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This piece analyzes and critically evaluates the enormous number and variety of international instruments addressing the regulation of hazardous substances and activities, from consumer products to nuclear power plants. International authorities are categorized according to regulatory theory, ranging from hazard identification and testing to disposal. Other regulatory approaches include limitations on pollutant releases, prevention of and response to industrial accidents, and international trade in toxic chemicals and waste. Multilateral norms originating from global and regional institutions, UN specialized agencies, and non-UN organizations are analyzed. The piece addresses both "hard" (binding or conventional) and "soft" (nonbinding) instruments, correlating legal form with policy purpose. The relationship between each international policy analogous domestic regulatory approaches is explored.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
7 Sep 2022
393 kB



  • Subject
    • International Law

    • Law and Economics

    • Natural Resources Law

    • Trade Regulation

  • Journal title
    • Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Suggested Citation:

      David A. Wirth. "Hazardous Substances and Activities." In Oxford handbook of International Environmental Law. Daniel Bodansky, Jutta Brunée, Ellen Hey, eds., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.