Invasive Alien Species and the Protection of Biodiversity: The Role of Quarantine Laws in Resolving Inadquacies int he International Legal Regime

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Law, 2005, 17 (3), pp. 323 - 359
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There is growing awareness of the environmental problems caused by the introduction of invasive alien species, described by the IUCN as one of the major threats to biological diversity. Despite difficulties in definition and identification, international regimes have increasingly attempted to tackle the issue, with over 40 treaties referring to the regulation of invasive species. But current international law is acknowledged to have severe shortcomings. Quarantine controls, though originally designed to protect human health and agricultural commerce, could play a critical role as a country`s first line of defence in containing the spread of invasive alien species. The international quarantine regime is conceptually well placed to spearhead the fight against invasive alien species, but there are considerable problems with the current structures. An analysis of how current international trade law and in particular the 1994 Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures may conflict with international and national quarantine measures shows that the World Trade Organization, in its enthusiasm to prevent quarantine laws being used as a disguised restriction on trade, has discouraged members from using such laws to stem the spread of invasive alien species. Much greater cooperation between the relevant parties will be required to reverse this trend.
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