The Earth’s biological resources are vital to humanity’s economic and social development, as well as for the maintenance of ecosystem health. Countries have long recognized that species, ecosystems, and biological diversity are of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been greater. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate. For these reasons, countries have adopted a range of international treaties to protect species, habitats, and biological diversity itself.
IELP works to strengthen existing legal frameworks and explore new avenues to protect endangered species, genetic diversity, and ecosystems worldwide. IELP has a longstanding history of working with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The purpose of CITES is to protect species against over-exploitation due to international trade. IELP has provided advice to the CITES Secretariat, governments, and conservation organizations concerning implementation of CITES. IELP also engages actively in CITES by drafting proposals to establish or amend CITES implementation mechanisms and participating in working groups to improve implementation of CITES. For example, IELP has provided legal analyses and advice regarding implementation of an exemption for “personal and household effects,” the application of CITES’ permit regime to overexploited fish species such as bluefin tuna, and the legality of various proposals concerning the trade in African elephant ivory.
IELP also explores innovative avenues for biodiversity conservation in other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). IELP has participated in several meetings of the International Whaling Commission, arguing that the monitoring and control mechanisms found in fisheries organizations, such as on-board observers and vessel monitoring systems, could be used to regulate whaling activities. IELP supported conservation efforts to protect ”World Heritage Species” through the World Heritage Convention and other MEAs. Closer to home, IELP has petitioned the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, a trilateral commission established in connection with the NAFTA, to review the failure of the United States to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against loggers. IELP also advises governments on national legislation aimed at protecting threatened habitats and species. For more information on IELP’s biodiversity conservation work, please read our project stories below.
Working with partner organizations International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council, Animal Welfare Institute, and Defenders of Wildlife, IELP has produced and published “CITES and Climate Change: A Need for Integration.”
On the first day of working meetings of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), IELP distributed to the 175 Parties a comprehensive analysis of the Convention that examines the core objectives of the treaty in the context of some of the most important provisions of the Convention.
Chris Wold, director of the International Environmental Law Project (IELP), and Erica Thorson, IELP clinical professor, are in Doha, Qatar to help 175 member governments make decisions to protect species from overutilization due to international trade.
IELP provided Morocco’s Environmental Ministry with a legal analysis of Morocco’s wildlife and customs legislation over concerns about Morocco’s exportation of Barbary macaques.
IELP helped the government of Mauritius to develop legislation to protect its environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs).
IELP and petitioners compel the Fish and Wildlife Service to eliminate the illegal exemption for the logging industry and to initiate a discussion of how to manage forests for bird conservation and commercial logging.
IELP provides legal advice relating to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to governments and environmental groups.
Documents defining proposed criteria for World Heritage Species as well as case studies and discussion papers involving the protection of gorillas and apes.
On June 26, 2007, IELP prepared a petition to list La Amistad International Park in Panama and Costa Rica as a World Heritage site in Danger due to the imminent construction of four hydroelectric dams and increasing problems with human encroachment.
The International Environmental Law Project is located in The Lewis & Clark Law School.