International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Iran

Article 50 of Iran’s Constitution highlights the nation’s efforts to protect the environment. The section reads: “The preservation of the environment, in which the present as well as the future generations have a right to flourishing social existence, is regarded as a public duty in the Islamic Republic. Economic and other activities that inevitably involve pollution of the environment or cause irreparable damage to it are therefore forbidden”.

Iran’s environmental laws cover a wide range of topics including the following:

  • Air Quality – Air quality laws protect the air from pollution and may include measures to protect the air from things like ozone depletion.
  • Water Quality – Environmental laws may protect water from pollution.
  • Waste Management – Municipal waste, hazardous substances and nuclear waste all fall in the category of waste management.
  • Contaminant Cleanup – Contaminant cleanup deals with addressing pollution after it happens. Laws may include protocols for cleanup as well as civil and criminal punishment for polluters.
  • Contaminant Cleanup – Contaminant cleanup deals with addressing pollution after it happens. Laws may include protocols for cleanup as well as civil and criminal punishment for polluters.
  • Chemical Safety – Chemical safety regulations manage things like pesticide use and chemicals in products like plastic bottles.
  • Hunting and fishing – Environmental laws may regulate and protect wildlife populations. Lawmakers determine who can hunt and fish and how these activities are regulated.

  • Featured Legislation

    1968: The Iran Water Law was unveiled. The Law consists of 66 articles and 35 notes, subdivided in nine Chapters and relative Sections. Chapter I, Generalities: Public and national ownership of waters (Section I), Water rights and water use permit (Section 2), Issuance of water use permit (Section 3), Conditions and the manner of water use (Section 4), Unused waters (Section 5).Chapter II, Duties and Authorities; Chapter III, Underground water resources; Chapter IV, Protection and maintenance of joint establishment; Chapter V, Taking

    1974: The Environmental Protection Law was enacted, specifying rules and measures for the protection and management of the environment. The objectives of this Law, consisting of 21 articles, are the protection and improvement of the environment. Appropriate measures must be taken by the Department of Environment (DOE) and the High Council for Environmental Protection in order to: (a) Preserve the ecological balance; and (b) Prevent and control waste and noise pollution considered harmful to the environment.

    1975: The Regulations on Environmental Protection Law were passed. These Regulations were adopted in accordance with article 21 of the Environmental protection Law. The text is divided into 9 Chapters. “National parks", “Natural resources", “Wildlife shelters", “Important protected areas" have been defined in Chapter I.

    1990: The Regulation of the Law on Radiation Protection was adopted. The aim of the Regulation is the proper implementation of the Law on Radiation Protection. The specific authorization for working with radiation in any workplace is issued for an individual who is considered as a person in charge. This permission should be renewed every year. Any organization working with radiation should have a health attendant with relevant academic degrees on site.

    1992: An Amendment of the Environmental Protection Law was presented, consisting of a single article which introduced some amendments to the Environmental Protection Law of 2 June 1974. In particular, the Act increased the number of members of the High Committee of Environmental Protection and appointed the President as Head of the Committee. According to the Act, the Head of Department of Environment shall be selected by the President and shall also act as Secretary of the Committee.

    1998: The Mining Law was signed, granting the Ministry of Mines and metals with the ownership of all the mines of the country and rules for their protection, management, exploration, exploitation and the issuing of licences and certificates mandatory for the execution of all the activities involved in mining. The law also addresses issues on safety of drilling operations, waste management and financial aspects related to mining activities.

    2003: The Statute of the Iran Water Resources Management Company was tabled. The Law is the Status of the Water Resources Management Company of Iran which has been established to organize the activities of the Ministry of Energy in the field of water resources. The Act consists of 33 articles divided into 5 chapters; General Provisions and Funding (I); Activities and Duties (II); Structure (III); Financial Statements (IV); Miscellaneous Provisions (V).

    2017: The Law to Protect Wetlands was created. The Iranian Parliament passed the law to prohibit “any exploitation and activity that leads to irreparable damage to and pollution of wetlands.” The new Law requires the EPA to draft regulations to protect wetlands and submit them to the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) for approval within six months of the Law’s issuance.   Additionally, the Law prohibits the introduction into wetlands of harmful, nonnative plants and animals, and requires the EPA to draw up a list of such harmful species and revise it every two years.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • In a 2019 publication: Jamal Beigi explains how Iran’s Parliament employs the tenets of Natural Law theory to criminalize the pollution of water. Drawing upon the legal doctrine, the Iranian government recognizes  the natural environment as a gift from God, playing a fundamental role in the formation of human beings, forests, meadows, mountains, plains, rivers, seas, lakes, marshes, landscapes, etc. As such, Article 2 of the Penal Code, adopted in 2013: States that any act that results in severe damage to the environment and to human health and life is strictly prohibited. In Iran, water pollution constitutes a crime against the environment and the organism, and all are required to comply with regulations, which amount to the cost to the EPA proposed by the Committee of Ministers. In the Iranian legal system, influenced by Islamic teachings as well as international requirements, the pollution of water is not only an offence of positive law, but a violation of natural law.
    • In 2018: Eight environmental activists were arbitrarily detained in Iran. According to Human Rights Watch, Iranian authorities have declared that the detainees can only be represented by lawyers from a pre-approved list of 20 that the judiciary published in June of that year. What is more alarming is the fact the environmentalists have spent eight months in pretrial detention, with no charges laid against them. On January 24 and 25, the Revolutionary Guards intelligence organization arrested Houman Jokar, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi, Taher Ghadirian, Kavous Seyed Emami, and Morad Tahbaz, all members of a local environmental group, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The activists were accused of using environmental projects as a cover to collect classified strategic information – an accusation that has never been substantiated. Families of the detained are puzzled over the charges, as the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation only works to conserve and protect Iran’s flora and fauna, including the Asiatic Cheetah, an endangered species in Iran.

    References and Further Reading


    Department of Environment, Mr. Kaiomars Kalantari – Deputy Head for Natural Environment and Biodiversity: