Shipping leaders launch project to deliver on seafarers’ rights

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative and the Institute for Human Rights and Business are developing a human rights code of conduct for charterers, and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges which create human rights risks for seafarers.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) have launched a new project to develop a human rights code of conduct for charterers, and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges which create human rights risks for seafarers – a widely-recognized gap in catalyzing industry-wide policy and practice.

Co-led by SSI and IHRB, the project brings together SSI members: The China Navigation Company, Forum for the Future, Louis Dreyfus Company, Oldendorff Carriers, RightShip, South32, and Standard Chartered Bank.

The challenge of protecting and respecting seafarers’ rights was thrust into the spotlight with the emergence of hundreds of thousands seafarers stranded at sea due to crew-change restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Alongside this increased public awareness of the challenges seafarers worldwide face, there is a growing demand from consumers, investors, business partners, governments, and civil society for transparent and sustainable supply chains that address human rights along with environmental concerns.

Charterers are also increasingly under scrutiny with regard to the sustainability of their supply chains, not only in terms of their commodities but also the vessels that transport their cargo. 

However, there is currently a lack of guidance on how labor and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated.  Plugging this gap is key to strengthening both chartering-related decision-making and due diligence processes.

This project will see charterers play an active role in raising the industry’s bar through the development of an industry code of conduct for actors joined together across the shipping value chain. Based on international labor and human rights standards and principles, this work will bring charterers, shipowners, and operators together for collective action, increasing transparency and driving positive change.

The work will further explore ways in which seafarers’ rights can be addressed by demanding transparency on labor and human rights risks, for example – through contractual terms and chartering provisions.

Image credit: deela dee / Shutterstock.com

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