Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This issue of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law is devoted to the Symposium on Biological Diversity that was convened by the Journal at the Vanderbilt University School of Law on January 20-21, 1995. The focus of the Symposium was the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Biological diversity is a relatively new term in international law and relations. The Biological Diversity Convention was one of the products of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June of 1992. Since the Convention was a product of UNCED, its substance was influenced by the trends surrounding the entire UNCED process.

The Biological Diversity Convention entered into force on December 29, 1993, after 30 states ratified it. By the time the first conference of the parties was held a year later, there were 106 parties and 30 observer states. Initially, the United States did not sign the Convention and has not yet become a party. The Bush Administration opposed the Convention, but the Clinton Administration signed the Convention and submitted it to the United States Senate for its advice and consent subject to certain understandings. For some in the United States, the Convention is controversial.

The Symposium examined the Convention and issues raised by it from a global perspective and from a domestic United States perspective. Although this is a law school journal, the Symposium organizers wisely included on the program not only lawyers (from academia and government) but also persons from other disciplines, including economics, statistics, and business. Participants in the audience contributed views from other disciplines.