International agreements and processes affecting an international regime on access and benefit sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity: implications for its scope and possibilities of a sectoral approach
Negotiating access and benefit sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with a view to mutual supportiveness with other international agreements is a challenging task. This report highlights many key interfaces that must be taken into consideration if a new international regime is to be mutually supportive with already established international commitments.
The document deems that there are good arguments for a broad and inclusive international regime on ABS. Still, it will need to take into account the special characteristics of the different sub-categories of genetic resources. A proper regime would entail having general provisions that apply for all sectors dealing with ABS sides, and sector-specific provisions that meet the specific features and needs of specific sub-categories of genetic resources.
The paper concludes that:
- for benefit sharing to take place there must be a legally binding system on user-country measures to safeguard the realisation of this objective; a stand-alone disclosure requirement will not be sufficient to achieve the benefit-sharing obligations
- the user-country measures must be kept at a cross-sectoral level to achieve functionality
- there should be further specification of what is meant by ‘utilisation of genetic resources’, surveillance mechanisms and enforcement mechanisms for the providers of genetic resources under the jurisdiction of user country
- there should be obligation upon users to conduct fair and equitable benefit sharing, and obligation of the user countries to implement legislative and administrative measures to ensure that benefits are shared
- a sectoral approach could be designed in various ways and through different processes; these may include special chapters on relevant sub-categories of genetic resources, or annexes to be negotiated within the framework of CBD
- if an international regime on ABS covers these resources adequately, that might solve the long-lasting dispute.