Highlights from our arts-based research engagements
"I took my Ancestors to the United Nations, and shared why storytelling is the sacred medicine ocean governance needs" by Mpume Mthombeni

I could have never imagined that the United Nations Headquarters would be the international platform I would receive that recognition. When I received an invitation to speak at the United Nations Headquarters in NY, as part of the UN World Oceans Day official programme, I was taken aback.

Empatheatre performance ‘Lalela uLwandle’ sparked conversations around ocean governance during UN celebrations of World Oceans Week

Acclaimed South African theatre collective, Empatheatre took centre stage at the United Nations World Ocean Week in New York 7 June 2023 where they performed Lalela uLwandle (Listen to the Sea)’ – a play that explores intergenerational environmental injustices and sheds light on inclusive forms of ocean governance. 

Sharing law and art-based research insights with UN Nippon Fellows

As part of our ongoing partnerships with the UN Division on Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, linked to the UN Nippon Fellowship Programme and capacity-building, Hub Director Elisa Morgera and Dr Dylan McGarry (Rhodes University, South Africa), gave a presentation on Inter- and Trans-Disciplinary Approaches for the Transformative Application of  International Marine Biodiversity and Human Rights Law to the new cohort of UN Nippon Fellows at UN Headquarters in New York.  

Empatheatre short film ‘Indlela Yokuphila: The Soul's Journey’ at the United Nations World Ocean Week

Ancestors were present in this year’s UN World Oceans Week in the form of a digital storytelling and research project. The five-minute film, which took five years to create, explores an aspect of intangible ocean heritage and involved the participation of Indigenous knowledge holders from South Africa. The film and underlying research were headed by Empatheatre, who presented their latest collaboratively made short film, Indlela Yokuphila: The Soul’s Journey,” at the United Nations World Ocean Week in New York in June 2023 

What do arts-based research approaches offer for the protection of the human rights for small-scale fishers?

Small-scale fishers (SSF), in many countries, have struggled to have theirhuman rights  meaningfully recognised and effectively protected in environmental and natural resource governance. Notably these struggles are compounded for Indigenous peoples who have a long history of fishing for subsistence and cultural heritage. 

Deep Undercurrents: Reflecting on the research insights arising from the DEEP Fund projects

The Undercurrents: Art and the Ocean in Africa and the Pacific exhibition showcased DEEP Fund outputs at the Glasgow School of Art’s Reid Gallery in April 2023 and has now been launched as the Undercurrents Digital Exhibition. It is now a good time to reflect on the processes that underpinned the exhibition, One Ocean Hub’s DEEP Fund, and to highlight future exhibitions, dissemination routes and publications that arise directly from this work. 

Contributing to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea's Opinion on State obligations at the ocean-climate nexus

The One Ocean Hub made a submission to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, which has been requested to clarify States’ obligations to protect the marine environment from climate change, including as part of the general obligations to prevent, reduce and control marine pollution. We shared our latest research on mutually supportive interpretations of the law of the sea, international climate change law, international biodiversity law and international human rights law, which is supported by inter-disciplinary findings from the marine and social sciences on the role of marine biodiversity to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Including blue economies in human rights processes on just transitions and foreign investment protection

Human rights issues in the context of extractive industries, transitions to net-zero emission futures, and foreign investment are being investigated by different UN bodies. The Hub made two submissions to ensure that sufficient attention is also paid, in this connection, to negative human rights impacts in the context of blue economies.

Other News...
  • Contributing to stakeholders’ preparations for the SDG Summit   Read More >>
  • Reflecting on the role of the UN in supporting the human right to a healthy environment   Read More >>
  • Exploring opportunities for the scientific community from the BBNJ Agreement   Read More >>
  • New book on State Ocean Jurisdiction sheds light on improved ocean governance for sustainable development   Read More >>
Can the humanities help save the ocean(s)?

This blog post by Nina Rivers and Ingvild Boberg reflects on the role of humanities to help save the ocean, based on interactions at the summer seminar “OCEAN: Use and Regulations of World Oceans – a Cross-Disciplinary Conversation” held in Tromsø, Norway (12-16 June, 2023). The aim of the OCEAN seminar was to facilitate thought-provoking conversations on traditions, discourses, beliefs and regimes that regulate human interaction with, and exploitation of, the world’s ocean(s).

‘Fishing’ for recognition of customary law: a preliminary reflection in the fisheries context

The recognition of customary law in the context of natural resource management has received attention in national and international fora for many years. References to customary practices, authorities, rights, tenure systems, fishing grounds and access to fishery resources are found in instruments adopted under the FAO’s auspices.

Kirsty McQuaid

Q: What is your advice to fellow early-career researchers working on a global development project?

A: Think critically about how you carry out your research, and how you participate in the research of others. If you are on the “receiving end” of development aid, look for ways to benefit your wider research community beyond just those individuals directly involved in the project. If you are involved from a developed nation, listen to partners and fellow early-career researchers from developing nations to understand and respect research priorities. Above all, ensure that you engage these partners fully throughout the research lifespan, from conception to delivery.

Hub early-career researchers’ article on fisheries law wins Award

Early-career researchers  Julia Nakamura, Dr Mitchell Lennan and Kyle Fawkes (University of Strathclyde, UK) have been awarded the Aldo Leucci and Ortensio Degli Atti Award (2nd edition) for their article ‘Leveraging International Fisheries Law for Maritime Security in the Anthropocene: Addressing Conflicts in Fisheries’ published in the Yearbook of the Law of the Sea (2022). The Editorial Board of the Yearbook commented: “The competition was fierce, but your article emerged outstanding in terms of legal analysis and considering its utmost relevance. The Editorial Board was concord in its selection of your manuscript as the winner”.   

The book also includes an article by another Hub early-career legal researcher, Dr Andrea Longo (University of Strathclyde, UK), titled ‘The Human Dimension of Fishing Activities: Towards a Broader Meaning of Illegal Fishing?’. 

Both articles are available open-access here >>

Unveiling hidden contributors: women within small-scale fisheries and greater equity in ocean governance

My name is Maude Chuche, and this past spring I had the opportunity to undertake a three-month internship at the One Ocean Hub. As a French student in the final year of my degree at Paris Sciences & Lettres, my academic background is interdisciplinary, as my degree in environmental sciences is a combination of both scientific and social sciences. As a result, I completed an internship in fisheries in Paris at the Ecole Normale Supérieure specialising on examining the definition of small-scale fisheries, which influenced my decision to focus my research on women in fisheries.

As I took a deeper dive into my research interest, the words of Peace Gavour Abla, a Ghanaian fishworker, in the short film “Ocean and Women” produced by the One Ocean Hub, resonated with the experiences garnered during my internship:

McQuaid contributes to Third World Ocean Assessment

Early-career researcher Dr Kirsty McQuaid (University of Plymouth, UK) participated in a regional workshop for the Third World Ocean Assessment (WOA III), in Kingston, Jamaica in June 2023. She was invited to the workshop by the International Seabed Authority and United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. The workshop was organised within the framework of the third cycle of the ‘Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment’.  

“Discussions focussed on sustainable development of ocean sectors, identifying motivations and challenges”, says Kirsty who contributed to discussions on deep-sea mining, medium- and large-scale fisheries, and marine genetic resources and biotechnology.  

In particular,  Kirsty highlighted Hub research on the importance of regional approaches, habitat mapping and deep-sea ecosystem services in supporting environmental management and sustainable development – an area of work she’s focusing on together with Prof Kerry Howell (University of Plymouth, UK) and other Hub researchers. Outputs from the workshop will be shared with the authors writing the WOA III. More information on the process can be found below.

Celebrating the diverse vibrancy of Indigenous customs at the 7th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival

Vanuatu, 19 – 30 July 2023

The One Ocean Hub is partnering with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to showcase the unique heritage of artists, performers and cultural practitioners in Melanesia, and promote regional cooperation and advance mutual respect. The Hub will present the exhibition Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Melanesia  at the  7th  Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival in Port Vila, Vanuatu, 19 – 31 July 2023, which celebrates the diverse vibrancy of Indigenous customs and traditions specific to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, West Papua and the Torres Strait Islands.   

Ocean defenders research at the Association of Human Rights Institutes’ Conference

Bilbao, 7-9 September 2023

Two Hub researchers, Elaine Websterand Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde, UK), will contribute to the Annual Network Conference of the Association of Human Rights Institutes, that will be hosted bythe University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, under the theme, “Human Rights Defenders Under Siege.” The Hub will contribute to the panel focused on ‘The Role of Academia in the support to HRDs.’ Another related paper is being prepared by Taryn Pereira (Rhodes University, South Africa) on this theme. 

Join Hub panels at the Winter / Summer School on Human Rights & the Environment

Online, 11-15 September 2023

For the third year running, the One Ocean Hub continues to collaborate with the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to co-organise a series of panels for their Summer/Winter School on Human Rights & the Environment. This year the School will focus on the theme Transformations and Transitions from 11-15 September 2023. The call for panels recognised that the Winter/Summer School is held in collaboration with the University of Southampton Law School and with the ongoing support of the Hub. 


State Ocean Jurisdiction, an open-access book by Patrick Vrancken (2023) Routledge, part of a Book series: Routledge Research on the Law of the Sea.


Ensuring Mutual Supportiveness of the Paris Agreement with other Multilateral Environmental Agreements: A Focus on Ocean-BasedClimateAction, by Elisa Morgera and Mitchell Lennan, forthcoming in Zahar (ed.), Research Handbook on the Law of the Paris Agreement (Edward Elgar, 2024)  Read More>>

ClimateChange and Biodiversity by Elisa Morgera, Graham Hamley, and Mitchell Lennan, forthcoming in Fred Perron-Welch, Jorge Cabrera Medaglia and Alex Goodman (eds), Legal Aspects of Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CUP, 2023) Read More>>

The road towards effective governance and management of marine protected areas in South Africa: evolving policies, paradigms and processes, By SP Kirkman, P Kowalski, BQ Mann, GM Branch, MG van der Bank, KJ Sink, P Fielding, JB Mann-Lang, MC Pfaff, D Kotsedi, R Adams, S Dlulisa & SL Petersen (2023) published in the African Journal of Marine Science


360info: 'Deep sea decisions can consider Indigenous knowledge'
SABC TV: 'Storytelling as a political act' (reporting on 'Empatheatre' performing at UN Headquarters in New York)
Indlela Yokuphila: The Soul's Journey (Zulu version)
Deep Connections - The importance of Culturally Significant Areas in South Africa's marine space