compile and analyze applicable laws and regulations already in force as well as institutional jurisdictions. In March 1996, the National Assembly approved a General Environmental and Natural Resources Law (Ley General del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales), which includes a chapter about biodiversity and sets up a National Commission for Biodiversity (CONABI) as a focal point for building consensus between civil society and the government. CONABI assisted with the establishment of similar commissions in the other countries of Central America, and served as a model for the Central American Commission for Environment and Development.
In June, a Biodiversity Draft Law, No. 12635, was presented to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica. Its 125 articles, distributed in 10 titles and a number of chapters, addresses biosecurity, biotechnology, access to genetic resources, equitable distribution of the benefits obtained from the use of the elements of biodiversity, intellectual property, and cultural diversity with its associated traditional knowledge. An interesting, though legally controversial, aspect of this draft law is the fact that it incorporates a title on the rights of present and future generations, which attempts to recognize food security, health, and biosecurity as individual rights. By the end of the year, this title was still under consideration by the Legislative Commission of Environment.
The suspension of export permits for green iguanas in El Salvador, a temporary sanction imposed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species in 1995, remained a topic of concern. Existing traffic controls and administrative procedures continued to be criticized as insufficient to ensure the sustainable reproduction of this species.
In 1996, Costa Rica designated two sites as wetlands of international importance: the Humedal Caribe forest, part of Tortuguero National Park, and the International Wetland of Terraba Sierpe. The government was also developing a national wetlands strategy and preparing a draft law on wetlands.
Patricia Madrigal Cordero
Colombia ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and implemented it domestically by Law of Congress No. 253 of 29 November. The Convention was ratified with a declaration insisted on by the Constitutional Court, which notes that Art. 81 of the Colombian Constitution expressly prohibits the import of hazardous wastes into national territory.