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Sociology of Environmental Law

References and Links to Papers


National legislative adoption of international wildlife law after treaty ratification

Since the 1970s, the world has witnessed a proliferation of international treaties championing the protection of wildlife. The effectiveness of those treaties, which together comprise international wildlife law (IWL), depends on their national implementation by individual states rather than on their number. National implementation of IWL ranges from legislative action, to resource allocation, to individual behavioural change. Inadequate IWL implementation can facilitate and even lead to wildlife crime. Therefore, examining how countries operationalise their commitments derived from IWL is important to understand the efficacy (or lack thereof) of wildlife treaties. The main goal of this article is to investigate the dynamics by which nations internalise international wildlife commitments into state law, by using Norway as a case study. The article thus explores the social dynamics that shaped the domestic legal action that Norway undertook after its ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). The study is based on historical data documenting Norway’s legislative processes derived from the conventions and historical records of the country’s environmental conflicts. It applies Chambliss’s sociology of law perspective on conflict to interpret the material. While many globalisation scholars hold that globalisation stripped states of legislative sovereignty, this article argues that Norway’s wildlife policy is mostly dependent on clashes between national forces, rather than Norway conceding legislative powers to the international community. In other words, the tension between economic growth and ecosystem conservation determines how Norway implements IWL commitments. This article contributes to the literature on environmental regime effectiveness and the domestic impact of treaties.


The importance of stories in wildlife management

Storytelling shapes how we understand the world and act in it, including our interactions with nature. For instance, the oral stories Indigenous peoples around the world transmit from generation to generation about the sacred bond between humans and non-humans in the world establish a respectful relationship with ecosystems. However, we have yet to fully understand how stories shape conservation and restoration practices beyond Indigenous communities. In this article, I demonstrate the function of stories in impeding conservation and restoration as well as their potential in advancing conservation and restoration. I interviewed central stakeholders in Norway's wildlife management—activists, civil servants and parliamentarians—and interpreted their stories using narrative theory to analyse how their stories affected what they did in terms of wildlife management. Each cluster of stakeholders relies on different story sources for their work: activists invoke moral stories, civil servants convey scientific accounts and parliamentarians narrate episodes of power. By relying on these diverse sources of stories, I show that the three groups of stakeholders see the world as it relates to conservation and restoration differently from each other, diverge in their actions, and as a result fail to cooperate in wildlife management. The stories that stakeholders tell are telling. The policymaking implications of understanding the power of stories are significant: efficient conservation and restoration programmes require cooperation, but diverging narratives weaken the likelihood of this cooperation. Furthermore, while most governments around the world use international environmental treaties as the narrative source to guide their efforts in preventing the decimation of nature, none of the stakeholders in wildlife management I interviewed relied on this source in their storytelling. While my interviewees are Norwegian, my findings forefront the worldwide importance of stories in conservation and restoration practices.


Contending Philosophical Foundation in International Wildlife Law: A Discourse Analysis of CITES and the Bern Convention

Most analyses of international wildlife law (IWL) focus on the specifics of implementing particular policies, while there is less engagement with the fundamental philosophies underpinning international conventions. In this article, I argue that a philosophical analysis can achieve a deeper understanding of IWL by helping to identify, assess and compare worldviews reflected in these instruments. Additionally, a philosophical analysis can make visible how international wildlife conventions shape human perceptions of and attitudes towards nature. Based on these premises, I subject two international wildlife conventions that are central to wildlife management in Europe, namely, the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to philosophical scrutiny. I argue, first, that the philosophical underpinnings of these instruments are in contention, indicating that their policies might well counteract each other. Second, I postulate that the broad significance of this contention is that the resulting ambivalence when IWL instruments are involved in the same conversation and about the same territoriality results in such high discretional powers for states that they stop being bounded by the conventions’ substratum and can limit themselves to only following the formalities.


Corporate lobbying and criminalisation

On 22 June, 2006 the Colombian Congress, through law 1032 of 2006, reinforced the protection that new varieties of plants have in Colombia by including the breach of breeders’ rights in the contents of article 306 of the Colombian penal code, which now reads: ‘who fraudulently uses commercial names, commercial brands, brands, patents over inventions, utility models, industrial designs or usurps breeders’ rights over vegetal varieties, legally protected or similarly mistakable with protected ones, will incur prison from four (4) to eight (8) years’ [emphasis out of the original text]. This criminalises an act that was not previously sanctioned by the penal law: the usurpation of breeders’ rights. Why is it that this act was criminalised precisely at this juncture and not before or after? What were the main drivers of this change? Who were the main actors involved in this legislative reform? And what can we learn more generally from this case? This article intends to address these questions.

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