Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin
Chapter 4: The role of non-state actors in treaty regimes for the protection of marine biodiversity
Recent discoveries of the richness of life around deep ocean hydrothermal vents vividly highlight the relative lack of understanding of the resources of the oceans and of the impacts of human activity on them. To this must be coupled the rapid rate of expansion of activities and consequent threats to marine biodiversity in general. These discoveries raise hard questions about how best to manage and conserve biodiversity in the oceans. As these questions arise, so do questions about who has authority to make decisions about the future of the myriad of species that combine to make up that biodiversity. Will legal regimes be effective if established by States alone, or is there a need for other actors to be engaged in decision-making or in the development of the regimes? If there is a need, then what should the nature of that involvement be? Most regimes aimed at protecting marine biodiversity demonstrate a willingness to engage with non-State actors in the development or implementation of the regimes. Indeed in international law more generally, non-State actors have been involved in the development and implementation of the law for a considerable length of time. Their role has gone through various stages with their influence ebbing and flowing across the decades. More recently the perception has been that the influence of both non-State actors, and NGOs in particular, has increased and that their role ought to be enhanced.
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