Environmental organizations and activists originated it. The United Nations Environmental Program expedited it. States’ governments ratified it. Corporations profit from it. Fourth World nations, their cultures and their very existence are being destroyed by it. It is the Convention on Biodiversity initialed in 1992 and ratified by virtually all of the world’s states’ governments. What began in the 1970s as a major effort by people of goodwill to establish international protections for the world’s diverse biological and other life giving beings has become the profit-driven juggernaut led by corporations and developers to commercialize wild forests, plants, animals and indigenous peoples. The Convention on Biodiversity is no longer an international movement to preserve the “world’s diverse biota.” The Convention should be renamed the “Convention on Developing for Profit the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Lands and Resources.” Despite its convoluted words suggesting otherwise, the Convention on Biodiversity has the sole purpose of dividing and commercializing Fourth World nations. There is an alternative to this headlong rush to develop wild plants into new commercial pharmaceuticals. There is an alternative to bio-corporations establishing patents on genes taken from remote indigenous peoples. There is an alternative to building “eco-touristic” hotels in the midst of jungles, and yes, Geraldine there is an alternative to “harvesting” the rainforest. Each state of the world must negotiate a compact on biocultural diversity with each Fourth World nation to establish restrictions on access to Fourth World people, plants, animals and lands.
The Convention on Biodiversity contains many articles, but one of them “Article 8j” contains language specifically pointing to a way to avoid a global catastrophe that is sure to come from implementing this new treaty.
My take on relations between nations and states in connection with biodiversity and intellectual property rights is that Article 8j requires that states’ governments enter into bilateral or multilateral covenants with Fourth World nations to effectively implement 8j. Indeed, I cannot see any alternative to the formal negotiation of biological diversity and intellectual property rights protocols binding each state to specific arrangements worked out with each (and I underline “each”) nation. Where an individual nation is not specifically equipped to enter into such protocols, I believe the state is obliged under international law to take all measures to avoid and prevent external interference (meaning governments, corporations, domestic businesses, environmental groups, religious groups, etc.) in the internal affairs of a nation that does not have a formal protocol. External interactions with such nations must be a result of formal initiative by the nation itself. In other words, I have constructed a thesis that argues that relations between Fourth World nations and states’ governments (and here we also mean corporations, businesses, non-governmental groups, international multlateral organizations, religous bodies, etc.) must be structured within the framework of an internationally recognized bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreement specifically having to do with implementation of Article 8j and Agenda 21.
It is not possible for each state to sensibly “administer” Article 8j in connection with each of the indigenous nations inside its boundaries. One problem that this suggestion faces is how to administer peoples and territories located in more than one state (Sami [Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia], Massi [Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania], Blackfeet [Canada, United States of America], Kumiai [Mexico, United States of America] to name just a few). Fourth World peoples are like nature…they don’t necessarily respect state’s government boundaries. Their territories and peoples must be addressed under international agreements between each nation and one or more states. Without such a structured international arrangement, corporations humored by state’s governments or international organizations will be able to bypass any state law and indeed, they may even prevent certain state laws designed to recognize and protect Fourth World nation intellectual property from being enacted.
Evidence of collusion between states’governments and corporations, environmental groups and various international bodies (WTO, ILO) is well known. More importantly it is well known (though not always faced) that the results of such collusion has been to the disadvantage of Fourth World nations.
Evidence of collusion between international organizations like the United Nations and trans-state corporations is not so well-known. Indeed, the United Nations has had a strong record of dressing down trans-state corporations in the past. But, it appears that the changes (deregulation) by states’ governments over the last 20 years have weaken the UN’s regulatory zeal. As of this year, the United Nations has begun a formal collusion to facilitate trans-state corporation entry into Third World states and consequently Fourth World nations.
We at CWIS recently received this report:
Earlier this year, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for a partnership to be forged between the UN and global business. To defeat an emerging backlash against economic globalization, big corporations should work with the UN to devise ways to operate responsibly in the Third World, he said.
Such corporations formerly under UN scrutiny such as Rio Tinto are now being touted as “partners” of the United Nations:
…Rio Tinto, a UK-based mining giant which has compiled a stunning record of violating the very human rights, labor and environmental principles the GSDF is designed to promote. In South Africa-occupied Namibia in the 1980s, for example, the company mined in contravention of numerous UN resolutions and amidst charges that it subjected black miners to horrible workplace and housing conditions. The company has been rocked by protests in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.
Other corporations brought into the UN partnership include: Dow Chemical, Citibank and Asea, Brown Boveri, a Swiss-Swedish company which is helping to build some of the most controversial large dams in the world.
With the United Nations cozying up to the international bad-boys—virtually all of whom want to take advantage of Fourth World nations’ cultural and living diversity as well as intellectual property it does not seem a sound argument that states’ governments can responsibly implement Article 8j.
Only direct, bi-lateral or multi-lateral agreements (internationally sponsored and supervised) enforceable by a mutually agreed third party can ensure maximum protection to Fourth World nations. If there is to be state legislation, it must be legislation agreeing to enter into such agreements while accepting the caveat of non-intervention with those peoples where agreements are not or have not been concluded.
Fourth World nations live in and live with virtually all of the world’s last remaining wildlife. The Convention on Biodiversity targets all of that for development…to make the world into a product you can buy on the internet. Such an outcome cannot be permitted. Only Fourth World nations have the position of protecting the natural wealth of the world for the benefit of the whole world. Fourth World nations must be permitted to decide for each of the thousands of ecosystems.