International Organizations and Environmental Policy

By Robert V. Bartlett; Priya A. Kurian et al. | Go to book overview
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Forum Shopping: Issue Linkages in the Genetic Resources Issue

Robin Pistorius

The last two decades have witnessed an increasing number of multilateral negotiations on the protection of the global commons. Well-known examples are the lengthy negotiations conducted on the access to the high seas and space, such as those concerning the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). A relatively recent negotiation process involves the conservation and use of genetic resources. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED 1992, Rio de Janeiro), the conservation and use of genetic resources has become subject to the Biodiversity Convention.

As with other commons, the negotiations on the draft texts of the Biodiversity Convention are complex and lengthy, and, until now, have not been subject to any scholarly analysis. This chapter highlights one aspect of modern "bio-diplomacy," namely the increasing interaction and overlap of a rapidly growing number of international organizations dealing with the same commons.

As the number of multilateral environmental agreements continues to grow, the number of international organizations that occupy themselves with environmental issues likewise grows. Indeed, the more that international environmental politics becomes embedded in other international issues, the more organizations previously without an environmental mandate start to play a role in multilateral environmental decisionmaking.

Another tendency is that "new" environmental issues offer opportunities for developing countries to play a role in environmental issue areas they previously were not involved with. Stephen Krasner ( 1985:233, 245-46) has described the lengthy negotiations on the drafting and (unsuccessful) implementation of UNCLOS ( 1982) to illustrate how the UN was "used" by the Group of 77 to assert unilateral control over contiguous ocean areas, with the deep seabed outside the twelve-mile zone to become part of the "common heritage of mankind." But the negotiations on UNCLOS not only showed the new opportunities for developing countries in international negotiations on global


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International Organizations and Environmental Policy
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