Limitations of the UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty in Tackling Plastic Pollution

Joshua Palfreman

10/25/20222 min read

The UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty faces limitations in enforcement, lack of understanding among legal community, and difficulties in holding polluters accountable, hindering its ability to effectively tackle plastic pollution. The international community must work together to address these challenges.

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has taken a significant step forward in addressing the global plastic pollution crisis with the introduction of the UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty. However, despite its ambitious goals, the treaty faces several limitations that may hinder its effectiveness.

One of the most significant challenges is enforcement. The treaty requires strong international cooperation and coordination between government, private sector, and civil society to be effective, but the absence of a robust enforcement mechanism and international policing makes it difficult to hold violators accountable. The lack of case law and precedents also presents difficulties for legal professionals, who may struggle to understand and apply the treaty, leading to a potential decrease in the number of practitioners and judges willing to participate in proceedings related to the treaty.

Another challenge is the limited understanding of the UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty among the legal community. The novel and complex nature of the treaty may present difficulties for legal professionals, who require clear guidance and precedents to support their arguments. This lack of clarity could result in a decrease in the participation of legal professionals in legal proceedings related to the treaty, hindering its effectiveness.

In the realm of holding polluters accountable, the UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty may also face challenges. Environmentalists have often used more conventional statutes such as false advertising and right of admission/property law to hold the largest polluting companies accountable. These statutes are more familiar to legal professionals and provide a clearer framework for legal action. In contrast, the UN Plastics Treaty may struggle to provide a similar level of clarity and guidance to legal professionals, making it more difficult to hold polluters accountable effectively.

In conclusion, the UNEA5.2 Plastics Treaty is faced with several limitations that may impede its ability to achieve its objectives. The absence of effective enforcement mechanisms, the lack of case law and precedents, limited understanding among the legal community, and difficulties in holding polluters accountable are significant challenges that the treaty must overcome if it hopes to be a success. The international community must work together to address these limitations and find ways to overcome them for the good of our planet and its inhabitants.

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