15th April 2019
London. UK. Future Government, flag State and commercial lawyers, as well as policy makers and academic scholars engaged in the Second Human Rights and Law of the Sea conference held at the World Maritime University International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta on 4-5 April 2019.
Convened by IMLI and the Stockton Center for International Law United States Naval War College, attendees debated the role and extent of International Human Rights Law in tandem with the Law of the Sea.
Arranged by Professor James Kraska, Professor David Attard and Professor Norman Martinez, the course delivered a comprehensive review of existing human rights provisions, highlighted gaps and discussed remedies supported by multiple table-top exercises with a purpose to generate a stronger and shared understanding of human rights and the law of the sea; develop the rule of law and respect for human rights in the maritime domain and strengthen collaboration between the Stockton Center and IMO IMLI and affiliated scholars and practitioners.
Following the two days of detailed debate and an agenda which covered migration, protection of minors, human rights and the private industry, fishing Conventions, maritime law enforcement, arrest and detention, criminal and civil remedies and access to justice; the collective position was one that international Human Rights law should be applied at sea alongside the Law of the Sea, and for many students human rights must be explicitly covered in policy, future law and as part of effective remedies for abuses at sea.
The course of over 50 participants was asked if they agreed or disagreed with the proposition and founding principle of the charity, that ‘Human rights apply at sea, as they do on land’. The resounding answer was “yes”, they agreed.
Founder and trustee, David Hammond, delivered an introductory lecture on the emerging topic of human rights at sea, the role of the civil society and the charitable NGO, and outlined the history of the inception of the Human Rights at Sea platform which celebrated its fifth year on the first day, before conducting a table-top exercise.
With support from the faculty and IMLI staff members, the scholars and practitioners reviewed a fictional voyage from Singapore to Rotterdam involving multiple incidents raising questions about jurisdictional challenges for coastal, flag and port State authorities.
The scenario aimed to test the attendees knowledge of not just Law of the Sea, but the roles and responsibilities of State authorities in response to human rights violations, including those outside of the scope of the core labour rights of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, and involving incidents in International Waters.
A complex scenario of a vessel in transit passing through multiple jurisdictions under flag State control with significant human rights challenges throughout the voyage. The educational material is aimed as commencing discussion on flag / coastal / national State responsibilities set against the constant interplay with human rights protections and legal safeguards, and questions of effective remedy.
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