Basel Parliamentary Grand Council votes positively for Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea

Press Release

16th December 2019

London. UK. Following last months’ successful vote in Basel, Switzerland, for official recognition and signing of the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea, the charity is able to highlight the official records relating to the decision which was in favour of the proposed motion to support the charity’s work by 49 votes to 41 with two abstentions.

Sponsored by Swiss MP Sarah Wyss, the official agenda for the Parliamentary intervention and subsequent vote titled: “Sarah Wyss and Companions suit (motion) regarding Basel signature of the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea” was heard in the Basel Parliamentary Grand Chamber on 20 November 2019.

Ms. Wyss submitted a written motion No. 19.5453.01 to her fellow MPs (German version) which has been translated:


“Human Rights at Sea. Basel must be active.
Sarah Wyss

Human rights at sea are not respected. The Geneva Declaration seeks to raise awareness of the disregard for human rights at sea. The City of Geneva has already signed the Declaration in the spring of 2019. Now Basel is also to sign the declaration as another actor. I demand this in my suit.

The suit also demands that the government actively engage with the Federal Council for the reception of boat refugees (European distribution key) and offer a hand in support of solutions.

Activities at sea, both legitimate and unlawful, are increasing year after year. This leads to a growth of the global population at sea, which is currently estimated at 40-50 million people. The majority are fishermen, others work in the shipping industry, oil or gas industry near the coast, in tourism or in other professions. The seas and oceans are also used for migration. Not all people at sea are under the effective jurisdiction of states that are able to protect their human rights.

The Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea aims to raise awareness of human rights violations at sea. So far, the city of Geneva has signed the Geneva Declaration. Other cities are preparing to sign.

Basel, as a humanitarian city, as a city with the oldest university, should also to sign the Déclaration de Genève. An international law professor from the University of Basel is co-author of the Declaration.

The suitants ask the Government Council for [review of] the Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea.

Furthermore, at a national level, the Government of Basel should support that Switzerland takes part in the currently discussed coordinated “distribution” mechanism. As a canton, Basel-Stadt should offer assistance in taking/welcoming refugees rescued at sea following an agreed quota.” [ENDS]

The motion was carried and officially recorded.

The debate was televised and can be reviewed here (German) – view ‘Sitzung vom 13./20. November’ 201920.11.19 Abend Minutes 14:09 – 26:15



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