Shipping and Human Rights Roundtable Report

From Shipyard to Scrapyard – Roundtable Report Issued

Press Release

7th June 2019

“It is crucial to have international human rights standards front and centre. The concept of human rights at sea needs to be mainstreamed with all stakeholders round the table looking at how standards, legislation, and industry initiatives fit together and where gaps remain.”

London, UK. On 2nd May 2019, in London, the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB), the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, Anglo American and Maersk co-hosted a roundtable: ‘Human Rights in the Shipping Industry – from Shipyard to Scrapyard’.

Alongside other attendees and with a detailed agenda, Human Rights at Sea spoke on a panel concerning Seafarers Rights, contributing to the session, the roundtable report and the new Shipping Lifecycle Briefing, has now been issued through IHRB.

The Lifecycle briefing includes the previous work of Human Rights at Sea, including the 2016 review on the UN Guiding Principles and their implementation in the maritime industry.


From a civil society perspective, the report highlights that there is an essential role for NGOs in raising awareness of risks and abuses, in tracking cases, and calling for appropriate grievance mechanisms and remedy.

Salient Human Rights Risks include, but are not restricted to:

• Sub-contracting: lack of contracts; ‘self-employed’ status
• Recruitment fees paid to labour brokers – debt bondage, risk of forced labour
• Lack of adequate health and sanitary facilities
• Lack of adequate training and/or HSE equipment
• Working hours, unpaid overtime
• Lack of freedom of association
• Under-resourced labour inspectors and lack of adequate grievance mechanisms and
access to remedy
• Inadequate and/or poorly enforced regulations/legislation at all stages including flag
states, port states
• Language barriers leading to health and safety risks
• Isolation, mental health problems
• Discrimination of all kinds
• Stranded crew
• Impacts on coastal communities’ livelihoods e.g. pollution

• A set of common benchmarking indicators for ship owners and operators would engender strong competitive pressure, and be valuable for enhanced due diligence by investors and customers.
• More information sharing and shining a spotlight on pockets of good practice to take to scale. Conversely, there needs to be more exposure of the consequences of non- compliance with international human rights standards by shipping industry players.
• Keep all key stakeholders round the table discussing options for collective progress, shared cost and responsibility, sustainable innovation.
• There is a need for more collaborative thinking around incentives for good practice, eg fast-track entry into port for operators with robust human rights policies and verifiable good practice.
• The current political prominence of ocean sustainability represents an important opportunity to integrate human rights into the debate.

David Hammond, Founder Human Rights at Sea, commented that: “This on-going initiative by IHRB, the RAFTO Foundation, the Danish Instiute for Human Rights and partners, adds crucial weight to the mainstreaming of the concept of ‘human rights at sea’, something that did not globally exist five years ago.”



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