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The Nature of Law Newsletter, December 2010

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PROVIDING NEWS & PERSPECTIVES ON ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL & INTERNATIONAL LAW PRACTICE

December 2010

Message from the Chief Counsel


This edition of our newsletter once again brings together a set of articles on three recent and important international developments with relevance for the environment and socially sustainable development. Marking a momentous development at the regional level, but with potentially global implications, on February 4, 2010 the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a decision which for the first time quite comprehensively addresses the issue of Indigenous Peoples in Africa. The decision, which is the subject of the article by Victor Mosoti, determines who indigenous peoples in Africa are, and what their rights are. The decision concerns rights to ancestral lands claimed by the Endorois community in central Kenya and the African Court’s decision is likely to have major implications for similar claims. The decision is path-breaking in other ways as well: it is the first by an international tribunal to find a violation of the right to development, and from the perspective of the World Bank, important in that the Endorois cited the World Bank Policy on Indigenous Peoples (OP 4.10) in support of their claim. Yuan Tao casts light on the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, which was adopted on November 23, 2010, by 13 Tiger Range Countries as one of the key achievements linked to the Bank’s work on the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI).  Given the tragic decline in wild tigers  to just about 3200 today, the Declaration is an important instrument both because it serves to emphasize tiger conservation as a priority and also because it commits countries to undertake measures to achieve this goal, including strengthening national legislation, institutions, and law enforcement to combat crime directed against tigers. Lastly, Sachiko Morita discusses another major international legal milestone and a needed show of progress for global environmental governance.  After nearly 18 years since it was proposed, the legally binding Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (“Nagoya Protocol”) was finally adopted on October 29, 2010 by 193 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan. The protocol sets out the legal regime for ensuring that benefits derived from the use of genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably, and as a result, contribute to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

We hope you enjoy this last edition of the year, and as always feel free to share your comments and suggestions. We wish you a happy holiday season and a successful new year.   

Charles E. Di Leva
Chief Counsel, Environment and International Law Unit
Legal Vice Presidency - The World Bank

Features


Endorois Welfare Council vs. Kenya
Victor Mosoti

In a landmark decision delivered on February 4 2010,  the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights affirmed a report by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights that the Endorois, a pastoralist community in central Kenya, had customary rights to land from which they had been dispossessed by the Kenyan Government in 1973. The court found that this eviction, with minimal compensation, violated the Endorois’ rights under the African Charter as an indigenous people, to: property (Article 14); culture (Article 17(2) and (3)); religion (Article 8); natural resources (Article 21); and development (Article 22). It ordered the Kenyan Government to restore the Endorois to their ancestral land and to compensate them. This decision is far-reaching for many reasons, among them, it is the first to determine who indigenous peoples in Africa are, and what their rights are. It is also the first by an international tribunal to find a violation of the right to development. More  

The International Tiger Conservation Forum Opened in St. Petersburg
Yuan Tao 

On November 23, 2010, leaders of 13 nations assembled in St. Petersburg for the International Tiger Conservation Forum (also known as the “Tiger Summit”).  Held in the United Nations Year of Biodiversity and the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese Zodiac, the Tiger Summit, hosted by the Russian Government with support of the World Bank and Global Environment Facility (GEF), is the culmination of the work of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI).  It is also the first high-level assembly in history in an effort to save an endangered species.  Government officials from 13 Tiger Range Countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam, signed the St. Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, affirming their resolve to save wild tigers from extinction.  These 13 countries are considered as the last refuges of Asia’s, and perhaps the World’s, iconic species. More 

After 18 years, a Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources is Adopted at COP 10
Sachiko Morita 

A legally binding Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (“Nagoya Protocol”)  was adopted by the 193 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan.  The Protocol aims to ensure that the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably, and thereby contributing to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components. More  

 

Publications


International Environmental Law, the World Bank, and International Financial Institutions

Charles di Leva published a book chapter entitled “International Environmental Law, the World Bank, and International Financial Institutions” in a book co-edited by Daniel D. Bradlow and David B. Hunter, International Financial Institutions and International Law (Kluwer Law International, 2010). The chapter reviews how International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have dealt with their international environmental law obligations. The chapter focuses on the World Bank’s environmental policies and activities as well as those of other IFIs and discusses how they deal with some of international environmental law issues that arise from their activities. Noting the “exquisite ambiguity” of the constitutive Articles of Agreement of all IFIs, the chapter discusses the challenges that IFIs face in complying with all applicable international legal requirements. It successfully places IFIs’ activities, policies and challenges within the broader context of international law and international environmental law. Overall, the chapter underscores the important role the Bank, as well as other IFIs are playing with regard to environmental affairs at both a global level and in the countries that benefit from their financial assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  


The Environment and International Law Unit of the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency (LEGEN) provides advice to the Bank on all environmental and international legal and policy issues related to Bank-financed, implemented and/or supported projects.

For futher information, please email us: legalhelpdesk@worldbank.org

 

 


Last updated: 2010-12-06




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