Legal protection of biodiversity with reference to agricultural and medicinal plants
This thesis analyses the international and municipal legal and institutional frameworks for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural and medicinal plants as part of the wider concern of biodiversity conservation. Emphasis is placed on the international policy and legal instruments as well as the domestic legal and institutional frameworks in the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Since individual States, rather than the international community, are the ones responsible for translating international legal obligations into national policies and programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, an analysis of the position with regard to this subject is made in respect of the East African countries. It is argued that the East African countries have not only failed to translate their international legal obligations into national policies and programmes, but that even their existing legal and institutional frameworks do not provide effective mechanisms for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for the countries' economic development. Several reasons are advanced for this failure, the most important one of which is the failure of the political leadership to internalize and incorporate plant genetic resources conservation in the countries' administrative and development structures. Consequently, national policy and legal responses to the problems of biological diversity depletion are either inadequate or absent.
Four themes are central to this analysis. First, although the international community has addressed the problem of loss of biodiversity in various ways, the international legal structure has not allowed the establishment of a policy and legal framework with the requisite authority to monitor conservation at the international level. Second, at the municipal level, the existing natural resource conservation policies and laws in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are a constraint to the development of effective programmes for the protection of biodiversity, given their colonial origin whose basis was conservation of natural resources for colonial exploitation that did not take into account the interests of the native peoples. Third, successful conservation of biodiversity can be done at the local level through the restructuring of policy and legal frameworks to give legal recognition and protection to the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples. Lastly, the conservation of biodiversity in East Africa can be successfully done only when other competing land and natural resources uses, such as population settlement, energy use, alleviation of poverty and servicing of the international debt, are fully accounted for.
Suggestions on how the agricultural and medicinal plants can be conserved and used sustainably in order to meet the developmental needs of the East African countries are made.
The conclusion recapitulates some of the salient issues identified in the study for better protection and conservation of agricultural and medicinal plants. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
0768: Environmental science