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IUCN Partnership


International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies (GCELS) has long been a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under the name "Center for Environmental Legal Studies." The IUCN is the world’s largest conservation network; the Union brings together 170 countries, 90 States, 133 government agencies, more than 1,120 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 16,000 scientists and experts in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.


IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law

The IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) is a network of environmental law and policy experts from all regions of the world who volunteer their knowledge and services to IUCN activities. Professor Nicholas Robinson has served as Chair of IUCN WCEL and is currently chair of its Arctic Law Specialist Group. Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger is Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Specialist Group. Other Pace Law faculty and staff provide help to IUCN WCEL as needed.

IUCN World Conservation Congress

As an active voting member of IUCN, GCELS sends a delegation to IUCN’s World Conservation Congress (Congress), which occurs every four years and attracts thousands of registrants from around the world with the purpose of networking, educating, and setting policy for the organization and its members.  Hundreds of events and workshops occur during the WCC, making it one of the world’s most dynamic environmental conferences.  Pace Law students, faculty and alumni prepare Motions for Resolutions of the Congress, participate in the Members Assembly and present workshops.


Photo 1: Members of the Pace Law delegation met distinguished members of the IUCN at the 2016 World Conservation Congress.  Photo 2: UNEP’s Director of the Division of Environmental Law, Elizabeth Mrema, joined Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger in the launch of the UNEP Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the 2016 World Conservation Congress event moderated by Professor Nicholas Robinson.


For information on our participation in the 2016 World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, click here. In conjunction with the 2016 Congress, Pace Law held an international law moot court focused on intergenerational climate justice and the international law response to the global climate crisis.

At the 2012 World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, Pace Law hosted a "Conservation Campus" on environmental adjudication. You can watch the workshops on IUCN's YouTube site. In addition, the Global Center for the Environmental Legal Studies hosted a workshop on Giving Force to Conservation Laws: Environmental Adjudication.

IUCN Academy of Environmental Law

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law has played a key role in the development of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law. Professor Nicholas Robinson led the effort to establish the Academy during his tenure as Chair of IUCN WCEL and later served as Chair of the Academy. The Academy is rooted in the “Earth Summit’s” call for universities to advance legal education for integrating environment and development. In 1998, IUCN members requested that IUCN WCEL develop a network of university law faculties to strengthen environmental legal education worldwide. IUCN formally authorized the concept of an Academy of Environmental Law at the Second World Conservation Congress in 2000 and gave its final approval for the Academy in December 2002.

The Academy is a global learned society dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ways in which law promotes a just society that values and conserves nature. The Academy convenes international colloquia every year; the Elisabeth Haub School of Lawhosted the fourth colloquium, entitled “Toward More Effective Implementation of Environmental Law: Compliance and Enforcement” in October 2006. The colloquium drew more than 220 participants from 47 countries and 65 universities. Pace Law faculty, students, and alumni speak at the colloquium each year.

During the 2016 Colloquium in Oslo, Norway, the Academy approved the Maryland-Pace Environmental Law Alliance to take on the Secretariat position and carry out the affairs of the Academy.

Watch a video about the IUCN Academy produced by our partner, Maryland Carey Law, and featuring Professor Nicholas Robinson.


Pace Law Professor Nicholas Robinson chaired the last plenary session during the IUCN Academy’s 2016 Colloquium on “The Environment in Court” held in Oslo, Norway.