Tropical rainforests located mainly in developing countries are currently being deforested and degraded at unsustainable rate not only for the timber they yield but for other purposes such as land clearance in order to grow crops. These forests are in urgent need of protection as they contain the most bio diverse areas and important ecosystems on this planet and fulfill a range of environmental, social and economic functions. There is currently no international treaty in existence whereby national, sub-national bodies, the private sector and other stakeholders are bound to ensure that rainforests are protected and deforestation curbed. This dissertation is unique because through there is considerable literature in existence which looks at the science and political issues of sustainably managing rainforests, literature that focuses on the legal aspect of protecting these rainforests is limited. Though the thesis includes a theoretical component it also includes three case studies which focus on individual countries and their respective legal regimes in order to understand why rainforests are disappearing so rapidly. Without this analysis a way forward to deal with this complex and challenging problem would not be possible. The case study on Australia’s tropical rainforest in Northern Queensland traces its destruction over a period of 200 years until groups of concerned citizens and the divergence of federal and state politics and numerous court challenges at the federal level resulted in its protection through its declaration as a World Heritage Area. The case studies on Papua New Guinea and the Amazon forest situated in Brazil demonstrate increasing and uncontrolled deforestation and highlight the problems prevalent in preventing deforestation in developing countries. Here ownership of the rainforest is poorly defined due to customary ownership by various indigenous groups, lack of land registration laws, poorly enforced policy and forestry laws. Problematic is illegal deforestation accompanied by systemic corruption which adds to the deforestation problem. The thesis analyses the outcome of numerous forest forums established by the United Nations to tackle deforestation. It discusses the opposing theories of the ‘global commons’ versus that of ‘state sovereignty’ over natural resources. The conclusion ultimately reached in the thesis argues is that an international rainforest treaty established with the provision that compensation is paid to developing countries who agree ‘not to deforest’ if these invaluable resources are to survive.