School navigation

Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment

Trade and the Environment


In 1991, the Tuna/Dolphin dispute brought international trade law to the attention of environmental advocates when a trade panel concluded that U.S. import restrictions of tuna caught by encircling dolphins violated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In 1998, protesters lined the streets in sea turtle costumes to protest a similar decision of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the Shrimp/Turtle dispute. Other trade disputes, including the Beef Hormones case, illustrate how global trade rules can limit options for environmental protection. 

The Alliance has worked on several projects in this area. Most recently, the Alliance has prepared a guide to understanding the links between state and local legislation and international trade law. The guide is an essential read for policy-makers, advocates, and legislators and should help with the drafting of effective legislation. The Alliance has also prepared a petition to certify that Japan’s so-called scientific whaling diminishes the effectiveness of both the International Whaling Commission and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Once a country is certified, the President of the United States may restrict trade in products from that country. Additionally, the Alliance petitioned the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, established under the environmental side agreement to the NAFTA, alleging that the United States is failing to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against loggers. The Alliance also issues briefings on important trade-environment disputes.


  • The International Environmental Law Project (IELP) at Lewis & Clark Law School prepared a legal opinion that helped trigger an international investigation to determine whether Japan is illegally trading in the meat of sei whales. Based on IELP’s legal opinion and other information, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took an important step toward ending Japan’s domestic sale of sei whale meat by agreeing to investigate Japan’s trade in sei whales.
  • The Law School’s International Environmental Law Project (IELP) recently returned from Geneva where it participated in negotiations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) from January 11-15.
  • Prof. Wold’s recent analysis of the Trans Pacific Partnership concludes that the TPP’s environmental provisions are weak and unlikely to address the problems of illegal wildlife trade, overfishing, and other environmental concerns. Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20) sent it to members of Congress, calling it a “thorough and thoughtful report”.

Work Product

General Resources


Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment

Contact Us