The interface between TRIPS and CBD: efforts towards harmonisation

Lekha Laxman (Faculty of Management and Human Resource Development, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor Bahru, Malaysia)
Abdul Haseeb Ansari (Ahmad Ibrahim Faculty of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Journal of International Trade Law and Policy

ISSN: 1477-0024

Publication date: 15 June 2012



The purpose of this paper is to analyse the interface between the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to determine measures available to the global community to resolve the conflict between them, in order to prevent the rapid loss of biodiversity despite the diverse interests of nations.


Within the framework of sustainability, this paper adopts a socio‐legal approach by undertaking a content analysis of the relevant treaties and juristic writings that sheds light on the existing matrix of interaction between the two legal instruments.


The findings reveal that there is an urgent need to review all the instruments, particularly in the area of trade, intellectual property and conservation of biodiversity that causally influence the people's freedoms and capabilities in the said areas. To overcome the range of these surmountable barriers, a comprehensive approach to development is required, i.e. an all‐encompassing functional relation amalgamating distinct development concerns in relevant spheres, especially in economic matters.

Practical implications

The paper explores the changes that need to be incorporated in the TRIPS and CBD in order to develop an appropriate normative framework with regards to property in genetic material.

Social implications

The research provides amicable solutions that can be explored particularly by the providers of genetic resources, in order to overcome the monumental challenges during the joint implementation of TRIPS and the CBD.


The comprehensive review undertaken in this paper enables the stakeholders to explore measures that enable sustainable development without jeopardizing Earth's biodiversity.



Laxman, L. and Haseeb Ansari, A. (2012), "The interface between TRIPS and CBD: efforts towards harmonisation", Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 108-132.

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