25 April 2019: The co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on possible gaps in international environmental law circulated draft elements of recommendations for the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal, and Amal Mudallali, Permanent Representative of Lebanon, prepared the elements based on views expressed by governments during two substantive sessions of the Working Group.

The UNGA created the Working Group in May 2018 through resolution 72/277 (‘Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’). As part of its mandate, it considered a technical report by the UN Secretary-General identifying and assessing possible gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments, with a view to strengthening their implementation. The resolution also provides for the Working Group to consider, if necessary, the scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument, with a view to making recommendations to the UNGA during the first half of 2019.

The Working Group held its first substantive session from 14-18 January 2019, followed by the second session from 18-20 March 2019, both in Nairobi, Kenya. The third and final anticipated session convenes in May.

In the letter introducing the elements, which will serve as the basis for discussion at the third session, the Co-Chairs express confidence that the elements “can gather the support of delegations” and facilitate the fulfillment of the Group’s mandate. They recommend that the elements are considered “as a package.”

By the proposed draft elements, the Group would recommend that the UNGA, inter alia:

  • Consider adopting an international instrument at a high-level UN conference, with a view to strengthening the implementation of international environmental law;
  • Establish a preparatory committee prior to that conference, to make substantive recommendations on elements of an international instrument;
  • Determine a specific timeline by which the negotiations would take place and reach a conclusion; and
  • Establish that the negotiations are to be open to all UN Member States, members of specialized agencies and parties to the multilateral environment agreements, with others invited as observers in accordance with the past practice of the UN.

The third substantive session of the Working Group will take place from 20-22 May 2019, at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Pre-sessional consultations are scheduled to take place on 19 May 2019. [Draft Elements][SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of the Global Pact for the Environment process]