Decisions by Topic: International Legal Instruments & Mechanisms
Commission on Sustainable Development
[Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish] 4th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
E/CN.17/1996/38 - International legal instruments and mechanisms

Decision 4/6. International legal instruments and mechanisms

1. The Commission on Sustainable Development, having examined the report of
the Secretary-General on international legal instruments and mechanisms
(E/CN.17/1996/17 and Add.1), welcomes the progress made in reflecting the
integrated nature of sustainable development in international legal instruments
and in the further development of international law related to the
implementation of Agenda 21.

2. The Commission takes note of the report of the Expert Group on the
Identification of Principles of International Law for Sustainable Development,
which was made available to the Commission as a background document, and
expresses its appreciation of the work of the Expert Group, which was convened
by the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development of the

3. The Commission recalls that at its second session it requested the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to study further the concept, requirements
and implications of sustainable development and international law; welcomed the
adoption by the Governing Council of UNEP of decision 18/9 on the further
development of international environmental law aiming at sustainable
development; 10/ and noted with appreciation the steps undertaken by UNEP
towards the review of the Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic
Review of Environmental Law scheduled for 1997 as an important contribution to
achieving the tasks set out in Agenda 21.

4. The Commission recognizes the potential value of identifying generally
recognized principles of international law as they pertain to sustainable
development and decides to keep this issue under review at its session in 1997
with a view to its further consideration by the General Assembly at its special
session, and to take into account the results of the review of the Montevideo
Programme, as appropriate.

5. The Commission calls upon Governments to consider, as appropriate, the work
of the Expert Group in the development of both national legislation and national
policies for sustainable development, and requests Governments to provide
information on their experiences in this regard.

6. The Commission considers flexible approaches as important in international
law-making, as they allow international consensus to develop, especially under
new scientific and technical information, and recognizes the positive role of
framework conventions and of non-legally binding instruments as steps in the
evolution of international rule-making related to sustainable development.

7. The Commission emphasizes the necessity, as recognized in UNEP Governing
Council decision 18/9, of further exploring, in the interest of sustainable
development, mechanisms for dispute settlement or avoidance and, with the aim of
preventing international disputes, for facilitating the implementation of
international environmental instruments by assisting and encouraging parties to
fulfil their obligations and commitments, and notes that, in the case of several
international environmental instruments, such mechanisms have either become
operative, have been established, or are at present under discussion. In this
context, the Commission notes the importance of compliance and monitoring
mechanisms of international agreements, including reporting requirements, and
stresses the importance of national and local capacity-building aimed at
improving compliance, monitoring, inspection and enforcement of international

8. The Commission urges the international community to continue to develop
procedures and mechanisms that promote informed decisions, mutual understanding
and confidence-building with a view to avoiding or resolving disputes.

9. The Commission recommends the exploration of more effective participation
of major groups in the elaboration of international legal instruments and
mechanisms in the field of sustainable development.

10. The Commission recognizes the administrative burden imposed, particularly
on the developing countries, by the implementation of international agreements,
and recognizes the need for consolidation and integration of procedures, and for
cooperation among the secretariats of different conventions to this end.

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