Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Lee A. Kimball

First Page



The Symposium convenors posed the following question: "Is a United Nations convention the most appropriate means to pursue the goal of biodiversity?" In response, the author notes that the Biodiversity Convention does not entail many binding obligations; rather, it provides a management framework from which further detailed action programs may develop. In the context of nonbinding international "soft law," the author advocates the adoption of a series of best practice "menus" for individual industries and sectors of activity, based on a review of existing technical criteria and guidelines. The author recognizes that specialized initiatives pursuant to the regional seas agreements and other biodiversity-related conventions may provide technical guidance for conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity. Ms. Kimball also highlights the importance of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as an instrument for reinforcing the Biodiversity Convention's marine biodiversity objectives. The Article divides the task of implementing the Biodiversity Convention between regional and global institutions and stresses the need to build upon existing programs. The author asserts that regional bodies are useful for specialized data collection, assessment, and policy-making, while global bodies are essential for integrating legal regimes in relation to conditions in the region. Finally, Ms. Kimball explains that global bodies set overall policy, synthesize information from the different regions, and identify solutions.