Human dignity: A fundamental guiding value for a human rights approach to fisheries?

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Marine Policy, 2015, 61, pp. 164-170
Issue Date:
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© 2015 The Authors. Recently, a human rights approach has been center-staged within fisheries governance as a response to the limits of private property rights in reducing insecurity and vulnerability among fishers and fishing communities. Despite its growing adoption in international legal frameworks and among civil society organizations, the conceptual pitfalls of the human rights approach to fisheries (i.e., its neoliberal tendencies and the neglect of collective rights and social duties) raised by critical scholarship remain largely unsettled, leading to practical concerns about whether such a framework will ultimately benefit fishers on the ground. To further contribute to the debate, this article presents a nuanced discussion of the human rights perspective by introducing the concept of human dignity. Specifically, it argues that human dignity, with its greater conceptual scope and depth, could act as a foundational value with which to mitigate some of the shortcomings of the human rights approach. The purpose here is suggestive rather than definitive and is aimed at highlighting the link that has not been clearly made between human rights and human dignity. I argue that heightened attention to human dignity has the potential to create wider support for the human rights approach and ultimately help facilitate its efficacy in fisheries.
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