Methodology and sources

AuthorElisa Morgera
Policy Department, Directorate-General for Extern al Policies
3 Methodology and sources
Ther e is little acad emic liter atu re on biodiv ers ity as a huma n rig ht, pa rticu larly with rega rd to the content
and status of relevant international standards. This study has, therefore, mainly focused (in Part I) on the
ana lysis of intern ational leg al instruments, drawing from the author’s own findings from over 15 years of
independent r esearch on the CBD, including participant o bservation in CBD meetings fro m 2005 to the
present day an d exchanges with community repres entatives, activists, conservation organisations,
researchers and government officials in Argentina, Malaysia, Namibia and South Africa1. However, several
studies h ave been published on E U ext erna l initiat ives t hat are r eleva nt fo r biod ivers ity as a hum an right,
alth ough mos t do n ot a sses s th ese initia tives specif ically or sys temat ically fr om in ternatio nal biodive rsity
and human rights perspectives. For this reason, Part I is longer than the others, which cover material that
is better k nown to th e intended audience of this study. Parts II and III analyse recent academic literature on
EU external action (2015-2019), taking into consideration the author’s own academic research on the
integration of biodiversity and human rights concerns in the EU’s external relations, which contained a
review of relevant literatu re until 2014. Part II also refer s to the EU’s position in multilateral processes on
the basis of independent reporting by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ( Par t III covers
prim ary EU exter nal r elat ions m ate rial as we ll, not ably b ilater al tr eat ies an d EU law wit h extern al re lations
Against this background, the methodology followed in this report is mainly doctrinal (desk-based anal ysis
of legal instru ments according to general rules o f legal interpr etation), but inspir ed by an under standing
of the mutual interactions among international, EU, national and subnation al law ins trum ents (global
environm ental law: Kulovesi et al, 2019; Morg era, 2012). The r eport draws on o ver a decade of regular
inter actio ns wit h exper ts involved in inte rnational bio diversit y and hu man rights issues (in cluding relevant
UN bodies, such as UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN
Environm ent Programm e) togeth er with EU delegation members in the CBD processes a s well as
nego tiation s on a new UN instrument on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national ju risdictio n. In
addition, the author has been in contact with the European Parliament and the EEAS before finalising this
The study’s main limitation, due to constraints in length and the compressed timeframe, is that additional
primary material could not be cons ulted. This wou ld have facilitated a greater unders tanding of the
implem enta tion o f EU ext erna l action (declarat ions aris ing fr om policy dialogu es, cou ntry st rategy papers,
EU posit ions in inte rnat ional hu man r ights p rocess es, etc). Moreo ver , t he sit u atio n i s co m po unde d by the
scarcity of em pirical studies independen tly assessing the implementation of EU external action in r elation
to biodiversity, notably with regard to understanding the interactions between different instruments (for
instance, bilateral trade agreements, financing and dialogues).
1 In the c ontext of the followi ng researc h projec ts led by the author of thi s study: European Rese arch Council -funded proj ect
BENELEX: ‘B ene fi t-sharing for an Equit able Transiti on to t he Gree n Economy: The Role of Law’ - European Research Council Starting
Grant 335592 (2013-2018); UK Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation-funded proje ct MARI NE BENEFITS: ‘Sharing t he benefi ts
of sustainable fisheries: from global to local legal approaches to marine ecosystem services for poverty alleviation’ Grant
NE/M007650/1 (2015-2017); and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI ) through the Global Challenges Re search Fund (GCRF)-funded
One Ocean Hub (2019-2024).

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