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Fair and Equitable Negotiations? African Influence and the International Access and Benefit-Sharing Regime

Coolsaet, Brendan, John Pitseys. 2015. Fair and Equitable Negotiations? African Influence and the International Access and Benefit-Sharing Regime. Global Environmental Politics, 15(2): 38-56.

Abstract

In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (access and benefit-sharing, or ABS).  Nagoya Protocol adoption resulted from a long set of negotiations on the making of an international ABS regime, triggered by a situation of distributive injustice: countries using genetic resources reap most of the benefits, while the costs related to the conservation and protection of these same resources are mainly carried by provider countries. Through the establishment of an international ABS regime, benefits and burdens arising from the use of genetic resources should thus be shared fairly between user and provider countries.

This article uses the African countries’ influence in the ABS negotiations as a proxy to analyze conditions promoting a fair share of influence. As African nations are among the most disadvantaged in the world, one can reasonably expect them to represent a lowest common denominator in terms of participation and influence.  While the relationship between influence and justice is complex (and goes beyond the scope of this article), we argue that if African countries can influence the process, all other parties are at least equally capable of doing so as well, thus pointing towards procedural justice.

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