Human Rights at Sea: An Annual Review

First published: The Maritime Executive 2016-12-27 17:26:06

When asked to provide an annual review the temptation is to list every subjective 2016 success to polish the corporate image and put one’s best foot forward. That part is easy and to a degree it will follow, but first let me start with what could have been done better this year. Why? I strongly believe that honesty and transparency drives long-term support.

International engagement. Our charity needs to do more to continue to raise the profile of our international platform, our successes and our innovations, which are many. In short, we need an updated website that engages across all mobile platforms with all generations.

Corporate messaging. We need to refine our message as to who we are, how we go about our work, what we deliver and what effect we have. In short, we need to be provided with increasing opportunities to present both ourselves and our work to international audiences.

Funding. We need to be even more effective in showcasing our demonstrable successes to a global audience of donors, investors and philanthropists. We need the means to travel, to meet and to advocate our unique brand. In short, we need an effective fundraising team and assured core funding.

There is clearly more to refine, but let me first explain that Human Rights at Sea has come from absolutely nothing. It is a charitable brand that did not exist in early 2014, but it is now becoming mainstream in the maritime space. Those four words ‘human rights at sea’ have now entered into the maritime lexicon and our work is increasingly being recognised internationally. I am very proud of this fact and of my team who makes it happen.

Our charitable organisation has been independently developed for the benefit of the international community for matters concerning explicit engagement with human rights issues throughout the maritime environment.

Explicitly, our Mission is to explicitly raise awareness, implementation and accountability of human rights provisions throughout the maritime environment especially where they are currently absent, ignored or being abused. This is backed by an underlying ethos of under-promising and over-delivering at every opportunity, and our underlying founding principle that ‘human rights apply at sea as equally as they do on land’.

In a nutshell, our charity is about positively assisting with institutional and generational change in attitudes towards the perceived toxic subject of the application of human rights out at sea.

So what has been achieved this year?

  • Delivery of the first maritime crew e-learning course for humanitarian rescue at sea;
  • the issuing of international guidance on the ‘Temporary Deprivation of Liberty at Sea’ funded by the EU and briefed to the UN Human Rights Council in December 2016;
  • the first guidance and introduction to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the maritime environment;
  • and the very successful delivery of the first International Maritime Human Rights conference in September 2016 with a Call to Action of “Application of human rights throughout the maritime environment at all times without exception”.

Our latest publication is with The Nautical Institute covering the emerging health issue of ‘Managing Traumatic Stress’ at sea and this will be followed in 2017 with new e-learning courses, case studies and academic commentary papers on the ‘human verses labour rights’ issue.

We have a growing social media following on Twitter with inexcess of 16.7k followers in just two years. We have been featured in over 73 known international media articles this year. We have growing professional content uploaded to our YouTube channel.

We have been mentioned in and been engaged by the European Parliament, NATO, the UK Parliament, and the international Search and Rescue community in the Mediterranean Sea for our work with migrants. We have also been featured on the main BBC National and BBC World news. For migrant rescue, read our intern’s blog with some life-changing events for her offshore Libya.

In sum, the past twelve months have been incredibly busy, financially demanding, emotionally draining, but most of all we have delivered awareness and commenced positive change in the maritime sector. We look forward to 2017 and the challenges that we will face.


Download our ‘Timeline of Delivery’ document:

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