Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity
AuthorSchroeder, D; Pogge, T
Source TitleEthics & International Affairs
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
AffiliationPhilosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSchroeder, D. & Pogge, T. (2009). Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Ethics & International Affairs, 23 (3), pp.267-280. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-7093.2009.00217.x.
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<jats:p><jats:bold>Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity</jats:bold></jats:p><jats:p><jats:bold>Doris Schroeder and Thomas Pogge</jats:bold></jats:p><jats:p>Benefit sharing as envisaged by the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a relatively new idea in international law. Within the context of non-human biological resources, it aims to guarantee the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use by ensuring that its custodians are adequately rewarded for its preservation.</jats:p><jats:p>Prior to the adoption of the CBD, access to biological resources was frequently regarded as a free-for-all. Bioprospectors were able to take resources out of their natural habitat and develop commercial products without sharing benefits with states or local communities. This paper asks how CBD-style benefit-sharing fits into debates of justice. It is argued that the CBD is an example of a set of social rules designed to increase social utility. It is also argued that a common heritage of humankind principle with inbuilt benefit-sharing mechanisms would be preferable to assigning bureaucratic property rights to non-human biological resources. However, as long as the international economic order is characterized by serious distributive injustices, as reflected in the enormous poverty-related death toll in developing countries, any morally acceptable means toward redressing the balance in favor of the disadvantaged has to be welcomed. By legislating for a system of justice-in-exchange covering nonhuman biological resources in preference to a free-for-all situation, the CBD provides a small step forward in redressing the distributive justice balance. It therefore presents <jats:italic>just</jats:italic> legislation sensitive to the international relations context in the 21st century.</jats:p>
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