Governance of Genetic Resources
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Governance of Genetic Resources

A Guide to Navigating the Complex Global Landscape

Catherine Rhodes

Governance of Genetic Resources maps out a landscape of the international governance of genetic resources. It shows what governance efforts currently exist, what is missing, which areas are problematic, and outlines what the international community should be aiming for in regard to its future development and implementation.
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Chapter 5: Rules

A Guide to Navigating the Complex Global Landscape

Catherine Rhodes


This chapter outlines the main international rules of relevance to the governance of genetic resources. Summaries of the rules are given in five thematic categories: collection, conservation and access and benefit-sharing (ABS); health and disease control; human rights; intellectual property protection; and other. These categories are used for organizational purposes; several of the rules are relevant to more than one of the themes. Genetic resources are covered by a range of international rules. The focus in this book is on those that are potentially universal – that is, open to all states to subscribe to. International rules can take the form of legally binding treaties and protocols, which establish legal obligations for states parties, or of voluntary guidance in the form of standards, guidelines, codes and declarations. The latter may not have legal force, but they can, nonetheless, exert influence on state behaviour. Treaties generally take longer to negotiate and have more formal procedures for review and amendment than voluntary agreements. Voluntary guidance can, therefore, be easier to update and keep pace more readily with scientific advances. Voluntary guidance may be used as an interim measure while treaties are under negotiation, but often they are designed to play a more permanent role. The CBD was adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) and entered into force in 1993. It currently has 193 states parties.

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