Norway's Wolf Policy and the Bern Convention on European Wildlife: Avoiding the 'Manifestly Absurd'
Forthcoming in 20(2) Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy, 2017
11 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 7, 2017
Norway's evolving national policy regarding the conservation and management of gray wolves (Canis lupus) is hotly debated. Some of the debate concerns the compatibility of this policy with the Council of Europe's 1979 Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, to which Norway is a contracting party. This article aims to provide some further clarification in this regard, by addressing certain key dimensions of Norway's obligations under the Convention concerning wolf conservation. Specifically, it addresses the minimum population level prescribed in Article 2 of the Convention; the perspective of the transboundary wolf population shared by Norway and Sweden; and the role of the Bern Convention's Standing Committee and Secretariat. It does so by viewing relevant Convention provisions in light of public international law's basic rules of treaty interpretation, and applying those provisions to Norway's wolf policy. This analysis strongly suggests that certain basic tenets of Norway's past and current wolf policy are at odds with the country's obligations under the Bern Convention. In particular, the current wolf population target of four to six reproductions per year - a target which functions as a minimum and a maximum - appears to be well below the level required by Article 2 of the Convention.
Keywords: International environmental law, Norway, wolf, Bern Convention, wildlife, biodiversity
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