While chemicals are relied on daily to make society more comfortable and productive, there is a need to protect human health and the environment from their possible harmful effects. The world has often chosen multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) as the tool to do so.

The current global chemicals and waste MEAs should be understood in the context of the last 45 years of intensive treaty making since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, which have resulted in a large number of bilateral, regional and global environmental agreements. These agreements, many of which have become increasingly regulatory in nature, have also targeted issues such as biological diversity and climate change.

This paper discusses Canadian contributions to international environmental law in in the context of the chemical and waste MEAs, focusing primarily on contributions to the development and implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The paper then assesses current challenges and identifies opportunities for leadership in the future.

Part of Series

Marking 150 years since Confederation provides an opportunity for Canadian international law practitioners and scholars to reflect on Canada’s past, present and future in international law and governance. This series of essays, written in the official language chosen by the authors, that provides a critical perspective on Canada’s past and present in international law, surveys the challenges that lie before us and offers renewed focus for Canada’s pursuit of global justice and the rule of law.
The project leaders were Oonagh E. Fitzgerald, director of the International Law Research Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI); Valerie Hughes, CIGI senior fellow, adjunct assistant professor of law at Queen’s University and former director at the World Trade Organization; and Mark Jewett, CIGI senior fellow, counsel to the law firm Bennett Jones, and former general counsel and corporate secretary of the Bank of Canada. The series was published as a book titled Reflections on Canada’s Past, Present and Future in International Law/Réflexions sur le passé, le présent et l’avenir du Canada en matière de droit international in spring 2018.

  • Anne Daniel held the position of general counsel with the Constitutional, Administrative and International Law Section of the Department of Justice Canada.