Plastics Treaty Legal Advisory Service Note: Key Principles

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Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers
(Publications under review and may be updated prior to 30 September)

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This note identifies definitions and applications of the key principles set out in the UNEP Options Paper UNEP/PP/INC.2/4, that ‘the Committee [INC] may wish to consider’ in developing an internationally legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution (Plastics Treaty).

The note highlights different ways of operationalising key principles, including considerations relevant to determining their role, content and impact in a Plastics Treaty. In this respect, it must be noted that all provisions within a treaty – including the preamble, objectives, governing principles, substantive provisions, and institutional framework – can be based on, include, reflect or operationalise specific principles and/or a human rights-based approach. However, the legal effects of a treaty provision will depend upon how it is phrased, including the category of provision to which it belongs. While a treaty’s preamble, for example, can inform the interpretation of the treaty as a whole it typically will not produce obligations in itself on the States party to the treaty. Therefore, if States desire to give a particular principle the fullest possible effect in a treaty, they should reflect the relevant principle in the substantive provisions of the treaty itself and phrase those provisions in such a way as to oblige parties to take concrete measures or actions aimed at realising to the fullest extent possible the specific principle.
  • Legal-Advisory-Note_INC2-3_Principles-operationalisation_V1.pdf