By Wendy Laursen 2015-04-19 20:26:52
Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has called on IMO to take action on human rights saying that the Maritime Labour Convention is inadequate. The call comes as part of the human rights group’s launch of its “Unlocking the issue” advocacy campaign.
The campaign aims to bring human rights awareness to the forefront of the maritime industry and its regulators. It will be structured around numerous HRAS initiatives which aim to develop maritime human rights by providing objective case studies, academic interpretations and model documentation for international consideration and voluntary use.
HRAS Founder David Hammond quotes a recent comment from a shipping executive: “There is no requirement for human rights at sea….what happens at sea is the business of the ship owner and the flag Sate….it has not been an issue before, so why now?”
Most recently, the issue of migrant losses in the Mediterranean has captured the media and political spotlight, says Hammond, but this is just one important factor in what is a much wider maritime human rights landscape that needs attention.
“Since its inception in April 2015, HRAS has publicly stated that the application and understanding of human rights in the maritime environment through just the implication of “Fundamental Rights” is insufficient. For example, most seafarers and fishermen have not heard of or understand the State implications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948,” says Hammond.
“Our long-term international advocacy campaign “Unlocking the issue” aims to lead open and explicit discussion about the application, enforcement and development of measures addressing human rights issues amongst the maritime and fishing industries, their respective supply chains and their global supporting communities.
“This includes, among other related initiatives, kick-starting the discussion on the need for driving up international maritime standards for effectively combating abuses at sea; be it the enslavement of fishermen in blue water fleets, the suspicious disappearance and murder of seafarers, safeguards for foreign crewed vessels, accountability of flag States for abuses on their ships, wider development of maritime CSR policies on behalf of the human element, and the prosecution of abusers in national courts.”
A recent Crewtoo survey published on March 12, 2015 asked the question: “Do people care about seafarers human rights?” 65 percent responded “No”. 35 percent responded “Yes”. This says much about how seafarers view the support shown by employers and representative bodies alike, says Hammond.
“More worrying is the trend by some shipping bodies and individuals in perpetuating the common myth that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 is a Human Rights convention that provides all the protections required for seafarers’ human rights. This provides a false sense of security to seafarers covered by the Convention and highlights at best a misinterpretation by professional bodies and individuals in positions of influence,” says Hammond.
“As a matter of leadership, Human Rights at Sea now calls for open and explicit discussion of human rights to be driven forward as a constituent part of the IMO’s Strategic Plan and associated High Level Action Plans. We also want this discussion to extend to individual flag states and shipowners in both the maritime and fishing industries.”
There is no reason not to, says Hammond, who believes a new strategic approach to corporate inclusion of maritime human rights in daily business is also required.
12 Months Ago
“12 months ago, the now recognisable term of “Human Rights at Sea” did not exist; neither did an international advocacy platform highlighting this fundamental issue specifically in the maritime environment,” says Hammond.
“I am delighted with the progress Human Rights at Sea has made in only 12 months; much of which is owed to the growing level of international support for our pro bono development programs, initiatives and model documentation being developed for voluntary use by all.”