Environmental accords and treaties aim to regulate or manage human impact on the environment with the intention of protecting it. Humans impact the environment, often in negative ways. The effects of pollution are widespread and apparent, from trash along highways, to oil spills to fields of plastic waste in the ocean. Most environmental problems are not confined by borders but are global in scale, and thus they require the involvement of many countries to combat the problem. Though the environment is a broad category, these kinds of treaties usually have a specific focus, targeting ocean ecosystems or pollution and climate, for example, among other categories of concern. The treaties and accords are legally binding and governed by international law. However, despite worthy intentions, treaties and accords do not automatically bring about compliance.
The following is a list of the United Arab Emirates’ most important environmentally focused accords and treaties. Some have been ratified via United Arab Emirates' membership in the United Nations, with its 193 member countries.
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Entered into Force: May 5, 1992
Number of Signatories: 187
Objective: To reduce transboundary movements of wastes subject to the Convention to a minimum consistent with the environmentally sound and efficient management of such wastes; to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated and ensure their environmentally sound management as closely as possible to the source of generation; to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.
Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Entered into Force: The CTBT will not formally enter into force until eight remaining "nuclear-capable states" sign and ratify the treaty; to date, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States have signed but not ratified the treaty; India, North Korea, and Pakistan have not signed it.
Number of Signatories: 170
Objective: Bans all nuclear weapons test explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments.
Convention on Biological Diversity
Entered into Force: December 29, 1993
Number of Signatories: 195
Objective: To develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and to address the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)
Entered into Force: July 1, 1975
Number of Signatories: 183
Objective: To protect certain endangered species from overexploitation by means of a system of import/export permits.
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention)
Entered into Force: August 30, 1975
Number of Signatories: 87
Objective: To promote effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by dumping and to encourage regional agreements supplementary to the Convention.
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar)
Entered into Force: December 21, 1975
Number of Signatories: 170
Objective: To stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future.
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Entered into Force: February 16, 2005
Number of Signatories: 192
Objective: To further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing the national programs of developed countries aimed at this goal and by establishing percentage reduction targets for the developed countries.
Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Entered into Force: January 1, 1989
Number of Signatories: 197
Objective: To protect the ozone layer by controlling emissions of substances that deplete it.
Paris Agreement Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Entered into Force: November 4, 2016
Number of Signatories: 190
Objective: To improve upon and replace the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier international treaty designed to curb the release of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming; the Paris Agreement’s goal is to hold global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius—preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius—compared to pre-industrial levels and to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.
Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 (MARPOL)
Entered into Force: October 2, 1983
Number of Signatories: 158
Objective: To preserve the marine environment in an attempt to completely eliminate pollution by oil and other harmful substances and to minimize accidental spillage of such substances.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS)
Entered into Force: November 16, 1994
Number of Signatories: 167
Objective: To provide a comprehensive legal regime for the sea and oceans.
Note: The UAE has signed but not ratified this agreement.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa
Entered into Force: December 26, 1996
Number of Signatories: 196
Objective: To combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through an integrated framework that is consistent with Agenda 21, employing international cooperation and partnership arrangements, and effective action at all levels.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Entered into Force: March 21, 1994
Number of Signatories: 196
Objective: To achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
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