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Environment: Environmental Accords and Treaties

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 France’s most important environmentally focused accords and treaties. Some have been ratified via France's membership in the United Nations, with its 193 member countries. Other treaties have been ratified through the European Union, which has 27 member countries, or through the Group of Seven (G7). The G7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the world’s seven-largest advanced economies.

Antarctic Treaty

Entered into Force: December 1, 1959
Number of Signatories: 53
Objective: To ensure that Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only (such as international cooperation in scientific research); to defer the question of territorial claims asserted by some nations and not recognized by others; to provide an international forum for management of the region; applies to land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees south latitude.

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.

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 Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

Entered into Force: April 7, 1982
Number of Signatories: 25 members, 11 acceding states
Objective: To safeguard the environment and protect the integrity of the ecosystem of the seas surrounding Antarctica, and to conserve Antarctic marine living 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 Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques

Entered into Force: October 5, 1978
Number of Signatories: 77
Objective: To prohibit the military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques in order to further world peace and trust among nations. 

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. 

International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling

Entered into Force: November 10, 1948
Number of Signatories: 89
Objective: To protect all species of whales from overhunting; to establish a system of international regulation for the whale fisheries to ensure proper conservation and development of whale stocks; to safeguard for future generations the great natural resources represented by whale stocks.

International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006

Entered into Force: December 7, 2011
Number of Signatories: 74
Objective: To promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests and to promote the sustainable management of tropical timber producing forests. 

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.

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

Entered into Force: January 14, 1998
Number of Signatories: 41 
Objective: To provide for comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems; applies to the area covered by the Antarctic Treaty.

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water

Entered into Force: October 10, 1963
Number of Signatories: 125
Objective: To ban nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere, outer space, or under water.

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.

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.