The BeneLex project combines doctrinal and comparative analysis of sources of international law and of normative developments under multilateral environmental, human rights and corporate accountability processes.
This analysis is systematically enriched with real-world insights from the multilateral level through: participant observation in selected multilateral environmental negotiating sessions; organisation of international side-events at the margins of selected multilateral negotiations to gather feedback from negotiators from developing and developed countries, as well as NGOs, industry representatives and community-based organisations active at the multilateral level; and involvement of selected UN legal officers and non-governmental organisations that are active at the multilateral level in the project’s Board of Advisors.
In addition, to understand in a pragmatic and contextualised manner the role of benefit-sharing from the local to the global level, the project integrates empirical legal research and political sociology in the context of fieldwork in Malaysia, South Africa, Namibia, Argentina and the Greek island of Ikaria, in order to better understand the role of different transnational actors (non-governmental organisations, bilateral development partners, multinational enterprises) in shaping and using benefit-sharing in their environmental cooperation with governments and communities.
The project team will thus engage in a dialogue and share its outputs both with academics belonging to different epistemological communities (international law generalists, environmental lawyers, human rights lawyers, political scientists) and with policy and practice communities.
On 19 and 20 September 2019, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera was invited to contribute to the Starting Conference of the Norwegian Centre of the Law of the Sea in Tromsø, Norway, under the theme “Balancing stability and flexibility in adapting to future challenges.” On the basis of BENELEX research, Elisa presented on the multiple dimensions of fairness and equity in a future international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction:
On 11-12 July 2019, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera was invited to deliver a plenary lecture offering an international law perspective on multi-scalar and multi-actor equity and fairness, as part of a session on fair use of multiple resources in cross-scale context, at the international symposium of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan. The workshop focused on how cross-scalar and inter-related socio-ecological problems in the context of natural resource use.
Elisa’s presentation built on BENELEX findings and explained how multi-level legal research on benefit-sharing has contributed to the development of the “One Ocean Hub”, a 5-year programme aimed at transforming the global response to cumulative threats to the ocean through interdisciplinary research collaborations across the UK, Africa, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. The video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aAzcAGOyFg
On 30 April 2019, BENELEX PI Prof Elisa Morgera delivered her inaugural lecture at the University of Strathclyde titled “Human rights and international biodiversity law: hiding in plain sight?” In her lecture, Prof Morgera will reflect on under-utilized opportunities under international biodiversity law and human rights to contribute to equity and sustainability from local to international levels.
The lecture built upon the findings of the BENELEX project, which clarified the relevance of fair and equitable benefit-sharing for local communities’ rights to natural resources, everyone’s human right to science, the human rights of children, and ocean governance. The lecture also drew practical insights from ongoing UN negotiations and SCELG consultancies with UN partners; local communities’ initiatives in Argentina, Greece, South Africa, Namibia and Malaysia. Prof Morgera also explained how multi-level legal research on benefit-sharing has contributed to the development of the “One Ocean Hub”, a new 5-year programme aimed at transforming the global response to cumulative threats to the ocean through interdisciplinary research collaborations across the UK, Africa, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. The video of the lecture can be found at: xxx
BENELEX and the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance is organizing a conference titled “A Vision for Ocean law and Governance for 2020-2030 and Beyond,” which aims to bring together academics and practitioners researching and working on the Law of the Sea with SCELG’s growing community of researchers focusing on international law and the marine environment. on 4t-5th December 2018 at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, UK. BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera will deliver a presentation titled “What can fair and equitable benefit sharing do for the law of the sea?”.
On 26th November 2018, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera gave a keynote speech at the workshop “Advances and Recent developments under the Convention on Biological Diversity” organized by the Law School of the University of Barcelona, Spain. The presentation was based on the BENELEX Working Paper that is available here.
On 26 October 2018, BENELEX researchers Louisa Parks, Wim Peters, Mika Schröder, and Mitchell Lennan presented two papers on the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) arena at the Qualitative Research in Law Conference hosted by The Faculty of Law, Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.
The conference focuses on the methodological aspect of qualitative research, such as data collection methods, data interpretation, and general experiences with qualitative research. The conference will explore research in the areas of anthropology, linguistics, ethnography, narratology, sociology and other related fields that deal vis-à-vis with law, its influence and position in society, as well as the content of legal texts or texts about the law. Louisa and Mika will present their ongoing work exploring the meaning of local stakeholder participation within the context of the CBD. Wim, Mitchell, and Lousia’s paper, entitled “The Integration of Legal Informatics and Scholarly Analysis” presents a focused and close reading workflow model that fosters the deep text interpretation by legal scholars with the aim of answering their research questions.
On 5th October 2018, BENELEX and the University of Edinburgh organized a book launch for D French et al (ends), Linkages and Boundaries in Private and Public International Law (Hart, 2018) in Edinburgh, UK. BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera and Strathclyde Law colleague Lorna Gillies presented their book chapter, partly based on BENELEX research, that develops a research agenda on the interface of public and private international law in the context of benefit-sharing agreements under the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
The BENELEX team organized a workshop on benefit-sharing and the Sustainable Development Goals on 15-17 October 2018 at the University of Trento, Italy. It provided an opportunity to discuss findings from across all areas of research of the BENELEX project and develop a synthesis aimed at policy makers. BENELEX Advisor Duncan French and Prof Louis Kotze participated in the event.
On 7th September, BENELEX researcher Wim Peters presented on legal informatics at the Digital Humanities Conference in Sheffield, UK.
The presentation focused on ongoing BENELEX research applying legal informatics methods to decisions and guidelines adopted under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. This stream of research aims to establish how issues related to indigenous peoples and their their participation in fair and equitable benefit-sharing are approached within different authoritative textual resources. This is done by a detailed study of context. The frequency and meaning of contextual elements reflects changing attitudes towards and perspectives on IPLCs and the nature of their participation. Wim Peters will present a paper that he is developing with BENELEX researchers Prof Louisa Parkes (Univeristy of Trento) and Mitchell Lennan (Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance) titled "How Language Technology can Assist Legal Scholarly Research." To find out more about this work, check also our recent BENELEX blog post at https://benelexblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/what-do-cbd-parties-mean-when-they-talk-about-participation/
On 24th August 2018, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera was invited to contribute to the 15th University of Eastern Finland-UN Environment Course on MEAs on the ‘Environment and Human Rights’ in Joensuu, Finland. The 15th edition of the course gathered 33 participants from 28 countries. Morgera delivered a 1-hour lecture on fair and equitable benefit-sharing at the intersection of international human rights and biodiversity law. The lecture will be included in the 2018 International Environmental Law-making and Diplomacy Review that will be published online and in book form in 2019.
On 9-13 July 2018, BeneLex PI Elisa Morgera contributed to the 2018 summer programme of the Xiamen Academy of International Law with a 10-hour course on BeneLex research findings at the intersection of international biodiversity and human rights law.
The specialized course addressed the progressive development of international law on fair and equitable benefit-sharing in relation to: indigenous peoples’ human rights to natural resources; access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge for research and development purposes; deep-seabed mining and marine bio-prospecting in areas beyond national jurisdiction; and business responsibility to respect human rights.
Prof Morgera’s specialized course ran in parallel with a general course on the Cultural Dimensions of International Law offered by Prof Francesco Francioni (BENELEX Advisor) and a specialized course on International Law and Human Health offered by Gian Luca Burci, former Legal Counsel of the World Health Organizations. The three courses featured multiple synergies in relation to fair and equitable benefit-sharing.
The BeneLex team contributed to the IUCN 16th Annual Colloquium on Environmental Law that SCELG hosted in Glasgow, UK, on 4-6 July 2018, under the theme “The Transformation of Environmental Law and Governance: Innovation, Risk and Resilience”.
- Elsa Tsioumani presented on “Bioinformatics and Synthetic Biology: addressing new challenges for fairness and equity in genetic resource governance”;
- Elisa Morgera presented on “Sharing the benefits of scientific progress fairly and equitably: the contribution of international biodiversity law to the realization of the human right to science (…and the right to development?)”;
- Kim Bouwer presented on “Innovative Approaches to Benefit-Sharing – its use and potential for Climate Finance”; and
- Annalisa Savaresi presented on “Benefit-sharing and Renewable Energy Generation: A Means to a Just Transition?”
On 28th June, the BENELEX team, its advisors, and other scholars interested in fair and equitable benefit-sharing met for the final workshop of the project at Ross Priory, Scotland. The workshop provided an opportunity to receive feedback on BENELEX findings on fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the areas of:
- international biodiversity law
- international climate change law
- international human rights law
- international law on land and agriculture
- law of the sea
In addition, workshop participants provided inputs into the application of legal informatics to the analysis of decisions adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This new stream of research is being carried out by Prof Louisa Parks and two new BENELEX researchers, Dr Wim Peters and Mitchell Lennan (who will be starting his PhD at Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in September 2018). Participants also recommended that a synthesis paper be produced by all BENELEX researchers focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals.
On 3rd May 2018, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera chaired a session of the SCELG Postgraduate Colloquium on "Equity, Economy, and Access to Genetic Resources". BENELEX Visiting Researcher Margherita Brunori presented a paper in that session titled "Global Indicators for an equitable and secure access to land" that in part drew on her contributions to the BENELEX project. The Colloquium was part of SCELG's Second Festival of Environmental Law and Governance.
On 1 May 2018, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera contributed to an all-women-panelist roundtable on the ‘Ocean's Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals’ organized by Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance during the Second Festival of Environmental Law and Governance in Glasgow, UK.
The roundtable brought together marine science, policy, and legal experts from the UK, the Caribbean, Africa, and the South Pacific to discuss recent advances and continuous challenges in marine science and global governance, shedding light on opportunities and bottlenecks for the integrated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Prof Morgera shared BENELEX findings on fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the context of ongoing UN negotiations on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The other researchers on the panel were: Kelly Hoareau, University of Seychelles; Claire Lajaunie, Inserm; Amanda Lombard, Nelson Mandela University; Sian Rees, Plymouth University; Gilliane Brodie, University of South Pacific; Alana Lancaster, University of the West Indies; and Phillie Mbatha, University of Cape Town. BENELEX Ethics Advisor Saskia Vermeylen chaired the event. BENELEX visiting researcher Margherita Brunori drew an infograhic of the discussions.
On 24th April 2018, BENELEX organized an inter-disciplinary roundtable on “Equitable Benefit-sharing and Water Law” at Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK.
Ilkhom Soliev (Martin-Luther-Universitat) presented on “Balancing the discussion of benefit sharing in transboundary water governance: Stressing the long-term costs in an empirical example from Central Asia (Aral Sea)”, underscoring that for managing transboundary resources, such as water resources, benefit-sharing can be used to prompt cooperative and collaborative processes between States. He emphasized that the potential of benefit-sharing to facilitate sustainable cooperation will rely on honest and open dialogues on the complexity of cost and benefit analysis, requiring interdisciplinary work at multiple levels
BENELEX PI Prof Elisa Morgera shared “Initial reflections on fair and equitable benefit-sharing and international watercourse law”, reflecting on the relevance of international biodiversity and human rights law developments on benefit-sharing for inter- and intra-State equity issues in transoundary water management.
Leonard Akwany presented via Skype to share his work on the Nile Basin Initiative, which brings together 10 States in seeking to establish a collaborative and cooperative management framework founded upon fair and equitable benefit-sharing of the Nile Basin Region. He reflected on the role of benefit-sharing in supporting multi-stakeholder processes and in the context of the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
BENELEX will publish an online paper on fair and equitable benefit-sharing and international watercourses law in autumn 2018.
On 6 April 2018, BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera was invited to contribute to The Wake Forest Law Review’s Spring 2018 Symposium, "Rights & Resources: Using Human Rights to Protect Natural Resources" in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Symposium, for which Professor John Knox (former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment) served as faculty adviser, addressed how the exploitation of resources affects marginalized and underrepresented groups. The Symposium proceedings will be published as a special issue of The Wake Forest Law Review.
Watch a recording of Prof Morgera’s presentation on “Human rights and natural resources: the relevance of the Convention on Biological Diversity” (1:09:41).
BENELEX PI Elisa Morgera delivered a presentation titled “Fair and Equitable Benefit- Sharing and Indigenous Peoples’ Natural Resources: Insights from a Global Biodiversity and Human Rights Law Perspective” at the Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, on 15th March 2018, and at Thompson River University, Kamloops, Canada, on 19th March 2018.
The presentation discussed the little-explored but increasingly important area of cross- fertilization between international environmental law and international human rights law around natural resources owned and traditionally used by indigenous peoples. It reflected on fair and equitable benefit-sharing as an inherent component of indigenous peoples' human rights connected to natural resources, shining a light on the respective normative contributions and blind spots of international biodiversity and human rights law in this connection. The presentation then related these doctrinal findings to empirical observations from community-level case studies in South Africa, Namibia, South Africa, and Malaysia, and to relevant ongoing multilateral negotiations.
On 1-2 March 2018, Dr Annalisa Savaresi (Stirling University) presented her research on benefit-sharing in renewable energy projects, in the context of the conference “Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy”, in Edinburgh, UK. Her presentation, titled ‘Benefit-sharing and Renewable Energy Generation: A Means to a Just Transition?’ sought to deliver greater understanding of whether and how benefit-sharing arrangements contribute to deliver a just energy transition, providing recommendations for the deployment of this tool based on best practices. Annalisa is now working on a journal article based on that presentation.
On 15-16 January 2018, BeneLex researcher Elsa Tsioumani participated in the second meeting of the Rethinking Biodiversity Network at Sciences Po, in Paris. The meeting comprised discussions involving representatives from governments, international organizations, civil society, and academia, on the successes and limitations of the current Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, options for the post-2020 Strategic Plan, and potential research outputs.
On 6 September 2017, BeneLex researcher Kim Bouwer contributed to the Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars, held this year at University College Dublin, with a paper entitled ‘Benefit Sharing and Climate Finance’. The paper explained the relevance of benefit-sharing in the context of climate change, and explored key areas where benefit-sharing concepts might be helpful in the provision of climate finance.
On 17 November 2017, Dr Bouwer contributed to the Annual Conference of the International Association of Legal and Social Philosophy, UK Branch, hosted this year by the Sheffield Law School with a paper based entitled ‘The potential for distributive justice – benefit sharing as a safeguard in climate finance,’ to explore the contributions of a benefit-sharing frame from a distributive justice perspective, as well as problematic areas and challenges. Dr Bouwer will published a BeneLex working paper on benefit-sharing and climate finance in early 2018.
On 20 October 2017, Dr Saskia Vermeylen (BeneLex Research Ethics Advisor) contributed to the Conference for the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with a presentation prepared jointly with BeneLex PI Elisa Morgera entitled “Free Prior Informed Consent from Moral Theory to Practice: Insights from Bioethics and International Biodiversity Law.”
On 10 November 2017, BeneLex PI Prof. Elisa Morgera and BeneLex research fellow Louisa Parks spoke at the University of Leeds on ‘Environment, the law and the people: views of fair and equitable benefit-sharing from the perspectives of international law and political sociology’. The talk focused on BENELEX empirical findings from the perspectives of international law and political sociology, with a view to assessing the contribution of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of fair and equitable benefit-sharing across scales.
On 23 November 2017, Prof. Morgera and Parks delivered a keynote address at the Colloquium ‘Environmental Politics, Economy and Knowledge’ at the University of Turku, Finland on the topic of ‘Global/Local Environmental Politics, Law and Knowledge’. A recording of Dr Parks and Prof. Morgera's keynote presentation.
On 14-15 September 2017, BeneLex PI Elisa Morgera participated in the first workshop of the Rethinking Biodiversity Governance Network at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway. Prof Morgera shared the latest research findings of the BeneLex project on fair and equitable benefit-sharing and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities connected to natural resources, in order to provide insights into the challenges to be addressed in a post-2020 international biodiversity strategy. The event was attended by researchers and practitioners involved in CBD negotiations in various capacities.
On 28 November-1st December 2017, Elisa Morgera and Daniela Diz participated in the Annual Science Conference of the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Programme. SCELG shared the findings of the MARINE BENEFITS projects on fair and equitable sharing arising from sustainable fisheries with small-scale fishing communities together with other ESPA fisheries-related projects; shared BENELEX research findings on the links between fair and equitable benefit-sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity and payments for ecosystem services; and exchanged experiences of inter-disciplinary research.
Dr Sophia Kopela from Lancaster Law School discussed the issue of historic titles and rights in the South China Sea arbitration (Philippines v China). Dr James Harrison, Edinburgh Law School, critically examined international law on dumping at sea. Dr Daniela Diz shared preliminary legal findings from the MARINE BENEFITS research project (www.marinebenefits.ed.ac.uk). BeneLex PI Elisa Morgera identified multiple benefit-sharing dimensions in the ongoing negotiations for a new treaty on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.