Human Rights and International Solidarity Special Rapporteur Briefing Note

Press Release

21st August 2019

London, UK. Human Rights at Sea today publishes new briefing note reviewing the report of the UN Independent Expert and special rapporteur on human rights and international solidarity with implications for human rights at sea.

The UN report is the third prepared by the Independent Expert, Obiora Chinedu Okafor, and the second that he has addressed to the Human Rights Council. In the report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 35/3, the Independent Expert engages with the issue of the criminalisation or suppression of the rendering of humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees who enter a State in an irregular manner.

For six years the UK-based charitable NGO, Human Rights at Sea, has been researching, educating, advocating and constructively lobbying for change of institutional and generational attitudes in the maritime sector for better awareness, protections and effective remedies stemming from human rights abuses at sea, reflecting the fundamental rights established the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Today, the discussion and emerging international narrative concerning human rights at sea as a concept and its practical application continues to rapidly develop from academic, commercial, State and civil society perspectives; something which factually was not occurring in 2013 when the platform was conceived.

The report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity reflects much of the work being carried out and often triggered, if not led by Human Rights at Sea, but this maritime focus area for human rights development still remains little known about, or if known about, shunned and ignored in favour of commercial and competitive advantage. The briefing note is part of the continuous awareness raising campaign led by Human Rights at Sea.

Human Rights and International Solidarity Special Rapporteur Briefing Note – August 2019

Human rights are universal, they apply at sea as they do on land. But effective protection of human rights at sea outside the territorial waters of States is impossible without international solidarity and recognition of the extra-territorial responsibility of States for human rights on the world’s oceans. 


Important Note to Readers

Human Rights at Sea continues to publish educational materials, publications, investigative case studies of individual and family testimony highlighting unacceptable conditions onboard vessels of all tonnages, as well as throughout the associated maritime supply chain, in order to establish greater public awareness of the issues raised without compromising our editorial freedom.

The charity does not subscribe to any imposed protocols and agreements with other entities effectively limiting the ability to report freely and objectively disclose facts, including the reality of unacceptable labour, and wider human rights abuses at sea.

The charity will therefore continue to take a legal and moral stand whenever and wherever it can to fairly advocate for the betterment of human rights, working conditions, and the reduction in abuse at sea. This includes pressing issues such as the criminalisation of seafarers and humanitarian rescuers, abuses towards migrants, impunity of flag States in transparently reacting to and addressing reported abuse, the expansion of the positive contributory role of civil society organisations in the maritime sector, and the provision of greater awareness of effective remedies when abuse occurs.

Our Ask in return

We rely on public and private donations to be able to continue this invaluable and independent work free of bias and interference and every donation, however small or large, goes to assure continuation of our transparent and objective front-end work ensuring that ‘human rights apply at sea, as they do on land’. Thank you.


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