The massive accumulation of plastics in marine environments is internationally recognized as one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time. This work examines the relevant international legal framework applying to land-based sources of plastic pollution, as well as its implementation at various levels of governance. Against the backdrop of the dynamics of recent policy formulation in this field, it outlines the main developments in global policy and provides a snapshot inventory of the most important obligations of states related to plastic pollution mitigation. Having laid the foundations for commitments to protect and preserve the marine environment and its biological diversity, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is at the core of the legal analysis. It plays an important role with regard to both coherence and international cooperation. The book evaluates the regime’s major traits and tests their practical impacts on the challenge of massive plastic accumulation in marine environments. It identifies the main barriers and opportunities, and points out the possible building blocks of an enhanced regime. Specifically, the book suggests the adoption of a global, legally binding instrument on marine plastic pollution mitigation from land-based sources.

The legacy of the plastic age is persistent, potentially toxic and pervasive. If humankind would disappear from the world in this very moment, it would remain one of our long-lasting traces. Plastics would outlive our crop fields and gardens, and endure in the ruins of our houses, streets and towns, bridges and magnificent buildings, but also in the soil, rivers and seas. Even if we manage to stop plastic input into the ocean, existing plastic debris would continue to break down into fragments in the form of microplastics and nanoplastic particles for hundreds of years to come.1389 These fragments and particles accumulate ecotoxic substances on their surface and are susceptible to transferring them to animal tissues when entering the food chain. Owing to the high and potentially irreversible impacts on the environment and human health, the economic impacts on the shipping and fishing industries and tourism in particular, and the costs related to these impacts, plastics have come into focus of regulatory efforts at all levels of governance. Today, plastic pollution, especially of the oceans, is high on the policy agenda of numerous international bodies and organisations. Negotiations for an international agreement are practically on the doorstep.

The process related to the reception of the topic in the political and legal agenda of individual states and the international community is exemplary. It shows how general obligations, as stipulated in unclos, must be filled with specific content at different levels of governance in order to be fully effective for the problem at stake. The framework provided by unclos is tested and strained by specific challenges related to marine plastic pollution from land-based sources. Various barriers have been pointed out in this regard. Some of them are related to the materials themselves, social behaviour patterns, or economic circumstances and inequalities; others are legal in nature. Legal and other barriers are inherently interrelated. The main findings with regard to these barriers shall be brought to the point once again in this concluding chapter. This chapter also looks ahead, as there are various ways on the horizon in which the identified challenges can be dealt with.

1 Challenges Related to Plastic Materials, Social Behaviour and Economic Capacities

Their high degree of biological inertness, the toxic or ecotoxic effects of some of their components or additives, and their abundance constitute some of the most challenging features of plastic wastes. Moreover, plastic debris spreads easily and widely, so that macro- and microplastics, and most likely nanoplastics, occur in all compartments of the sea, from the surface to the seabed. Owing to the wide dispersal and constant fragmentation, open-ocean clean-up projects have had little success, and no technology has yet been created that would allow large-scale deplasticization of the ocean without endangering the life that occurs there.1390

Yet, while there is growing awareness with regard to the size, invasiveness and structural nature of the problem and increasing public outcry, plastic production continues to grow. This typical contradiction between people’s ecological ideas and their actual behaviour may partially be explained by the sluggishness of the regulatory framework conditions in the sudden event of environmental problems. In the case of plastic pollution, challenging factors in this regard include the cumulative and indirect nature of the risk associated with the production, use and disposal of plastics, the diffuseness of this form of pollution and its global scale. As a typical collective action problem, most people contribute to (marine) plastic pollution in one way or the other, but no one is held responsible for it. The protection of the oceans against plastic pollution from land-based sources inherently is a shared responsibility, involving all actors within the life cycle of plastic products, and all levels of governance.

Marine plastic pollution from land-based sources is closely related to inadequate waste management infrastructure, especially in densely populated coastal areas of low and lower-middle-income countries. Illegal dumping sites, often situated close to rivers or shores, are particularly widespread in such areas, where rapid urban expansion comes along with poor waste management services. Poor waste management in developing countries is partially due to inadequate financing and insufficient administrative capacities, and the high costs related to waste management infrastructure and activity. Low capacities often come along with information barriers, including a lack of data on products and wastes, low transparency and a lack of public awareness and good sanitary practices.1391 Developing countries moreover face a couple of technological barriers: owing to the different waste composition, waste management practices from high-income countries, such as waste incineration, are not necessarily a valid disposal option for some regions. Plastic products are also often designed with no regard for the prevailing conditions in the receiving countries, including a number of East Asian countries. Finally, financial and economic barriers are often complemented by regulatory deficits and limited enforcement.1392

On the other hand, marine plastic pollution is related to social behaviour, consumption and production patterns and the economic system as a whole. While waste collection and disposal systems in high-income countries often are more sophisticated and benefit form high-level technologies, the conclusion that these countries do not contribute to marine plastic pollution seems erroneous. As high-income countries have the highest per capita waste generation rates, their so-called grey footprint may be considerable when taking into account production wastes from goods consumed domestically but produced abroad and shipped globally.1393 A grey plastic footprint also includes plastic wastes generated by inhabitants during their holidays abroad. Packaging and disposable goods make up a large proportion of the wastes encountered in marine environments, along with primary and secondary microplastic particles from tyre wear, laundering, cosmetics, plastic production and abrasives. The wide and improvident use of disposable or non-recoverable plastic items is a contributing factor to what seems an avoidable part of the environmental, social and economic costs related to marine plastic pollution. With regard to microplastics such as from laundering and tyre wear, even high-income countries have not yet been able to master many technological challenges and are dependent on innovation from academia and the private sector.

In the absence of effective clean-up technologies, prevention and input reduction appear to be the key to any successful mitigation strategy.1394 Moreover, such mitigation strategies need to be based on a life-cycle approach, cost internalization and the polluter pays principle, and transnational support and solidarity. They need to address all relevant actors and take into account different regulatory areas in a holistic manner. Enhanced consumer and producer responsibilities and a sustainable resource management are key elements, as is the regulation of packaging, disposables and non-recoverable microplastics.

2 Legal Framework and Regulatory Challenges

unlcos provides a relatively strong general framework on the protection of the marine environment and the regulation of marine pollution – a framework that essentially builds on global and regional cooperation. When interpreted in the light of contemporary international environmental law, then the obligations as contained in unclos are based on the core elements of due diligence, environmental impact assessment and precaution. unclos and relevant case law moreover suggest that in the adoption of national mitigation measures, due regard has to be given to the conservation and the preservation of ecosystems. The general obligations of states under unclos and related instruments are given even more weight by acknowledgement by the international community of the severity and global scope of the problem, amounting to a common concern of humankind.

Yet, as a framework instrument, unclos does not by itself give a sufficient response to the problem of marine plastic pollution. The general duty to protect and preserve the marine environment, as stipulated in unclos, needs to be substantiated by internationally agreed legally binding standards on land-based sources of pollution. Challenges in this regard include deficiencies in the implementation and enforcement of existing standards and regulations, regulatory lacunae, including with regard to the geographical scope of application of legally binding commitments, and a need for coordination and coherence at the global and regional levels.1395

A Implementation and Enforcement

Difficulties in the implementation and enforcement of unclos Part xii are related to the dispersed nature of marine plastic pollution, its diffuse sources and cumulative effects, as well as the weak link between a potential polluter and such negative impacts. The traditional, interstate enforcement mechanisms, which unclos widely relies on, do not seem to provide an effective means to appropriately address these challenges. Uncertainties remain with regard to due diligence obligations and the standard of care, especially in a developing-country context (is existing regulation of plastic production, use and disposal in a given country sufficient to conform to unclos obligations?), the threshold of environmental damage (is there an acceptable level of plastic input into the seas? What would that level be? How can environmental damage be adequately quantified?) or the burden of proof (in order to bring a case under unclos against a specific country, is it enough to show that beached plastics stem from a factory of that country?). Further uncertainties relate to the protection of domestic areas, including highly sensible coastal ecosystems, and the global commons, such as the high seas and the deep seabed.

Guidance for implementation can be provided by various political commitments by the international community and several international and regional bodies, as well as by regional schemes on the protection and conservation of the marine environment, especially the regional seas conventions and protocols addressing land-based sources of pollution. The analysis of the regional schemes has shown that they complement the global framework and form an integral and essential part of the current regime, as they define clear standards with respect to land-based pollution sources and plastics. The effectiveness of the regional frameworks, however, depends heavily on political willingness, as well as geopolitical and economic conditions. The regional system thus bears a risk of regulatory fragmentation and a pluri-standard regime, in which especially developing countries, and among them some of the most polluting countries, do not commit or benefit. Nonetheless, the experience that has been gained through the regional programmes allows the identification of important building blocks for a functioning system in terms of implementation and enforcement. These include the creation of a compliance facilitation procedure with reporting obligations by states on national implementation, as well as global implementation review and a strong capacity-building scheme.

At the national level, implementation is uneven and reflects much the same patterns as identified at the regional level. Poor implementation and enforcement, including in Asian countries, is due to low capacities, but also to a lack of clear targets and firm numerical limits in regulations.1396 Poor waste management services are particularly typical in rural areas, in which little disposal options are available. Improvements in waste management practices depend on available funding and capacity-building, including through technology and knowledge transfer.1397 On the other hand, national experiences show how states can set an enabling environment and stimulate behavioural changes and innovation in product design and technologies through the adoption of mitigation policies, regulatory measures and a broad range of market-based instruments. Behavioural changes include consumption reduction of disposable items, packaging, non-recoverable microplastics and hardly recyclable products, including compounds, but also littering reduction, increased recycling, and disposal control. Industry involvement seems key, including through public–private partnerships, green public procurement, and the promotion of best practices and technologies. National implementation moreover shows that the measures’ effectiveness much depend on information, education and public awareness.1398

Due to the large trade flows in plastics, trade policies also play an essential role. In particular, coherent and coordinated trade policy responses have great potential to induce a shift towards more sustainable resource management. International standards can serve a unified approach to plastics in this context and also play a role with regard to wto consistency, especially under the tbt Agreement.

B Regulatory Lacunae

The absence of legally binding standards in the main polluting regions (including East Asia and South East Asia) is one of the most evident gaps of the regime.1399 Apart from the Basel Convention as amended in May 2019, which regulates transboundary movements of plastic wastes in particular, there are no global legally binding standards on land-based sources of plastic pollution, nor is the Regional Seas Programme sufficiently effective in these regions. The geographical scope of the regional seas programmes is further limited by the fact that internal waters, watersheds and areas beyond national jurisdiction are usually not covered. There are also geographical gaps in the coverage of relevant global agreements, as, for instance, the US is not a member of unclos, the cbd or the Basel Convention.

Since unclos Part xii gives clear priority to national regulation in the field of land-based pollution sources, there is little international control with regard to the most problematic type of pollution sources. Although unclos stipulates that international standards, including non-legally binding standards such as the gpa, sdg 14 or the Honolulu Strategy, must be taken into account in the adoption of national measures, the weakened incorporation mechanism is not effective enough in this area to give sufficient normative content to the general due diligence obligations under Part xii.

Instead, guidance for implementation can be drawn from the regional conventions. Most relevant instruments request their parties to regulate several industry sectors and activities that are major sources of plastic pollution, and to formulate action plans, programmes and measures in this regard, including the phase-out of products. They define standards on how to regulate and control point and non-point sources of marine pollution and require states to set up a national system of authorization, monitoring, and inspection. Environmental management principles, such as the precautionary principle or approach, the polluter pays principle, the principle of sustainable development, and the ecosystem approach, play an important role in some of the regional instruments on land-based sources, including from the newer generation. The use of bats and beps, as well as reference to the gpa, is also highly common among these instruments. Some regional instruments provide for the possibility of defining marine protected areas, require their parties to take account of hotspots and endangered species, or set up more detailed standards on environmental impact assessment. Such specific standards, as stipulated in some regional instruments, can serve as a basis for reporting obligations and compliance assessment procedures.1400

In order to close the significant geographical gap in the scope of the regime and to especially include developing countries with high levels of mismanaged plastics, harmonized mitigation standards must be anchored at the international level. Yet, in order for these states to be effectively integrated into a system of detailed binding standards in the field of land-based plastic pollution, a much stronger and more effective capacity-building system is needed. Without the pledge of financial resources and the necessary technology and knowledge transfer, the integration is likely to have little impact and does not seem politically realistic. With regard to plastics, technology and knowledge transfer is important with respect to waste collection and disposal systems, sewage and wastewater treatment, chemical safety, green design, recycling, biodegradable materials, monitoring methods and methodology, and valuable clean-up technologies. Financial assistance is needed for covering administrative and institutional costs related to plastic pollution mitigation and prevention (including for regional seas offices), as well as the costs related to waste infrastructure, waste management, education and awareness campaigns, and coastal cleanups. Information exchange at both national and regional levels, and legal formation are also highly important.

C Coherence

As marine litter affects many different regulatory areas, coherence is an issue of concern at all levels of governance. At the national level, these regulatory areas are usually managed by different ministries or political entities. The regulation of packaging or products, for example, often falls within the competence of the economic authorities, which sometimes lack of the necessary environmental background knowledge and may have a more powerful position in internal decision-making processes when compared to environmental offices. As a consequence, other interests, including industrial or health-related (e.g. hygiene standards in packaging) may be placed above the interest in reducing marine litter. Internal fragmentation is a hindering factor in the adoption of integral plastic waste mitigation strategies and life-cycle management of plastics.

At the international level, several legal instruments are relevant to marine plastic pollution, some of which have been ratified almost universally. The member states and bodies of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, as well as the cbd, cms and other biodiversity-related conventions have included the plastic issue in their focus and addressed it within their scope of application. They have commissioned studies, drafted policy guidelines, promoted awareness-raising and adopted measures in their specific field of activity. The Basel Convention has adjusted its scope of application to now include plastic wastes and to better address them throughout their life cycle. As marine plastic pollution is a cross-cutting concern involving different fields of law, none of these instruments covers all relevant aspects in a holistic way. In order to reduce the risk of fragmentation, the bodies to these conventions work in a mutually supportive way, with increasing cooperation and information exchange.

With its reference mechanism, unclos has the potential to play a bridging role and strengthen coherence. In accordance with unclos Article 237 and the principle of systemic integration, the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment includes an obligation to take other relevant instruments into account and implement corresponding duties to the extent that they are applicable and compatible with unclos Part xii.

The coherence issue is potentially more complex with respect to instruments that do not serve congruent policy objectives, such as international trade regulation agreements. There have so far been no formal disputes specifically related to plastic pollution mitigation measures under wto dispute settlement. The wto dispute settlement system currently bears the risk of complete paralysis as the re-election of Appellate Body members is blocked.1401 In view of the recent proliferation of national (or local) measures specifically designed to reduce marine plastic pollution, concrete reform options for wto obligations have nevertheless been identified. On the one hand, states should be allowed to treat products with different ecological footprints (and different marine pollution footprints) differently, regardless of whether they differ in physical properties. This demand has already been formulated on several occasions in the context of the long-running debate on non-product-related ppms. With respect to plastic products, typical non-product-related ppms include, for instance, pellet and waste management during production and transportation. On the other hand, the nexus requirement should be reconsidered. With regard to (the trading of) a specific plastic product, preventive measures that effectively reduce the risk of plastic accumulation in the marine environment should be admissible whether or not a state has access to the sea (or any other type of territorial link), if such measures are designed in the least trade-distorting way. The wto’s role in the fight against plastic pollution can go beyond such legal adjustments, e.g. by serving as a platform to promote transparency in plastic trade flows or trade policy coherence.

In general, wto obligations are geared towards cooperation instead of coercion, the avoidance of discrimination and protectionism, joint negotiations, harmonized internationally agreed standards and the creation of a level playing field.1402 If these objectives are adequately taken into account in the adoption of measures, compatibility with wto law is usually unproblematic. In this sense, promotion of internationally agreed standards on plastic pollution mitigation from land-based sources goes in line with the strategic thrust of the wto regime. Such standards would potentially alleviate conflicts, enhance policy harmonization and rise the minimal level of protection in support of a level playing field. Measures such as bans of non-recoverable microplastics in products, which often end up in waterways and the sea, could be more easily justified before a wto panel when required by an internationally agreed instrument. The same is true for technical regulations, such as quantitative or qualitative packaging regulations. The formulation of internationally agreed standards would thus promote coherence between the two regimes and their mutual supportiveness. It would moreover strengthen the member states’ regulatory authority to enact environmental legislation under the wto regime.

3 Successes and Way Forward

To support the decision-making process, the UN Environment Executive Director was requested by the unea to present reports on both short- and long-term approaches to the problem of marine plastic debris and microplastics, as well as on assessment results with regard to the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and subregional governance strategies and approaches.1403 The studies are part of a dynamic process towards a common response to the challenge of marine plastic pollution by the international community. The outcome of the process is currently open, even if the call for an international agreement is loud.1404 The central fora of discussion in this context are the unea and the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics that has been established at unea-3.1405 The extert group could occasionally be replaced by an intergovernmental negotiation committee, e.g. at unea-5 in February 2022. At the beginning of this process is the recognition of the fundamental effects and severe impacts of plastic pollution and their global scale, which are of concern to the international community as a whole. A thorough review of the legal framework in this area constitutes an essential part of the process. The clarifications in this book contributed to this review and have been fed into the process.

The UN Environment reports present various options for further action, including the option of creating an international legally binding instrument on (marine) plastic pollution and microplastics.1406 Since then, the possible content of such an agreement has been widely discussed. Possible building blocks include the following pillars:

  1. monitoring and reporting: including harmonisation of definitions and methodologies; national inventories on plastic production and use, plastic waste management and trade; periodic reporting on national action; implementation assessment;
  2. plastic pollution prevention: including global objectives; national action plans; labelling and product design standards and certification schemes;
  3. coordination: including through reference to different international instruments and bodies; definition of their role;
  4. technical and financial support: including scientific and socio-economic assessment panels; implementing agencies; financial mechamisms; monitoring and reporting; and a compliance facilitation mechanism.1407

The present analysis confirms the need for such a plastics-specific, binding global instrument and identifies similar possible building blocks of such an agreement: with the overriding goal of minimizing global plastic waste generation and eliminating input into the marine environment, indispensable elements include harmonized pollution prevention standards with regard to the whole life-cycle of plastics and both point and non-point sources, and a strong capacity-building scheme. A global instrument on plastics would inform the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment with regard to plastics and could provide a platform for states to formulate national commitments towards a sustainable future in implementation of plastic-related targets under sdg 14.

National implementation of global standards can take place through nationally determined implementation targets1408 relating to different areas (such as waste collection, recycling or consumption rates) depending on the situation of a specific country. Implementation takes place in accordance with environmental principles such as the polluter pays principle and sustainable development, and through various tools, including regulatory measures and mbis, green public procurement and educational measures. With regard to substantive obligations, the role of environmental management principles and institutional arrangements, the instrument could build upon the experiences gained under the regional instruments on marine pollution and the gpa.

In order to strive for harmonized standards, capacity needs, especially of developing countries and small island states, must be identified and taken into account. An effective and efficient funding scheme is essential to provide for the necessary means of implementation, including through the mobilization of financial resources from public and private sources. The scheme should also build on the cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation, as well as the development, transfer and dissemination of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries. Assistance should be provided to governments in accessing available resources for marine litter activities.1409

Enforceability of agreed standards depends on flanking procedural obligations related to monitoring and reporting, compliance facilitation, implementation review, and the institutional set-up.1410 A compliance facilitation procedure would complement and supplement the unclos dispute settlement regime. A special instrument on marine plastic pollution in furtherance of the principles as set forth in unclos would inform the more general provisions of unclos Part xii. On the other hand, unclos would strengthen the effect of international standards on marine plastic pollution mitigation adopted by a competent international organization or a diplomatic conference.

While unclos basically provides an optimal basis for a coherent framework in normative terms, unclos has not been seriously considered the institutional home for any kind of platform instrument promoting cooperation among relevant conventions in the field of marine plastic pollution. UN Environment seems perhaps a more appropriate candidate in this regard. It administers several of the mentioned treaties, as well as the Regional Seas Programme, several regional seas conventions, the gpa and the gpml. It is a driver in the promotion of public awareness, research, data collection and policy formulation. At the unea, possible options for future action are discussed in terms of both content and institutions, and new processes are initiated. The unea is a political body capable of taking action and making binding decisions. In the legal assessment for unea-3, UN Environment has therefore been identified as a strong candidate for the institutional home of a new global architecture on marine plastic litter and microplastics.1411

Shortly after unea-4, five Northern European countries1412 adopted a ministerial declaration calling for a global agreement to combat marine plastic litter and microplastics. In the declaration, they held that the issue ‘by its global nature cannot be solved by any one country alone and that effective, dedicated global governance is needed to address existing gaps and promote coherence, coordination and effective prioritization of our efforts’. They underlined ‘the need for a stronger global response for the effective implementation of measures to reach [sdg 14]’ and called ‘for the development of a global agreement to more effectively and comprehensively deal with the issue of marine plastic litter and microplastics on a global level in an integrated manner’.1413

Also, in April 2019, the Basel Convention was amended to better include plastic wastes in its legally binding framework. Also, since the Ban Amendment came into force, transboundary movements of hazardous wastes from oecd countries to developing countries are generally no longer permitted under the Basel Convention. The combined effect of the plastic amendments to the Basel Convention, the Ban Amendment and unilateral import restrictions by several Asian countries might attenuate the phenomenon of plastic scraps dumped on international markets – a phenomenon that undercuts recycling efforts in importing developing countries. The trade flow of plastic wastes from industrialised countries to developing countries with limited disposal options will hopefully be interrupted to a large extent and oecd countries will increasingly have to dispose of their plastic waste domestically. With the Plastic Waste Partnership, a platform has moreover been created under the Basel Convention to mobilize business, government, academic and civil society actors and to identify national, regional and international initiatives and actors that can provide capacity-building, technical advice and technology transfer.1414

In addition to international efforts and negotiations within the framework of the unea and multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention, various positive developments can be observed at the subregional and national levels. Particularly noteworthy in this respect are the unilateral commitments and pledges of high-income countries and the EU to provide financial assistance to Asian countries for marine litter prevention and mitigation programmes. Norway, for instance, established a multidonor trust fund in the World Bank to improve waste management and prevent marine litter, and allocated US$13 million to the fund in 2018.1415

Another important source of funding and capacity-building measures with potentially great leverage and impact is the private sector. A growing number of industry initiatives (e.g. the Global Plastics Alliance; Circulate Capital; Operation Clean Sweep) focus on marine debris mitigation projects or invest in such projects or sound waste management practices and infrastructure. Private-sector engagement also plays an important role in research and development, innovation and the dissemination of best environmental practices and environmentally friendly technologies.1416

A look at the ongoing process and proliferating activities concerning marine plastic litter and microplastics at all levels of governance shows the complexity and dynamics of our response to global man-made challenges. The creation of a convention, as proposed in this book and currently being considered in relevant fora, is only one element of this response. It is a response that must include pioneers and free riders, developing and developed nations, polluters and sufferers. It encompasses every individual and the international community as a whole. It encompasses all the regulatory areas concerned and must be designed in a coherent way. It is based on our vision of our planet, our environment and our lives, all of which depend on a healthy, living and life-sustaining ocean. The ocean reflects us and our society. It mercilessly shows the limits of our one-way economy. Thus, our response must also include a change in thinking and action towards sustainability and circularity.


See unep, UNEP Year Book 2014: Emerging Issues in Our Global Environment (n 292) 52.


A number of models of marine garbage collectors are currently under development or in early testing phases. They mainly target surface plastics but miss plastics below a certain benchmark size, as well as submerged plastics or benthic plastics. Researchers disagree on the environmental impact of large-scale marine garbage collectors, but promotion campaigns are being carried out to their benefit, nourishing the public misconception that new technologies are making marine plastic pollution easy to manage.


See unep, ‘AHEG Background Paper on Marine Litter’ (n 21) para 19.


See ibid para 19.


On plastic footprint methodologies, see Boucher and others (n 229).


See Jambeck and others (n 291) 768.


See unep, Marine Litter (n 284) 7.


See unep, ‘AHEG Background Paper on Marine Litter’ (n 21) para 14.


According to the concept of common concern of humankind as developed by Cottier and others, the recognition of a problem as a common concern of humankind entails the obligation of states to make contributions commensurate with their level of gdp to the global effort in solving the identified problem. Financial contributions are complemented by contributions in kind relevant to the issue of common concern, inclduing in the fields of trade, investment and technology transfer: see Cottier, ‘The Principle of Common Concern’ (n 1064) 62.


See Kershaw and others (n 96) 28.


There are no regional legal instruments on the protection of the marine environment applying to the South Asian Seas, South-East Asian Seas, North-West Pacific and South-West Atlantic regions.


See Section 2.2.B.ii above.


Tom Miles, ‘U.S. Blocks WTO Judge Reappointment as Dispute Settlement Crisis Looms’ Reuters (27 August 2018) <> accessed 19 February 2022.


See US Shrimp (n 677) 63–76 paras 161–86. cf Tuna II (Mexico) (n 965) 324–31 paras 124–28.


unep, ‘UNEA-2 Technical Report on Marine Plastic Debris’ (n 509); ‘UNEA-3 Legal Report’ (n 414). The author of this book has participated in the preparation of the two studies behind the executive director’s reports as a member of the Advisory Group.


See Environmental Investigation Agency and others, ‘Convention on Plastic Pollution: Toward a New Global Agreement to Address Plastic Pollution’ (2020).


unea Resolution 3/7 (2017) (n 523) para 10.


unep, ‘UNEA-3 Legal Report’ (n 414) 124–142. See also unep, ‘UNEA-3 Legal Report – Summary for Policy Makers’ (n 509).


See Environmental Investigation Agency and others (n 1404) 7. See also unep, ‘Report of the First Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics’ (n 524) paras 62 and 65; ‘Progress in the Work of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics Established by Resolution 3/7 – Report of the Executive Director’ (n 525) para 11(c). cf Simon and Schulte (n 1137).


cf 2015 Paris Agreement art 4.


See unep, ‘Progress in the Work of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics Established by Resolution 3/7 – Report of the Executive Director’ (n 525) para 11(c).


See unep, ‘AHEG Background Paper on Marine Litter’ (n 21).


unep, ‘UNEA-3 Legal Report – Summary for Policy Makers’ (n 509) 11.


Nordic Cooperation, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden (along with the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Åland Islands).


Nordic Cooperation, ‘Nordic Ministerial Declaration on the Call for a Global Agreement to Combat Marine Plastic Litter and Microplastics’ (Nordic Cooperation, 10 April 2019) <> accessed 19 February 2022. The Nordic Council of Ministers also agreed to provide financial support for a Nordic Report to inform decision-making and explore possible elements and approaches of such a new global agreement.


Basel Convention, ‘Plastic Waste Partnership: Overview’ (2019) <> accessed 19 February 2022.


unep, ‘Report of the First Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics’ (n 524) para 67.


See unep, ‘AHEG Background Paper on Marine Litter’ (n 21) para 23.