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Recent calls for a UN Convention on Soils begs the question about its feasibility and advisability. International conventions are most likely to be successful where the need for action is compelling, the effects of inaction immediate, dramatic and relatively certain, and there are significant international spillovers. Potential signatories to a convention must believe they would benefit in some way, and that these benefits cannot be obtained if they abstained. We examine the characteristics of six UN conventions related to environmental issues and argue that an international soil convention would not satisfy these and other criteria, and would therefore be difficult to implement.


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