Development Law Service Newsletter - Issue #1 of 2017

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In this issue:

The sustainable exploitation of wildlife

The relative accessibility and affordability of wild meat for urban populations is resulting in the over-exploitation of wildlife resources. In addition, more and more natural habitats are being converted to other uses such as agriculture. These factors are depleting wildlife resources, so that wildlife is increasingly unable to play its essential ecological roles (e.g., seed dispersion and nutrient cycling).

Furthermore, rural families are losing an ecological service vital to their nutrition, livelihoods and cultural identities. Food and nutrition insecurity is on the increase, as well as the incidence in human versus wildlife conflicts. Risks for animal and human health are also on the rise.

In several countries, these are the consequences of ineffective legal frameworks and limited enforcement capacities. The Sustainable Wildlife Management (“SWM”) programme, an initiative aimed at reconciling wildlife conservation with food security, seeks to promote sustainable and legal exploitation of resilient wildlife populations. The SWM is a new initiative under the European Commission’s wildlife conservation strategy “Larger than elephants: inputs for an EU strategic approach for African wildlife conservation”. The initiative focuses on a limited number of Key Landscapes for Conservation (“KLC”) in Africa selected to cover the greatest biodiversity and to target emblematic species essential for natural ecosystems with established importance for global biodiversity.

Sustainable wildlife management touches upon many legal areas, and is as sensitive as it is complex. Thus, for example, in the context of the SWM programme, technical legal expertise will aim to secure tenure rights, protect wildlife, regulate markets and trade, and introduce animal health and food safety measures.

The SWM programme will be implemented by a consortium comprising FAO, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le dévelopment (CIRAD), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Under this initiative, LEGN is leading work to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks to support the sustainable exploitation of “wildlife species resilient to hunting and fishing” (WSRHF) and to safeguard protected and/or endangered species.

Magistrates: major actors in enforcing fisheries law

In many countries, magistrates are important players in the protection of fisheries resources and supporting conservation and sustainable fishing practices. A lack of effective enforcement, and the imposition of light penalties on offenders, can have significant negative impacts upon a country’s fisheries resources.

To highlight the role that magistrates can play in this context, from 29 October to 4 November 2016, a Workshop on Fisheries Law Enforcement was held in Madang, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The workshop, the first of its kind in the country and a rare occurrence in the Pacific region, targeted senior magistrates of PNG’s Magisterial Courts where fisheries violations are first received and tried as criminal cases.

Senior magistrates and fisheries law enforcement officers were introduced to international and regional legal frameworks for fisheries and the global efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The aim was to familiarise magistrates with national fisheries legislation. It also aimed at enhancing the investigation and prosecution skills of fisheries law enforcement officers by introducing them to electronic technologies for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), such as electronic catch documentation schemes, vessel monitoring systems and real time video monitoring on board vessels.

The Fisheries Judiciary Bench Book developed by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to assist magistrates who preside over fisheries cases, was launched at the workshop. The Bench Book, among other things, is a digest of the international law basis for the PNG fisheries law and provides a quick reference for magistrates and law enforcement officers on the main offences-creating provisions of the Fisheries Management Act 1998 (as amended) and the corresponding penalties for violations. A Bench Book addressing this specific area of law is a valuable tool that other countries may wish to consider developing, particularly where magistrates may not have access to regular training opportunities.

In addition to senior magistrates and fisheries law enforcement officers, workshop participants included Police officers, PNG Ports Authority, Customs, the PNG Defence Force, the NFA, the Public Solicitors Office, the Department of Justice and Attorney General and representatives of the Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency. FAO supported the development of the Bench Book and the conduct of the workshop.


Agriculture and sustainability: Discussions at the IBA Annual Conference

“Feeding the world: is technology-based farming sustainable?” This question was considered by the newly established Agricultural Law Working Group and the Healthcare and Life Sciences Law Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA) at its Annual Conference held in September 2016. LEGN represented FAO in this discussion and its key messages were:

  • The issue at hand was not so much technology per se, which could be used sustainably or unsustainably as the case may be, but the approach taken towards agriculture. For instance, sustainable techniques in agriculture include crop rotation and intercropping, precision agriculture and use of recycled waste water for irrigation or aquaculture. By contrast, unsustainable practices include ploughing and pulverizing of soils, monocropping and misuse of chemical inputs (pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers). A major barrier to more sustainable agriculture is insecurity of tenure: farmers need to have secure tenure to have the appropriate incentives for sustainable practices.

  • There are several key FAO instruments relevant to agriculture and land tenure, in particular the “Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” which is a soft law instrument, endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and consistent with international human rights law. The FAO publication developed by LEGN “Responsible governance of tenure and the law: a guide for lawyers and other legal service providers” also provides important guidance in this area. Lawyers working for farmers and agribusinesses – large and small – need to take note of these, as well as the “Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS RAI)” which address private sector operatives as well as States.

The IBA annual conferences gather together thousands of lawyers, employed in both the public and private sectors.

Review of Chile’s General Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture

On 25 October 2016, FAO’s Deputy Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean and FAO’s Representative to Chile, delivered to Her Excellency Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile, a report containing FAO’s Review of Chile’s General Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture. The review had been requested by the Under Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Ministry of Economics, Development and Tourism in 2015.

The report was the result of a review of the text of the Law and, in particular, modifications introduced in 2013, vis-à-vis the international instruments and good practices on sustainability and responsible governance in the fisheries sector. The review used an analytical and participative methodology. The opinion of sectoral actors was gathered in a questionnaire through 27 surveys with focal groups throughout the country. 218 people participated, including representatives of artisanal and industrial fishers, scientists, NGOs, the public sector and representatives of indigenous people.

FAO’s technical review was undertaken by a multidisciplinary team of national and international specialists in fisheries, economics and law.

From a legal perspective, the legislation was assessed against the main international instruments, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security; and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication.

Although the 2013 amendments had incorporated principles and mechanisms of a modern fisheries legislation, the report concluded that some aspects could be improved, such as: including food security and nutrition among its guiding principles; expanding the concepts of “sustainable use” and “ecosystem approach”; promoting the participation of the different sectors involved, especially indigenous people, and recognizing their rights notwithstanding the rights of others; addressing climate change; reviewing the classification of artisanal fishers as there should be some distinctions between different kinds of fishers; improving legislation regarding social security and labour laws; developing a national fisheries policy that is in line with national goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

On 23 November 2016, FAO presented the report before the Fishing Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, in the context of a discussion of a proposal of amendments to the Law regarding artisanal fisheries' working modalities and contracts.


FAO´s report was very well received in all sectors of Chilean society. Authorities and representatives of the artisanal and industrial fisheries sectors have recognized it as an essential instrument for the improvement of the General Law on Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The full Report and its annexes (in Spanish) is available here.

Side events at the Committee on World Food Security

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is the primary international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together in order to ensure food security and nutrition for all. Its forty-third annual plenary session took place at FAO Headquarters from 17 to 21 October 2016. A link to the CFS 43 plenary and side events, with abstracts, summaries and photos, can be found here.

LEGN co-organized and participated in two of the many side events.

The side event “Human rights, food security and nutrition and small-scale fisheries” (link here) contributed to an experience sharing and learning process on how to apply the human-rights based approach (HRBA) in the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines and aimed at enhancing the role of small-scale fisheries in promoting food security and nutrition. Panellists insisted on the importance of compliance by States with their obligations under international human rights treaties. They also stressed the need to assess policies, interventions and investments linked to fisheries and fishing communities in light of the right to adequate food and other related rights of the affected communities.

The second side event, “Tenure Governance and the Sustainable Development Goals” (link here) explored legal and policy tools aimed at providing equity in tenure governance and sustainable development. Discussions addressed legal approaches for operationalizing the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, including securing legitimate land tenure rights as a step towards food security. Panellists highlighted lessons learned from the application of the concept of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the land, food, agriculture and fisheries sectors. The panellists stressed the utility of the VGGT in supporting the move towards equity in the context of the 2030 Agenda, despite their soft-law nature and possible tensions between different bodies of international law. The panellists also drew attention to the importance of national law for land governance including, for instance, defining what tenure rights are “legitimate”.


Regulatory responses to biological threats

Biological threats must be addressed not only through technical and scientific means, but also by legislative and regulatory measures. In this context, “biological threats” are defined as threats that result from or are exacerbated by infectious diseases of animals (including zoonosis). These could arise from natural or manmade disasters, laboratory accidents or from the deliberate manipulation or release of pathogens.


This was the subject of a seminar organized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) under its Veterinary Legislation Support Programme (VLSP) in December 2016. The seminar aimed at identifying regulatory needs and options to prevent biological threats, and moves forward from the results of the OIE Conference on Biological Threat Reduction (link here).

Experts debated approaches to address the risks arising from biological threats in national and regional veterinary legislation. The nature of the threats under consideration is broad in scope and, at the seminar, deliberations addressed intentional biological threats as regulated by the Biological Weapons Convention (link here) and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (link here), as well as regulatory responses to prevent and address incidental or natural releases of animal pathogens, both in laboratory facilities and in the field.

LEGN Interns and Volunteers

Every year, the Legal Office welcomes a number of law students and recent graduates with a keen interest in development law as interns at its Rome Headquarters, as well as to work with its officers in Chile and Ethiopia, for a period of three to six months. In a few cases, LEGN also accepts volunteers – those persons with some work experience who are ready to provide their legal knowledge and expertise gratis for a limited period to FAO.


For further information, please visit the following FAO website at http://www.fao.org/employment/opportunities-for-young-talents/internship-programme/en/ .

Applications may now be submitted for the second half of 2017 and for 2018. To express an interest in being considered for an internship or volunteership, please send the documents identified on the website to [email protected].