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Exploring the Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organisations under International Energy Treaties

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image of International Community Law Review

Energy is now firmly on the global agenda. Many of the international measures that seek to tackle environmental issues arising from energy production and use, and achieve global order in energy trade and investment, have been developed in consultation with non-governmental organisations. However, despite the significant contribution of non-governmental organisations in this area, little attention has been paid to the formal legal status of such organisations under international energy treaties. A wide range of elements are examined in this article and found to support a limited legal status on the part of non-governmental organisations under international energy treaties created within the United Nations system, which implies a conditional 'right' to participate. However this right is limited to a right to participate in setting the policy framework of those treaties only, rather than a right to participate in judicial disputes. Moreover, the current legal treatment of NGOs differs in the specific issue areas of energy, given this area has been dealt with in an ad hoc manner by means of numerous, largely unrelated international energy treaties. In particular, NGOs have a very limited legal status, if at all, under international energy treaties created outside the United Nations system.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Environmental and Energy Law, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium


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