Human rights-based fishing: A rights-based approach to complement fisheries co-management in Thailand
Berkel, P.A.R. van
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Thailand has established collaborative management (or co-management) policies in its fishery sector with the intention of achieving resource sustainability and stimulating local community participation. However, decades after its implementation, co-management does not experience improvements in sustainability of fisheries and living conditions of fishing communities. The need for sustainable resource use and alleviating human conditions has led to the application of the rights-based approach (RBA) to natural resource management. A definition of the rights-based approach as in the context of international development was maintained for this study, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights serves as the international norm promoting human rights. Since the rights-based approach is argued to tackle poverty, insecurity and marginalisation (which are underlying factors of overfishing) at their root cause, it was investigated whether a rights-based approach could fill up the gaps left by co-management in addressing resource sustainability and improving fishing communities’ livelihoods in Thailand. Factors causing the shortfalls of co-management were legally, politically and practically oriented. The opportunities and barriers of a rights-based approach, which were derived from literature concerning international development, were combined with these factors. It was found that some opportunities of an RBA could complement fisheries co-management, for instance its legitimacy in international law. However, a broader notion of the rights-based approach is needed to improve the capability of an RBA to complement fisheries co-management. This broader view does not consider only the state as the principal actor responsible for upholding its citizen’s rights, but includes individuals and non-state actors as well. On top of that, the RBA’s focus should expand from its traditional focus on civil and political rights to include economic, social and cultural rights.