Sociology of Environmental Law

References and Links to Papers


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.