The role of indigenous peoples in the evolution and implementation of international biodiversity law
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At: 6th CUCS conference (University Coordination for Development Cooperation) on “Citizenship and Common Goods” ; Trento ; 19/09/2019 - 21/09/2019 ; This paper aims to examine the role of indigenous peoples in the context of the international legal regime on the protection of biodiversity. The participation of indigenous peoples in the governance of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is intended in this contribution as one of the multiple examples of how the management and protection of natural resources at the international level can be influenced by local actors. This paper argues that indigenous peoples are shaping global biodiversity law via two main mechanisms, namely their participation in the institutional governance of the CBD and their role in the implementation of the CBD-related provisions concerning access to genetic resources, benefit-sharing, and the creation of protected areas. Representatives of indigenous peoples have been invited to participate in the Working group on Article 8(j), in the Working group elaborating the Nagoya Protocol and in the meetings of the CBD COP. This participation, in most cases as observers, has contributed to shape the agenda of the main steering body of the CBD, i.e. the COP, which has inter alia the role to promote the evolution of the legal framework of the Convention. Most recently, indigenous representatives have been included also in the Compliance Committee created to evaluate the compliance of State Parties with the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing. Furthermore, the implementation of some provisions of the Nagoya Protocol requires the involvement of indigenous peoples in multifarious fashions, such as through the elaboration of community protocols by indigenous peoples, the procedures to obtain the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, the stipulation of mutually agreed terms (MATs) with indigenous peoples, and the participation of indigenous peoples in the governance of protected areas. In light of these developments, the main conclusion is that, although not formally considered as subjects able to create legal obligations for States, indigenous peoples have acquired an important place in the protection of biodiversity at the global level, which in turn has important repercussions on the debate about the importance of local actors in the governance of global commons.