Peace parks provide a land ethic that transcends borders and seeks to stabilize tensions between bordering States, honoring the unity of biosphere systems in its efforts to achieve peace, conservation and cooperation. In theory, peace parks recognize that humans and the biosphere are one and that natural resources, just as cultural resources, must be collaboratively protected. In the cases of inhabited border regions, peace park principles of holistic conservation, cooperation and peace require that local communities be incorporated into park management. I posit that this is all the more true for frontier communities in regions of conflict, weak governance or political instability. This paper examines legal frameworks for instituting peace parks by local communities themselves, when action on the part of their governments is absent or counter-productive. In doing so, I will comparatively analyze transboundary protected areas in different regions of the world, extracting useful legal mechanisms that best reflect peace park principles. I focus this study on transboundary mountain regions because they demonstrate many valuable attributes, such as forests or watershed tributaries, and are oftentimes inhabited by marginalized communities. Degraded environments and disenfranchised peoples are particularly vulnerable to conflict and border strife (they are difficult to defend or reach), making such areas particularly interesting for a study on cross-border collaborative conservation.
Elaine C. HsIao, Peace Parks for Mountain Forests: The Law and Policy of Transforming Conflict to Stewardship (July 17, 2010) (LLM thesis, Pace University School of Law).