United Nations
The Rights of the Pacific Ocean as a Legal Entity : A science based feasibility study
by Insitut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) (Scientific community)
"At the beginning was the Ocean..."
The Pacific Ocean is more than water or food cellar for most Pacific Islanders. It is part of their lives, of their family, of their blood. Land, Sea and Men are a whole. The Ocean has its mana (spiritual authority) and mauri (life force).
To recognize the Pacific Ocean as a legal person is in keeping with Pacific Islands cultures.
Recognizing rights to Nature as person is not only a legal possibility nowadays but probably the best next step in environmental protection policies. Whanganui, Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, Nature in Ecuador and Bolivia have opened the way to think big in terms of Rights of the Nature.
Our commitment is to undertake multi-disciplinary scientific studies to enhance knowledge on the Ocean, to identify possible rights to be recognized to the Ocean on its own, in compliance with existing international law, to improve existing national laws and propose new ones to treat and protect the Ocean as a person, enhance its resilience in the wake of Climate Change, over-exploitation of marine biodiversity and past and future man-made pollutions and give it a legal voice in its own right.
The final objective is to draft with participatory methods by 2020 a convention on the Rights of the Pacific Ocean open for signature for all countries. the Secretariat of this Convention would be the parens patriae for the Pacific Ocean, its guardian and its voice in the legal and political arena.
We intend to work in a peaceful and constructive approach with national governments, intergovernmental organizations, citizens, private sector stakeholders etc. without any discrimination.
If successful this commitment could be replicated for other Oceans and Elements of Nature.
Progress reports
Identification of the covered area
Draft convention
Clearing legal, economic, political and diplomatic hurdles
Identification of the stakes and defining rights of the Ocean
In-kind contribution
Scientific Research, fund raising orperations to support the research
Basic information
Time-frame: 01/09/2017 - 08/06/2020
IRD (Scientific Community) SPREP (Intergovernmental organization) Conservation International Pacific Islands programme (NGO) Centre International de Droit Compar de l'Environnement (NGO)
Ocean Basins
  • North Pacific
  • South Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Ocean biodiversity, Pacific Islanders
Contact information
Victor DAVID, Charg d'Etudes, victor.david@ird.fr, +687 26 07 38
Marseille FRANCE
Other SDGs
United Nations