More needs to be done for seafarers’ human rights

Over the last seven years there has been little concerted and collaborative effort by the shipping industry to develop unified policies, drive effective remedy and demonstrate public accountability to ensure human rights.

Over the last seven years there has been little concerted and collaborative effort by the shipping industry to develop unified policies, drive effective remedy and demonstrate public accountability in the field of human rights.  A new Human Rights at Sea report, based on seven years of ongoing review and monitoring, found there is a general lack of action and continued collective malaise towards the subject-matter. 

The report acknowledges individual company efforts to ensure betterment and protection of individual’s fundamental rights while working at sea, but the few good examples do not yet represent a majority response.  Nonetheless, it is clear that the issue is not a collective priority and is one which is rarely championed to any depth or degree by industry bodies.

Membership associations are only now starting to wake up to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) focus to evaluate how far advanced companies are with their sustainability actions. ESG, as a concept, now appears to be taking over the traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) platforms and corporate responses.

David Hammond, CEO, Human Rights at Sea, said there has been little concerted and collaborative effort by the shipping industry to ensure seafarers’ human rights.

“This has been exacerbated by too much corporate social responsibility talk in the margins followed by too little action, in particular from leading membership bodies. This has left individual operators who are focused on delivering positive social change to make the necessary internal adjustments without over-arching policy direction, guidance and senior industry support.

“Meanwhile, civil society continues to show the leadership on the topic, but remains hindered by a lack of industry support for wider human rights protections and therefore, the subject continues to remain stymied reinforcing the collective industry ‘profit over people’ approach.”

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