A hard instrument goes soft: The implications of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s current trajectory

Harrop, Stuart R. and Pritchard, Diana J. (2011) A hard instrument goes soft: The implications of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s current trajectory. Global Environmental Change, 21 (2). pp. 474-480. ISSN 0959-3780. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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The relentless loss of biological diversity, which will have a direct impact on human society and degrade ecosystem buffers against the extremes of climate perturbation, requires a strong global governance response. Of the numerous international legal instruments relating to the protection of nature, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the most comprehensive. This paper examines its current emphasis on global biodiversity targets to extend our understanding of its trajectory, and its evolving nature as an instrument of global governance. We review CBD documents, and early examinations of its emergent character, in the context of the distinction between hard and soft law approaches, and combine analysis on the issue of targets from the literature on development, climate change and conservation biology. We emphasise that the CBD, created as a hard law instrument with a framework character, had the clear facility to develop subsidiary hard law instruments in the form of protocols but has not significantly followed this route. We document how its approach – which has been typically ‘soft’, as exemplified by its focus on global biodiversity targets which are not backed up by obligations – suggests it operates de facto as policy rather than an instrument requiring state action. The adoption of global targets has parallels with other initiatives within global governance and may influence international political agendas, but they have failed to provide practical instruments for national implementation. Conditions may now exist for the CBD to develop focussed hard legal instruments in specific areas of its wide remit that support realistic targets.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: J Political Science
Q Science
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
K Law
Q Science > QH Natural history
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Stuart Harrop
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2011 12:30
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2014 14:12
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/27907 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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