Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Alexander Gillespie

This important and timely book provides a rigorous overview of the defining issues presently facing conservation at international level. The author provides detailed coverage of topics ranging from the classification of species right through to access and benefit sharing, drawing on his personal experience at intergovernmental level. Each question is examined through the prism of dozens of treaties and hundreds of decisions and resolutions of the key multilateral regimes, and the law in each area is supplemented by the necessary considerations of science, politics and philosophy – providing much-needed context for the reader.

Chapter 9: Exceptions for Indigenous Peoples, Science and the Military

Alexander Gillespie

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


INTRODUCTION Aside from the common exception in most wildlife agreements which allows the taking of protected species in situations of emergency,1 the three most notable exceptions in international law in general, and not specifically for CITES, are for the taking of protected species pertaining to the needs of indigenous peoples, for the needs of science and for the needs of the military. This chapter examines some of the impacts of these exceptions, and the way that international conservation law has responded to them. In all three instances, although the exceptions are important, they are not without limits. This is especially so as international conservation law emerged over the twentieth century, and attempts were made to rein in areas of potential difficulty in the continued take of endangered species, via the use of ‘exceptions’. 2. THE TAKE OF SPECIES FOR TRADITIONAL AND/OR CULTURAL REASONS Humanity has been effectively extinguishing species since the later half of the Cenozoic era. No other predator has come close to matching the human capacity to catch and kill, ignoring habitat boundaries and geographic barriers. Known as the ‘overkill’ thesis, the fossil evidence shows the detrimental impacts on other species due to arrivals and conquests by humans as early as 11,000 years ago. Among genera of large mammals, about 73 percent, 80 percent and 68 percent respectively became extinct (often in conjunction with other non-human factors) in North America, South America, and Australia at the time of, or soon after, human arrival. The ‘overkill’ thesis...

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