Workshop on the Role of Human Rights, Ocean Law and Governance in Securing an Inclusive and Sustainable Ocean for Ghana

By Bolanle Erinosho

On the 14th of June 2024,  One Ocean Hub organised a one-day workshop on the role of human rights, ocean law and governance in securing an inclusive and sustainable ocean for Ghana. The workshop was held in Cape Coast, Ghana, and was targeted at judicial and law officers drawn from the four coastal regions of Ghana. Participants at the workshop included:  two high court judges and three judges of the circuit courts from the Volta, Central Western and Greater Accra Regions of Ghana. These judicial officers were joined by representatives from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Law Reform Commission, the Legal Aid Commission, and One Ocean Hub researchers.

The workshop aimed to: (a) support participants in identifying, clarifying and understanding the relevant national and international laws on human rights and the ocean in Ghana, (b) share the knowledge and experiences of participants in human rights and ocean law, (c) support participants through enhancing their  literacy about the application of existing legislation, and (d) highlight Hub research findings that support and protect rights of small-scale fishers necessary to secure a sustainable ocean use and governance for Ghana.

workshop in ghana june 2024

The workshop examined the threats, challenges, and opportunities in Ghana’s marine space. This was followed by a discussion of the human rights challenges in Ghana’s ocean space and the impacts of its gendered nature on the human rights of small-scale fishers. The workshop also explored opportunities in international human rights law for supporting small-scale fishers in Ghana, as well as the role of judicial and law officers in supporting the reform of the law and transforming ocean law and policy in Ghana.

Participants at the workshop acknowledged the importance of the ocean for Ghana, recognising the urgent need for action to protect the marine environment. Specifically, the participants noted that:

  • Significant difficulties continue to exist in enforcing fisheries laws, particularly in the successful prosecution of fisheries crimes. There is a need to identify and resolve the factors that impede the enforcement of fisheries laws.
  • Ghana is a party to many international law frameworks, however, limitations within the country’s existing constitutional and legal arrangements can create difficulties for the courts when attempting to apply international law to resolve the problems of the ocean. There is therefore a need to identify approaches which may include legislative or constitutional amendments and stronger institutional arrangements to resolve the gap between ratified international laws and enforcement in national courts.
  • More resources need to be devoted to legal aid and access to justice initiatives as many vulnerable groups in coastal communities are unable to access legal support to enforce their rights. They noted the valuable contribution of the One Ocean Hub’s law pop-up clinics but identified the need for more financial and administrative resources to be devoted to support legal empowerment initiatives for vulnerable communities. 
  • A stronger focus on human rights education can support small-scale fishers and coastal communities in general to realise their constitutionally guaranteed human rights.
  • There is a need to support legal institutions including the courts to access relevant, robust, and inclusive scientific and socio-legal research to support decision making for sustainable ocean.

The workshop ended with participants expressing their appreciation to One Ocean Hub for organising the event, also noting the importance of rolling out such training to more judicial and legal officers in future.

workshop participants &. organizers in ghana

Related SDGs:

  • Reduced inequality
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Life below water