The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is an international organization dedicated to the conservation of nature and the preservation of biodiversity. On Thursday, September 21, it revealed some positive news for rhinoceros conservation. According to its data, after decades of decline, the global population of these majestic creatures appears to be slowly increasing, reaching approximately 27,000 individuals by the end of 2022, up from 26,272 the previous year. Additionally, the IUCN will participate in the International Colloquium "Defending Nature: From 1923 to Today," taking place from September 27 to 29, 2023, at the National Museum of Natural History. This article will provide a brief I) overview of IUCN's role and then II) analyze how it influences environmental law.

I) overview of IUCN's role

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is a non-governmental organization that convenes the World Conservation Congress every four years. The congress aims to define priorities for nature conservation and promote international cooperation. IUCN's role is to guide, influence, and assist countries worldwide in these objectives, developing solutions based on the implementation of international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreements, or the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. It consists of six commissions:

-Commission on Education and Communication (CEC)
-Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP)
-Commission on Environmental Law (CEL)
-Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM)
-Species Survival Commission (SSC)
-World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)

IUCN is known for its significant contributions, including its involvement in promoting the concept of sustainable development. In March 1980, it officially used the term "sustainable development" for the first time when launching its "World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development." This concept was later elaborated upon and adopted in the United Nations' Brundtland Report.

Additionally, IUCN is the author of the Red List of Threatened Species, which it publishes and updates annually. It represents the most comprehensive global inventory to date of the conservation status of biodiversity worldwide. The Red List assesses the extinction risk of various species based on specific criteria and serves to alert and prompt the international community to take action to protect endangered species.

A Brief History of IUCN

Founded on October 5, 1948, following an international conference held in Fontainebleau, France, it was originally named the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN) but was renamed to its current name in 1956. Its headquarters are located in Gland, Switzerland. With the hosting of the Congress in Marseille, France, it marks the first time that France has hosted the IUCN World Conservation Congress since its inception.

Key Figures about IUCN

Today, IUCN brings together multiple states, government agencies, over a thousand non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples' organizations, as well as 10,000 experts and scientists. It employs around a thousand people globally and has assisted 75 countries in adopting biodiversity conservation strategies and policies.

The representation of France is carried out by the French Committee of IUCN, which includes 2 ministries, 13 public agencies, 47 NGOs, and over 250 experts.

Founded in 1948, IUCN is the world's largest and most influential organization dedicated to the conservation of nature.

II. The Influence of IUCN on Environmental Law

Through its Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), IUCN actively contributes to the promotion and strengthening of environmental law.

At the national level in France, the French Committee of IUCN has been involved in various initiatives, including:

- Advocating for the specialization of judges and jurisdictions in environmental matters

IUCN France has called for the creation of specialized environmental prosecution, aligning with an international recommendation from the nature conservation community. This specialization aims to enhance the enforcement of environmental law by fostering a better understanding of ecological issues, reducing investigation timeframes, increasing visibility of environmental litigation, and improving the quality of judicial decisions through enhanced magistrate training. IUCN France urges the government, particularly the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Ecological Transition and Solidarity, to initiate a reflection process to ensure an enlightened, effective, and coherent application of environmental law while ensuring access to justice for all. This initiative also encourages nature and environmental protection organizations, as well as specialized jurists, to support this proposal.

- Enhancing the effectiveness of environmental criminal law and contributing to discussions on ecological harm

Environmental criminal law undoubtedly recognizes the environment as a protected social value, even elevating it to the status of a fundamental interest of the nation within the French penal code. However, environmental delinquency cannot be considered a marginal phenomenon, as offenses continue to grow and harm society as a whole. Despite this, the number of criminal prosecutions remains limited, and the imposed sanctions are rarely deterrent. Thus, the French Committee of IUCN took the initiative to organize a symposium on the protection of nature through criminal law on September

- Advancing the discourse on a Global Pact for the Environment

Following the two international covenants of 1966, one focusing on civil and political rights, and the other on economic, social, and cultural rights, the idea of a Global Pact for the Environment represents a third generation of fundamental rights. This idea has garnered support for over 30 years from the international legal community, including IUCN. The pact project, adopted on June 24th during an event presided over by Laurent Fabius at the Sorbonne and organized by the Club des Juristes, establishes the right to a ecologically sound environment as a fundamental principle, while imposing the duty on each individual to protect the environment. The document, consisting of around thirty articles, sets forth major principles such as prevention, precaution, the polluter-pays principle, public information and participation, access to environmental justice, as well as the principle of non-regression.