Charter for Recognising the Right to Exist of Fauna and Flora Species, and Ecosystems
(“the Charter”)

Answers to queries raised by cross-regional groups from member countries of the UN, 2020-2021

This Note seeks to address in summary some of the reasons why H.M. King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is committed to ensuring the promotion, passage, and adoption of the Charter, in the face of a dire emergency confronting humanity and its essential interdependence upon the other species. and ecosystems within which all must inhabit.

His Majesty wishes to accord his appreciation for the helpful and constructive observations provided by many UN delegations and government missions based in Amman.

  • What are the main reasons for the Charter?

It is undeniable that the number of species on the planet faced with endangerment and extinction is rapidly increasing. [5th Global Biodiversity Outlook]. It is equally an undeniable fact that humanity’s own existence on the planet depends upon the continued presence of the other species and ecosystems.

  • Are there not already in existence multiple international instruments to address this issue?

Whilst concerted efforts have been made over decades to focus upon damage to the environment, climate change, trafficking in endangered species, green growth, desertification, and ozone layer protection; the most comprehensive effort thus far undertaken has been the creation and maintenance of the IUCN Red List. This was commenced in 1964 and presently identifies 7925 plant species and 5278 animal species as being endangered (EN). Unfortunately, there is no enforcement mechanism underpinning the IUCN Red List and, in its absence, again, unfortunately, humanity seems unable or unwilling to prevent the slide from endangerment to extinction.

  • How will the Charter help?

Building upon the existing international efforts, which include the IUCN Red List, the Charter seeks to persuade States to take the next logical step. There seems to be no real objection to the maintenance of the IUCN Red List on the part of any State. As a consequence, if the IUCN Red List is to have real meaning and significance, it must follow that States, in principle, should have no objection to (and not oppose) the assumption of an obligation on their part to take all necessary steps to protect species against endangerment, once they have been designated on the IUCN Red List.

Likewise, once areas have been nationally or internationally designated as protected areas and/or ecosystems, it must logically follow for such protection to have any meaning, that States should have no objection to (and not oppose) the assumption of an obligation to maintain protection over such areas and ecosystems.

  • Does the Charter set out unrealistic aims?

The Charter builds upon the existing legal frameworks and calls on States to accept that it is necessary, if not imperative, for the continuing and meaningful survival of humanity on Earth to embrace the approach reflected in the Charter. The obligations of protection are underpinned by a legal right of recourse to domestic courts, and reporting by States through an international monitoring mechanism.

  • Won’t the Charter negatively affect the pursuit of human rights, by stretching the rights framework (prematurely) to encompass all endangered Flora and Fauna—well before human rights are observed more rigorously?

We would be mistaken to believe human goodwill is somehow limited and must therefore be rationed or parceled out sequentially.  We can pursue both objectives together and they are mutually reinforcing.  The basic truth is that Earth’s Biodiversity is being degraded alarmingly by human activity – as explained in the CBD’s 5th Outlook Report, and our survival is intimately connected to its survival.  The more sensitive we are to the Earth’s biodiversity and committed to its preservation, the more likely it is we will survive as a species and, along the way, become more sensitive to each other.

  • What do obligations on the Contracting States; Compliances, and Reporting, in the Charter implies?
  1. The draft Charter obliges the Contracting States to enact domestic legislation in accordance with the principles and purposes of this Charter which would allow for action to be brought before the domestic courts in the event of violations of the Charter, and
  2. provides for the creation of international and national compliance mechanisms.
  3. The Charter also imposes a reporting obligation in respect of the provision of annual reports to improve compliance, accountability, and monitoring of progress.
  • What does the Right to Exist of species, and ecosystems signify in the Charter? And how does it correlate with the “Right to Life” under the Equality and Human Rights Commission?

From a broad perspective, the right to exist of flora and fauna species and ecosystems is the holistic recognition that all life and all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined. The right to exist set out in the proposed Charter is to be viewed more as protection against endangerment and is the responsibility of Contracting States, rather than that of flora and fauna species, and ecosystems as such.

One can argue that the term “Right to Exist” is more appropriately attached to flora and fauna species, and ecosystems—ecocentric as introduced and portrayed in the proposed Charter; whereas the term “Right to Life” which also encompasses animal rights but is more anthropocentric and arises more commonly in debates on issues of capital punishment, war, abortion, euthanasia, police brutality, justifiable homicide, etc. (Article 2: Right to Life | Equality and Human Rights Commission).  

END of Document.

20 05 2021