Legal documents and policies at the international level



Policy Substance

UN Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD)





The Convention text









COP (conference of the parties) decisions  concerning alien species that threaten eco-systems, habitats, or species (COP 6 Decision VI 23; COP 7 Decision VII/13).















 COP decisions concerning marine and coastal biodiversity (COP 9 Decision IX/20)

"”Biological diversity" means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (Article 2).

 “Prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species” (Article 8h).



The threats of alien genotypes on genetic biodiversity are acknowledged. 

Alien species is defined as: “species subspecies or lower taxon, introduced outside its natural past or present distribution .  If they “threaten biological diversity” they are regarded as invasive.

 Partners are requested to develop regulations and legislation to deal with the problem.

 15 non-binding recommendations concerning national regulations:

-  All introductions of alien species and genotypes,      potentially invasive, must be authorised.

-   Permits should only be given for introductions unlikely to  threaten biodiversity.

-   Burden of proof lies with the applicant.

-   Permissions can be conditioned.

-   The precautionary principle is stressed (COP 6 Decision IV 23).

FAO and ICES codes of conduct (see below) should be taken into account when forming national regulations (COP 7 Decision VII/13).  


The importance of genetic diversity is stressed (COP 9 Decision IX/20).

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS)

Biodiversity loss caused by intentional spread of alien species is addressed.

UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (watercourses convention)

Biodiversity loss caused by intentional spread of alien species is addressed.

UN  Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO)

Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

Protection of biodiversity emphasised. Countries are asked to confer with adjacent countries before introductions are made.

 Harmful effects from the use of non-native species or genetically altered stocks in aquaculture (due to escapes, not intentional introductions) are acknowledged.

International Council on the Exploration of Seas(ICES)

Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfer of Marine Organisms  

Addresses genetic loss caused by intentional introductions of alien genotypes.

 Countries should present a proposal plan to the ICES for evaluation before new introductions are made.

 Genetic impacts from introductions of species part of current practice should be monitored. 



CONTRIBUTOR (January 2012)
Annica Sandström, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

Responsible editor: Annica Sandström, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden 
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