Southern countries are pursuing biodiversity strategy modelled off of the lessons learned from UNCLOS
[ Page 865-866 ]
South countries, such as the 53 nations in the Africa Union, are advancing the way forward by legislating national laws for protecting, while at the same time sharing, biodiversity as advocated by the CDB. Such an approach delimits individual private property by affirming community rights over biodiversity, in shared jurisdiction with national governments. Another initiative among non-governmental organizations revives the international discussion that the gene pool, like the seabed, belongs to the common heritage of mankind:
the intrinsic value of the Earth's gene pool.. .precedes its utility and commercial value .... [T]he Earth's gene pool, in all its biological forms and manifestations, exists in nature and, therefore, must not be claimed as intellectual property even if purified and synthesized in the laboratory .... Therefore, the nations of the world declare the Earth's gene pool... to be a global commons, to be protected and nurtured by all peoples and further declare that genes and the products they code for, in their natural, purified or synthesized form... will not be allowed to be claimed as commercially negotiable genetic information or intellectual property by governments, commercial enterprises, other institutions or individuals.99
Only in the preliminary stages of discussion in international fora, such as the Johannesburg Summit, ten years post-Rio (August 2002), this proposed treaty renews the debates over equity in the use of "common heritage" resources. As this discourse continues, legal interpretation and political experience from UNCLOS will become relevant for clarifying key issues, especially debates over private versus community versus public property over resources necessary to sustain all human life. An international law of the seed will develop dynamically, from shared use and adjudication, as is the international law of the sea.
"International Law of the Sea/Seed: Public Domain versus Private Commodity
." Natural Resources Journal
. Vol. 44, No. 3 (Summer 2004): 841-866. [ More (6 quotes) ]
The negotiations and compromises that led to the development of UNCLOS were a watershed for the development of international law and could serve as a model for the development of similar regimes for the governance of other global commons, including outer space, cyberspace, and the genetic pool.