ACP-EU resolution on biodiversity & envt (1 of 2)

by GRAIN | 5 Oct 1998
TITLE: ACP-EU Joint Assembly Resolution on "Biodiversity & the Environment" (1/2) AUTHOR: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific - European Union Joint Parliamentarian Assembly, Brussels, 21-24 September 1998 DATE: 24 September 1998 SOURCE: ACP-EU 2612/98/fin URL:

ACP-EU 2612/98/fin


Adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Assembly on 24 September 1998 in Brussels (Belgium)

The ACP-EU Joint Assembly,

meeting in Brussels from 21 to 24 September 1998,

A. noting the urgent need to protect the biodiversity of the planet,

B. having regard to the vast genetic resources of the developing countries, which contain 86% of the higher plant species,

C. whereas six years after the Rio Conference a considerable number of species are still disappearing each day, forests are shrinking and old-growth forests are degrading, fish stocks are dwindling, drinking water is polluted and the global temperature is rising,

D. recognising that biological diversity is the mainstay and source of livelihood for the majority of the population in Africa, and that Africa is particularly rich in biological resources in the form of diverse crops and medicinal plants and immense wildlife resources,

E. recognising that biological resources have been maintained and nurtured by generations of Africa's local and indigenous communities, in particular rural communities such as farmers, hunter-gatherers and local healers whose very existence has almost exclusively been dependent on such resources,

F. noting that the bulk of biological diversity and the knowledge and technologies of how to use it is found in the local and indigenous communities of the South. The poor and hitherto marginalised people of the world have therefore, in recent decades, come to figure as the most important players in many biological resource-based sectors world wide and, in particular, in developing countries,

G. stressing that the developing countries have thus far taken the view that their genetic wealth is a natural resource for the benefit of humankind,

H. whereas the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was signed by 150 States in 1992, which came into force in 1993 and which is currently adhered to by 170 nations, is responding to the increasing recognition of the great contribution of local and indigenous communities to the conservation, maintenance and sustainable use of the world's biological resources,

I. recalling that the CBD requires signatories to protect and promote the rights of communities, farmers and indigenous peoples with respect to their biological resources and knowledge systems, as well as the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the commercial use of communities' biological resources and local knowledge, and asserts that intellectual property rights must not conflict with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,

J. whereas the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), which came into force on 1 January 1995 as a result of the last round of GATT negotiations and which also gave rise to the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), sets up the first global system of intellectual property rights on biological diversity, and specifically plant varieties,

K. noting that TRIPs obliges member countries to adopt either patents or an effective sui generis (unique) IPR system for plant varieties at national level (Article 27(3)(b)) which must be implemented by developing countries by the year 2000 and in least-developed countries by the year 2005 respectively,

L. noting that TRIPs was expressly designed to ensure that intellectual property rights could be universally applied to all technologies, especially those which had previously been declared unsuitable for monopoly rights at national level (including

pharmaceutical products and biological materials such as plants and micro-organisms), all of which must now be subject to private property rights by IPRs,

M. concerned that, as a result of TRIPs obligations, the majority of developing countries will need to provide some form of intellectual monopoly rights on food and medicinal biodiversity for the first time, that farmers' access to diversity, their choice of planting material and options for management systems will be significantly impaired, and their rights to save and exchange seed will be legally restricted, if not prohibited, because of protections granted only to the interests of monopoly holders,

N. further concerned that corporations will be able to secure legal ownership of the world's biodiversity which contains genetic information obtained from the South's farmers' own field, which they then sell back to them for enormous profits, that biodiversity and associated community knowledge systems intended to be protected by the CBD and which form the basis of the adaptability of agriculture will be lost and that food security and agricultural innovation will severely decline,

O. whereas Article 27(3)(b) of the TRIPs agreement will be reviewed in 1999, and whereas this means that the obligation to provide patent or sui generis rights on plant varieties can be removed before member countries are obliged to implement it, thus providing the opportunity to remove this obligation from the WTO framework,

P. believing that, in order to ensure that the world's biodiversity is protected, conserved and sustainably utilised for the survival and well-being of the vast majority of the human population of nation states, the local communities and indigenous peoples constantly keep adapting, generating and regenerating these biological resources, knowledge and technologies for present and future generations,

1. Stresses the vital importance of the planet's genetic resources for all humankind, and calls for the preservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the just and equitable sharing of the advantages deriving from the exploitation of genetic resources;

2. Emphasises the principle enshrined in the CBD concerning the sovereign rights of all countries to their own genetic resources and asks that this principle be respected in legislation and international agreements;

3. Urges the full development of the CBD as an international instrument to ensure the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, based on community control of resources and the sovereign rights of States to determine access to such resources;

4. Calls on the recognition and affirmation of the precedence of the CBD over any other international agreement on matters relating to biological diversity;

5. Stresses how important it is to ensure appropriate technology transfer to the developing countries, since the deployment of properly adapted techniques is an essential condition for preserving and ensuring rational and sustainable exploitation of genetic diversity;

6. Demands that the indigenous peoples be included as participants in decision-making on in-situ conservation measures affecting them, in particular the establishment and management of protected areas; calls, in this context, for respect for the economic, social and cultural rights and land rights of indigenous peoples;

7. Calls for the WTO rules to be revised and for new ecological and social criteria to be adopted for regulating world trade;

8. Urgently calls for the 1999 review of Article 27(3)(b) of the TRIP Agreement to take into account the objectives and provisions of the CBD and to maintain the option of excluding all life forms and related knowledge from IPR protection;

9. Condemns the exportation to the countries of the southern hemisphere of a certain number of dangerous products such as pesticides, biocides and dangerous medicines which are

banned for public health, environmental protection or safety reasons in the industrialised countries;

10. Notes that there is a need for a detailed and comparable inventory of species to enable the situation of threatened species to be assessed, evaluated and improved; calls on the ACP countries and the EU to make an inventory of and to conduct research into natural resources (species, ecosystems and habitats) and to set up databases and gene banks; asks the EU to assist the ACP countries in these activities with technical and financial means;

11. Instructs its Co-Presidents to forward this resolution to the ACP-EU Council, the Commission, the WTO and the secretariat of the CBD.

Author: GRAIN
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