Human Rights Review

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 283–303 | Cite as

Can Rights-Based Approaches Enhance Levels of Legitimacy and Cooperation in Conservation? A Relational Account

  • Sébastien Jodoin


Rights-based approaches (RBAs) are increasingly gaining favour among practitioners in the field of natural resource conservation and management. RBAs are a non-binding operational framework through which conservation actors can integrate human rights standards and principles into the design, planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of projects and programmes. In addition to promoting the human rights of local populations, it is also argued that RBAs may hold benefits for conservation initiatives. This article draws on existing research on the social psychology of procedural fairness to develop a relational account of how and whether RBAs may enhance levels of legitimacy and cooperation in conservation. This relational account stresses the importance of fair experiences for generating positive feelings of legitimacy and associated cooperative behaviour among individuals interacting with organisations or authorities. On the whole, this article suggests that if RBAs can ensure respect for the human rights of local populations, they have the potential to engender fair experiences and related positive institutional effects, thereby significantly strengthening the overall effectiveness of conservation initiatives.


Human rights Rights-based approaches Environmental governance Conservation Procedural justice Legitimacy 



The author acknowledges the support of the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies for this research and thanks Benjamin Cashore, participants in the Politics, Environment & Markets workshop series at Yale, Jessica Campese, and two anonymous peer reviewers for their feedback and comments. Thanks are also due to Lindsay Buchanan who assisted with proofreading and reference formatting.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry & Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA

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