United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) 1992


On December 22, 1989, the General Assembly of United Nations by its Resolution No. 228 voted to accept an invitation from Brazil Government to convene a major Conference on Environment and development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

It was an important conference which adopted a Convention on Biological diversity. The salient features of the Convention can be summed up as follows:

1. That the contracting parties were conscious of the intrinsic value of biological diversity and its components and its importance as a life support system.


2. That the conservation of biological diversity is common concern of all mankind.

3. That states have sovereign rights over their own biological resources.

4. That the states are responsible for conserving their biological resources and use them in a sustainable manner.

5. That the states should integrate considerations of conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into their national decision making and adopt measures relating to the use of biological resources and avoid or minimize adverse impact on biological diversity.


6. That the states should protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with the traditional cultural practices that are compatible with the conservation or sustainable use requirements.

7. That the states should support the local population to develop and implement remedial action in degraded areas where the biological diversity has been reduced and encourage co­operation between its governmental authority and its private sector in developing methods for the sustainable use of biological resources.

The Convention on Biological diversity also contains provisions for access to genetic resources, free transfer of scientific and technical information, technical and scientific co-operation in handling of biotechnology patents, distribution of its benefits and financial arrangement for the implementation of recommendations of the convention.

Under Article-15 of the Convention it is specified that access to genetic resources will be determined by the national governments on mutually agreed terms subject to the national legislation for which the states have sovereign rights. Each party, signatory to the convention shall endeavour to establish conditions to facilitate access to the genetic resources for environmentally sound uses, by other signatories since restrictions on the access to genetic resources shall be contrary to the objectives of the convention.


The benefits accrued from such transactions shall be shared by the parties concerned on mutually agreed terms and conditions. Under Article-16 of the convention provisions are made regarding access to the transfer of technology which is basic to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Developing countries shall be provided technical know-how under the most favourable terms and conditions.

However, in cases where such an exchange is subject to Intellectual Property rights, the rights of the members shall be honoured. The transfer of information and scientific and technological co-operation are covered under Articles 17 and 18. Article-19 provides for the adaptation of regulatory measures to control safe transfer, handling and use of genetically engineered organisms. Article-20 specifies the provision of financial support by signatory states in accordance with their capabilities for the fulfillment of objectives of the Convention.

Under Article-21 of the Convention provision has been made to provide assistance to the developing countries to do the needful for carrying out recommendations of the Convention. Thus, the U.N. Conference on environment and development covered multiple aspects of the problem of human environment and development and the conservation of biodiversity. It was another important land mark in our efforts to protect the environment and natural resources.

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