Published In

American Journal of International Law

Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Agreements, Treaty Compliance, World Heritage Convention, Corporations


The gravitational pull of environmental treaties is felt not only by states. Yet international lawyers almost exclusively focus on states to explain treaty compliance, measure treaty implementation, and assess treaty effectiveness. This essay draws attention to a phenomenon that falls outside traditional boundaries of treaty analysis: the efforts of private corporations that aim at complying with environmental treaties. Existing models of treaty implementation are inadequate to explain these direct interactions between corporations and treaties. The dominant grammar of treaty “compliance” equally fails to fit. Using a little-studied example - the UNESCO World Heritage Convention - this essay highlights the phenomenon of corporations’ aspiring to conform their behavior to environmental treaty requirements.