Date of Award

Spring 2008

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


In 1941, as the United States entered the Second World War, leaders from twenty American nations signed into effect a broad-based treaty for the protection of migratory wildlife at the Convention on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation in the Western Hemisphere. This dissertation examines the unique set of questions, problems, and concerns framers of the Convention dealt with in the development of a conservation program to ensure the protection of migratory wildlife as it crossed political borders. Although it provided no solid system of enforcement, the provisions of the Convention opened the door for new, more specific conservation treaties between the United States and other Pan American Union nations as well as fostered a collective effort at conservation between all nations in the hemisphere. This treaty came together as the result of the confluence of the devastating droughts in the 1930s, the severe decline of migratory birds throughout the Americas, and the prevailing policy of isolationism spreading in tandem with the concerns over the tensions in Europe. These stimuli generated enormous concern on the local, state, and federal levels of most governments in the Pan American Union, but nowhere more so than in the United States. This concern encouraged the development of a migratory wildlife treaty that would extend from the northern border of the U.S. to the southern tip of Argentina, and was then also used to establish parks, refuges, and forests to protect habitat, and to promote preservation of natural resources. This Convention marks the first real multi-lateral attempt to forge a coherent conservation plan with the Southern hemisphere and is one of the most long-lasting and successful efforts at conservation diplomacy to date.