For more information about CIEL's Biodiversity Program, contact Melissa Blue Sky.
Since 1993, CIEL has worked to promote implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity , a legal framework for a comprehensive ecosystem-based approach to conservation. Our work in this area included:
In 1997 at the intergovernmental workshop on traditional knowledge in CIEL presented recommendations, Using Intellectual Property as a Tool to Protect Traditional Knowledge.
In 1999, CIEL prepared two white papers for WWF-US on key legal issues facing negotiators of a new fisheries agreement in the Central and Western Pacific, Effective Decision-Making and Effective Dispute Resolution. The papers reviewed precedent in international law as well as creative options for effectively designing and implementing regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements -- one of the top priorities in international conservation law today.
CIEL seeks to 1) reform trade rules so that they support rather than impede conservation and sustainable use. 2) ensure that trade liberalization is paralleled and balanced by stronger frameworks for conservation and sustainable use of biological resources affected by trade.
March 1999 legal challenge to a US patent claimed on the "ayahuasca" vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, which is native to the Amazonian rainforest. CIEL filed this request for reexamination of the patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office on behalf of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Coalition for Amazonian Peoples and Their Environment (the Amazon Alliance). COICA objected to the patent because it purported to appropriate for a U.S. citizen a plant that is sacred to many indigenous peoples of the Amazon, used by them in religious and healing ceremonies.
In March 1999, CIEL, COICA and the Amazon Coalition also asked the PTO to carry out a broader review of the impacts of its policies and procedures on traditional knowledge. In August 1999, CIEL followed this request up with detailed recommendations for changes to PTO procedures on "prior art" that would better protect traditional knowledge.
In 1996, we published What Price Biodiversity?, which proposed reforms to US law and policy. We also co-authored a policy brief with Conservation International, Encouraging Private Sector Support for Biodiversity Conservation: The Use of Economic Incentives and Legal Tools.