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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Mongolia

According to Article 38 of Mongolia’s constitution, the cabinet is responsible for, among other things, enforcing the laws of the state and undertaking measures for protection of the environment, the sustainable use and restoration of natural resources. Article 16 of the Constitution lists rights and freedoms that the citizens of Mongolia shall be guaranteed to exercise. The second right listed, after the right to life, is the right to a healthy and safe environment, and to be protected against environmental pollution and ecological imbalance.

Featured Legislation

1989: The Subsoil Law was signed. The purpose of the Law on Subsoil is to regulate issues related to use and protection of subsoil in the interests of the present and future generations. The subsoil is the property of the state. The subsoil may be given to others only on lease. It shall be prohibited to change the right of the state to own the subsoil.

1995: The Environmental Protection Law was passed. The purpose of this law is to regulate relations between the State, citizens, business entities and organizations in order to guarantee the human right to live in a healthy and safe environment, an ecologically balanced social and economic development, the protection of the environment for present and future generations, the proper use of natural resources and the restoration of available resources.

1995: The Water Law was enacted. This Law makes provision with respect to the proper use, protection and restoration of water resources of Mongolia. The purpose of the Law is to govern relations concerning the protection and rational use and restoration of water resources and its basin.

1995:The Law on Fees for the Use of Natural Flora was created, regulating the assessment and payment of fees for the use of natural flora. Mongolian nationals, foreigners, stateless persons or economic entities shall pay a fee to use endangered, rare or common flora for any purpose except in the following cases: (a) common flora used for household purposes; (b) rare or common flora used for research purposes; and (c) natural flora used for hay production and livestock grazing.

1999: The Maritime Law was approved. The purpose of this law is to regulate relations related to extraction of marine resources, fishing, transportation and other marine activities by vessels flying the state flag of Mongolia. Extraction of marine resources and fishing by vessels shall be regulated by the state administrative central body in charge of those matters on the basis of special permission from a competent international organization.

2006: The Mineral Law was adopted, regulating the exploration and mining of minerals within the territory of Mongolia. This law is applicable for exploration and mining of all types of mineral resources except water, petroleum and natural gas. Mineral resources naturally occurring on and under the earth's surface in Mongolia are the property of the State. The State, as the owner, has the right to grant exploration and mining rights as set forth in the terms and conditions of this law.

2006: The Law on Hazardous and Toxic Chemicals was signed. The purpose of this Law is to regulate relations concerning the export, import and transportation of toxic chemicals across the borders of Mongolia and production, storage, trade, transport, use, removal and control on thereof. According to their origin and effects, chemicals (including pesticides) shall be classified as follows: (a) hazardous and toxic for human health; (b) hazardous and toxic for the environment; and (c) hazardous and toxic for livestock and animals.

2012: The Law on Environmental Impact Assessments was introduced to protect the environment and prevent environmental damages caused to natural resources with the fewest environmental impacts, according to provisions of art. 2 of the Constitution. Its purpose is to protect the environment, prevent ecological imbalance, and ensure minimal adverse impacts on the environment from the use of natural resources.

2013: The Integrated Water Management Plan of Mongolia was unveiled. This Plan is developed within the framework of the “Strengthening Integrated Water Resources Management in Mongolia” project". The Law on Water of Mongolia states that an Integrated Water Management Plan should be developed and approved by the Government. The Plan can also be considered as a follow-up, through the Water National Programme, on the MDG-Based Comprehensive National Development Strategy of Mongolia. The objectives of the MDG-Based Strategy can be summarized as: (i) Social improvement, (ii) Economic development and (iii) Environmental conservation. This Plan in particular aims to support these objectives. It identifies import issues for IWRM and provides for the actions at national level that are proposed in the Water National Programme, providing a scientific basis, regional detail, and a methodical approach for ranking the actions including their impacts assessment and risks. The main challenges are: Improving water conditions in and around urban centres; Mining, water supply and safeguarding environmental impacts; Supply of water for herders; Developing the national hydropower potential; developing an institutional framework for water management; integrated policy development for water management. Through analysis of these challenges, the Plan formulates a total of 88 measures to address the 96 issues that have been identified.

2016: The Mongolia Sustainable Development Vision was unveiled. It is a multi-sectoral policy document at the national level for the period 2016-2030. The NSDP highlights 16 National Goals in 7 Priority Areas: 1) Economic Development; 2). Infrastructure; 3) Energy; 4) Social Development; 5) Resilience; 6) Ecological Sustainability; 7) Governance.

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

  • In Eastern Mongolia, the people of Erdenetsagaan are taking action against mining companies that have destroyed their community of 7,000. Herders lament the decline of biodiversity and the destruction of landscapes – one herder reported that five mountains have literally “disappeared” in the region’s grasslands as a result of unregulated mining. Human health is compromised by the thick dust that envelops the community’s pastures and herders are pointing to corruption and lack of political will as the cause for this environmental catastrophe, developing their own toolkit for community-based action. The toolkit is part of a collaborative effort between communities from  Indonesia,  Mongolia, Morocco,  Thailand and Tunisia and the Strengthening the Right to Information for People and the Environment (STRIPE) project. STRIPE supports local communities' fight to hold officials and companies accountable, using an environmental rights-based approach to provide a roadmap for accessing environmental information, identifying when to engage in decision-making processes and building coalitions to advocate for stronger enforcement of anti-pollution policies. Residents of Erdenetsagaan are working alongside STRIPE to compel government officials to step up efforts to protect the human health of its people by regulating mining projects for coal, fluorspar, tungsten, oil and other commodities that have sprung up around the region. The toolkit has led residents of Erdenetsagaan to the startling conclusion that mining releases toxic contaminants into the groundwater, poisoning communities’ already limited water supply. What is more, respiratory diseases like asthma are quite common among community members, prompting requests to access basic environmental information, including environmental impact assessments, water and land use permits, reports detailing companies’ violations of mining regulations and public consultation notices.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia: Mr. Tsogtsaikhan Purev, Telephone +976 (51) 264 166 +976 99 075 559, Email