University of Sussex
Smallwood, Joanna Miller.pdf (2.92 MB)

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s objectives include conservation of biological diversity at a global level, but has it become another victim of extinction as a result of its text and strategic plan?

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posted on 2023-06-09, 18:25 authored by Joanna SmallwoodJoanna Smallwood
This thesis uses a socio-legal approach to explore the nature of the UN 1992’s Convention of Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi targets (ATs). It uses different theories to grasp how international legal obligations such as the ATs can be viewed and how these theoretical underpinnings of legal obligation relate to theories of compliance. It uses doctrinal analysis, interview data and a ‘micro-ethnography’ of CBD COP13 to critically assess the decision-making process and the CBDs compliance mechanisms in light of the theory of interactional law. Finally, it looks at processes that internalise the ATs into domestic law and policy in the UK, specifically AT2 on biodiversity values and AT9 on Invasive Alien Species. The CBD has gone far in forming a legal regime to address the global biodiversity crisis, but most of the ATs will not be reached by 2020. The thesis concludes that the failure of the current strategic plan can be understood from an interactional perspective in part due to the lack of fulfilment of internal criteria of legal obligation (e.g. clarity), and also due to failures of the CBD COP to attract broader participation of actors and to create true shared understandings and shape actor identity. Whilst AT2 and AT9 have been internalised in the UK in laws and policies, these are not interactional and do not elicit compliance because they also lack certain criteria of interactional legal obligation. The internalised legal obligations have the potential to form interactional law if they fulfil the relevant criteria. More attention needs to be given in legal and policy making fora to the internal criteria of interactional legal obligation, and to pushing shared understandings in relation to biodiversity conservation through interactions and encouraging broad participation of actors at all levels of governance.


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University of Sussex

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