Intellectual property rights and the conservation of plant biodiversity as a common concern of humankind

Aline Jaeckel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article makes the case for the obligation to conserve plant biodiversity to be classified as a common concern of humankind, to justify and indeed prescribe limitations on private intellectual property rights over plants and related processes. Within the biodiversity regime, the notion of 'common concern of humankind' subjects the permanent sovereignty of states over natural resources to the interests of humanity. It shifts the obligations of states from managing their own plant biodiversity towards conserving it on behalf of humankind. In contrast, TRIPS requires states to protect private intellectual property rights with little discretion to adequately balance them with public interests. This creates a dichotomy. This article argues that rather than mobilizing state sovereignty as rhetoric to distract from addressing common concerns of humankind, it should be constructed as a concept capable of facilitating these very concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-189
Number of pages23
JournalTransnational Environmental Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Common Concern of Humankind
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Plant Biological Resources
  • State Sovereignty


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