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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Qatar

Article 33 of Qatar’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. It reads: “The State endeavors to protect the environment and its natural balance, to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development for all generations”.

The Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves is the main authority on environmental matters, responsible for maintaining natural resources, controlling activities which harm the environment, issuing related regulations, imposing technical and operational restrictions as well as any necessary conditions, measures and criteria for the protection of the environment.

Featured Legislation

1966: Decree–Law No. 29 (regulating Qatar Maritime Ports) was signed. This Law provides for traffic within the Ports: anchorage, ships movement in conformity with the prevailing circumstances and weather conditions, procedures in emergency cases, and material banned to be thrown overboard. Articles 23-49 provide for loading and unloading cargo (special rules are provided for hazardous cargo): times, rules, facilities and their possible damages, travel authorizations, liability and responsibility of the Port administration, management of damaged or deteriorated merchandise unloaded from the ship. Articles 50-53 deal with precaution against fire, measures to be taken in case of burning ships, and smoking rules within the Port. The Law provides also for procedures and fees exemption for warships.

1985: Regulation No. 2  (the Law on the exploitation and conservation of living aquatic resources in Qatar) was promulgated. These Regulations are divided into 6 Parts: Definitions (I); Regulation of Fishing (II); Conservation and Development of Living Aquatic Resources (III); Conservation, Transportation and Marketing of Living Aquatic Resources (IV); Penalties (V); General Provisions (VI).

2002: Law No. 30 (Environmental Protection Law) was passed. This law established general provisions for the protection of the environment in Qatar. Its objectives include: maintaining environmental quality and natural balance; avoiding damage and adverse effects resulting from plans and programs of construction, industrial, agricultural, or economic development, and raising environmental awareness; sustainable development of natural resources; protection of the society and public health, fauna and flora from harmful environmental actions.

2007: Law No. 3 (on the exploitation of natural resources) was brought into force. The purpose of this Law, consisting of 27 articles, was to provide for concession rights to exploit state-owned natural resources (with the exception of petrol, soil, sand, mare material and its substances that are used in activities of construction, road construction and filling). It establishes that exploitation rights shall be granted through a decision issued by the Minister and approved by the Council of Ministers and royalties shall only be granted for a limited period.

All the rights on the oil belong to Qatar Petroleum, while licenses to explore, transport or exploit soil, sand, mare materials and its substances that are used in building construction, road construction and filling shall be granted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture. The Law specifies conditions and fees for obtaining royalties or mining rights, exploration permits or licenses and discovery certificates.

2008: The Qatar National Vision (2030) plan was created. This is a nation-wide document that defines broad future trends and reflects the aspirations, objectives and culture of the Qatari people. It establishes the long-term outcomes for the country as a whole rather than the processes for reaching these outcomes, providing a framework within which national strategies and implementation plans can be developed.

2010: Law No.11 was brought into force. This Law prohibits the practice of fishing without a license from the competent department and bans dumping into fishing or inland waters or onto the seabed of any waste without written approval from the competent bodies.

2018: Qatar’s Second National Development Strategy (NDS-2) 2018 – 2022 was introduced. This Second National Development Strategy is a nationwide multi-sectoral document that comes as a continuation of the series of national strategies and, in particular, the NDP for the period 2011-2016: Aimed at achieving the goals and aspirations of Qatar National Vision 2030 that in turn aims at transforming Qatar into an advanced country by 2030, capable of sustaining its own development and ensuring high living standards for its people for generations to come.

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

  • Qatar’s financial sector is reaping huge rewards from illegal fishing and logging, waste trafficking, and trade in wildlife. a 2022  report by Finance for Biodiversity (F4B) reveals that said crimes generate up to $280bn each year, decreasing tax revenues by some $30bn per year, with poorer, environmentally rich countries losing the most. Financial institutions in Qatar are laundering the proceeds of environmental crime, violating international law pertaining to Anti-money-laundering (AML) rules. In Qatar, for example, financial institutions, including pension funds, not only provide channels through which perpetrators of environmental crimes launder the profits; these institutions also invest in nature-dependent sectors such as food, wood products, and infrastructure. Consider illegal logging for a moment: illegal logging can make more land available for agricultural production, thereby lowering costs, increasing output, and improving quality. The result is higher profits for businesses – and bigger returns for their investors. Government officials argue that these ventures are technically legal, but the returns are partly derived from criminal activity, drawing intersections between various criminal enterprises. With environmental laws being poorly enforced and, where fines are imposed, criminals are not deterred from leveraging financial institutions in the commission of environmental crimes. As a result of this, Qatar’s government has introduced new mandatory environmental due-diligence requirements – most immediately on deforestation. It is the hope that as disclosure increases, so will public-interest litigation of environmental crimes.

References and Further Reading


Head Of Section, Pollution Control Department Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC): Mr. Ahmed Malallah Al Malki,