As there is no generally accepted definition of a rights-based approach to conservation, multiple interpretations exist which leads to confusion when the term is used. The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has initiated further research and debate about the application of such an approach in order to evaluate the potential merit of the concept and enable it to be ‘operationalized’.
On 3rd and 4th of December, 2007, the Environmental Law Centre organized a workshop on rights-based approaches and the environment at the facilities of the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC, USA. The meeting, which brought together ELC staff and a number of members of the Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), provided an opportunity to discuss the general legal framework of the rights-based approach concept as well as its specific application in the context of protected areas, forests and climate change. As a short-term goal, the Environmental Law Centre together with CEL experts will develop a publication on the rights-based approach which will be launched at the next CBD Conference of the Parties (19-30 May 2008 in Bonn, Germany). In this publication, it shall be examined how rights-based approaches could be utilized to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of conservation measures, as well as to promote justice.