Since the “Global Conference on Small-Scale Fisheries – Securing Sustainable Small- Scale Fisheries: Bringing together responsible fisheries and social development”, held in 2008 in Bangkok, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers (WFF) and World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), with the support of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) have been calling to increase efforts and obligations of States towards SSF and Indigenous Peoples and creating the environment for fishing communities to enjoy their rights fully. It has then been officially recognized the need for an international instrument that would guide national and international efforts to secure sustainable small-scale fisheries and create a framework for monitoring and reporting.
In 2008, recognizing the lack of any international UN instrument to protect and promote the human rights of small-scale fisher peoples, the two global fisher movements (WFF and WFFP) decided to advocate for the development of such an instrument. This was the beginning of a long and intensive process that culminated with the endorsement of the UN Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF guidelines) in 2014.
More than 4000 voices from fishers, fish workers and others in over 120 countries articulated views and positions that shaped to the contents of the SSF guidelines. The final text of the guidelines was negotiated by members of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and endorsed by Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 2014. The SSF-Guidelines are deeply anchored in human rights and a holistic integrated approach, explicitly prioritizing marginalized groups and gender equality.
In 2016 COFI welcomed the development of an FAO SSF Umbrella Programme and agreed on the need for a complementary mechanism in the form of an SSF Guidelines Global Strategic Framework (SSF-GSF) to be developed with the full and effective participation of all regions and in consultation with all small-scale fisheries stakeholders.
The Global Strategic Framework is a partnership mechanism with an advisory and facilitative role, steered by the FAO and an Advisory Group composed of small-scale fisher leaders from IPC (WFF, WFFP, LVC and IITC), together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and officials from both the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The SSF-GSF mechanism is also supported by the ‘Friends of the Guidelines’ group, composed of supportive COFI member countries.
Its members can share experiences, mobilize resources together, develop synergies and coordinate efforts to advocate for policies and approaches that favor the implementation of the SSF Guidelines.