principles of sustainable development. Among
them are several that have had a strong influence on both international and
national law. Examples include intergeneration and intragenerational equity;
the precautionary principle; the polluter-pays principle; common but
differentiated responsibilities; participation and access to information and
judicial and administrative proceedings; environmental impact assessment and