Hub provides evidence on ocean plastics to the UN and to the UK Parliament on the law of the sea 

By Senia Febrica

In November 2021, the One Ocean Hub submitted written evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment on ‘The right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment – Toxic-free places to live, work, study and play,’ building a on a previous Hub submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and human rights on the life cycle of plastics. Hub researchers Graham Hamley, Tallash Kantai and Professor Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde) and Professor Bhavani Narayanaswamy (Scottish Association for Marine Science) contributed to the new submission, focusing on basic facts on ocean plastics & adverse impacts on human rights, States’ obligations and business responsibility to respect human rights. These build on ongoing work in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme on the human rights and environmental justice dimensions of ocean plastics. In addition, the submission presented good practices in empowering human-rights holders through transdisciplinary research, including children, women, and indigenous peoples. Drawing from the Hub’s experience, the evidence noted a significantly untapped potential to integrate human rights in ocean research with a view to:

  • ensuring that scientific efforts respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, in the light of the human right to science; and
  • rightsholders can contribute to research efforts, benefit from scientific advancements, and their legal empowerment can be enriched by an inter-disciplinary evidence base; and
  • ensuring ocean research to take the form of equitable, transdisciplinary research collaborations with Global South countries. 

Offering evidence to the UK Parliament on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

In November 2021, the One Ocean Hub contributed written evidence to the UK Parliament International Relations and Defence Committee on ‘UNCLOS: Fit for Purpose in the 21st Century?’ Prof Elisa Morgera, Mara Ntona, Mitchell Lennan and Dr Senia Febrica (Strathclyde University) recommended that the UK promote policy coherence in implementing UNCLOS in a mutually supportive manner with international environmental law and international human rights law across levels and arenas of decision-making regarding oceanic affairs.

The written evidence underscored that the more systematic consideration of the inter-dependencies between human rights and marine biodiversity can offer the following benefits:

The full text of the written Evidence has been published in the UK Parliament International Relations and Defence Committee website.

Photo: Gavin Rishworth