Where access and benefit-sharing comes from: A historical overview

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The international legal system of access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources (or ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an ever-evolving field as its material, temporal and activity scope is still under discussion to meet the needs of the advancement of research and development activities as well as the questions of fairness and equity that evolve with them. Activities, such as research and development with digital sequence information (DSI), currently take considerable space in the negotiations and the lack of consensus between the Global North and Global South continues. This paper gets its raison d'être from this lack of consensus and aims to provide a better understanding of the debate around the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources as well as states' sovereignty over their natural resources. As such, the paper provides an analysis of all relevant documents at the international level, starting from the UN Charter to the CBD final text with the hope of reminding the ongoing CBD negotiations why we have ABS in the first place and what the international community historically aimed for when regulating genetic resources at the international level. Looking back at why we had the first legally binding ABS instrument in the first place, and why we thought this instrument would achieve fairness and equity in dealing with genetic resources, will serve the interests of all Parties to the CBD and will hopefully enable them to interpret the provisions based on their overarching aim and reasoning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-88
JournalGenetic Resources
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Law

Free keywords

  • International environmental law
  • Public international law
  • Access and benefit-sharing


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