Environmental Rights and International Peace: Protections of Biological and Cultural Diversity: Emerging Recognition of Local Community Rights in Ecosystems Under International Environmental Law (L. P. Breckenridge)


Lee. P. Breckenridge


United Nations, UN, environmental protection, development, international policies, biological diversity, ecosystems, international peace, cultural diversity, local communities, community rights



The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 forged a new consensus on international environmental policies to protect the world’s biological diversity and its most fragile ecosystems. The documents produced by UNCED (the Rio Declaration, 1Agenda 21, 2 and the Forest Principles 3 ) and the two conventions opened for signature at the conference (the Convention on Biological Diversity 4 and the Convention on Climate Change 5 ) all take important steps toward the formulation of international standards governing the use and management of living resources to preserve their diversity and renewability into the future.

The articulation of international environmental requirements is accompanied, strikingly, by a new recognition of local communities’ roles in protecting biological diversity and ecosystem viability. “Grassroots” empowerment has become a centerpiece of the environmental agenda. Throughout the UNCED documents, 6 a mandate for decentralization goes hand-in-hand with the centralization expressed in new international environmental norms and institutional mechanisms. International environmental law is emerging as a new source of authority for pluralism, and protection of biological diversity has become inextricably linked to protection of cultural diversity…


(1992) 59 Tennessee Law Review 735


Environmental Rights and International Peace: Protections of Biological and Cultural Diversity: Emerging Recognition of Local Community Rights in Ecosystems Under International Environmental Law