Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Jordan Johnson

First Page



In the Summer of 2019, the Amazonian Rainforest in Brazil experienced an unprecedented increase forest fires. This dramatic uptick in forest fires, according to environmental officials and scientists, is believed to have been caused by recent, rampant illegal deforestation of the Brazilian Amazonian Rainforest. Furthermore, some within the scientific community believe that the increased deforestation and ensuing forest fires are attributable to the anti-environmental protections and pro-development policies of Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro. Since taking office in January 2019, President Bolsonaro has publicly endorsed and encouraged deforestation of the Amazon as a means to spur economic development within Brazil. This Note argues that President Bolsonaro’s approach, of unfettered development of the Amazonian Rainforest, is in contradiction of existing Brazilian environmental protections laws, which proscribe deforestation of the Amazonian Rainforest. Moreover, these federal environmental protections laws were promulgated in furtherance of Brazil’s treaty obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As a party to the CBD, Brazil is required to establish and maintain legislation for the protection of ecosystems identified as biologically diverse. The Amazonian Rainforest is the world’s largest river basin and most biologically diverse ecosystem, as such, the Amazonian Rainforest is precisely the type of biologically diverse ecosystem intended to be protected under the CBD. Ultimately, this Note examines whether the Brazilian government's handling of the illegal deforestation and response to the 2019 forest fires places the county in contravention of its treaty obligations under the CBD.