Part III Social Issues: ABS and Livelihoods

It has generally been recognized that full assessment of the social implications of the ABS regime is premature at this time. At present, with the regime either incomplete (best case) or theoretical, its mechanism is a groundbreaking attempt to develop a commercial basis to promote equity and benefit sharing. Like any legal/commercial mechanism, the primary social implications of the regime will primarily be found not at the policy level but at the level of implementation. One example can be found in the social, gender, ethnic and cultural implications of forestry law. A permit system for harvesting and use of non-timber forest resources is only discriminatory where it is applied in a discriminatory fashion, such as for example where the regulations or the criteria for issuance of permits have the effect of preventing or limiting women, rural communities, indigenous peoples, and other groups from effective participation.

It was originally intended that this Part would address a broad range of social issues, however, upon analysis, it became clear that such research would have been untimely. The primary current research issues in the social area are those of human rights (discussed in Chapter 7) and the issue of ‘traditional rights’ which has been the subject of many hundreds of books and articles, and is even more controversial and problematic at present. The ABS Project is keenly aware of the importance of social issues in ABS, and recognizes that they should be given primary attention once the main configuration of ABS implementation and approach have been agreed.

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