Recognising Biodiversity Conservation as a “Common Concern of Mankind”: A Legal Appraisal

10 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2023

Date Written: December 30, 2020


By analysing the legal provisions of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol, this article focuses on the legal implications of recognising biodiversity conservation as a “common concern of mankind”. In this context, the “common concern” concept clearly involves precise environmental protection, through actions (and addressing resources) that transcend the territorial sovereignty of individual States; establish common responsibilities towards the international community; and develop international regulations and institutions to secure these objectives. When applied in this context, this concept poses a significant legal implication for national sovereignty and the international community. It restricts sovereignty by requiring States to meet a national-level version of the standard of due diligence, including by adopting laws, and developing strategic plans, as well as entering into partnership with local, indigenous communities, the private sector and international communities for their implementation. It also establishes among the States a “common but differentiated responsibility” towards the entire international community a duty to cooperate and collaborate for the conservation of biodiversity. These legal implications have been subject to legal debates and challenges, especially when they require the setting of standards of due diligence applicable to all States and most particularly with regard to commitments they have made regarding technical and financial cooperation. It is clearly quite difficult to enforce such legal obligations precisely, particularly under the CBD’s regulatory regime. To uphold the “common concern” approach, all nations will need to participate and to accept both their respective differentiated responsibilities and the restrictions that this approach imposes on national sovereignty. The international regulatory regime also needs to develop a new compliance technique and enforcement mechanism. Such global responses and efforts are indispensable for sustaining life on earth.

Keywords: Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, Nagoya Protocol, common concern of mankind, transboundary environmental cooperation, environmental protection, national sovereignty, indigenous and local communities, commonbut-differentiated responsibility, technical cooperation, financial cooperation

Suggested Citation

Zaman, Sharaban Tahura, Recognising Biodiversity Conservation as a “Common Concern of Mankind”: A Legal Appraisal (December 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Sharaban Tahura Zaman (Contact Author)

School of Law, UC Berkeley ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
5106421476 (Phone)
CA 94720-1 (Fax)

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