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Independent Research, Investigation and Advocacy for Maritime Human Rights

Letter to Stakeholders

Human Rights at Sea

Transparency, Clarity and Accountability


The previous lack of contextualised maritime human rights information and available supporting documentation for protecting, respecting and providing credible remedies for individual human rights abuses, as well as the addressing of human rights violations in the daily working environment across the maritime sector (shipping & fishing industries) is a lacuna that must be explicitly addressed. Independent investigations into violations and abuses need to be pursued and where necessary, the relevant sanctions applied.

The apparent but often unjustified fear that ‘human rights’ will be another level of restriction to the maritime community should be openly addressed through advocacy, training and education of the applicable human rights provisions and available remedies. This should include development of best practice, general awareness and clarification of fundamental human rights principles that if considered, addressed and followed in the work environment may assist both employers and employees in reducing levels of abuses.

Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) as a charity has been established in response to a previous lack of an independent international platform for explicitly increasing maritime human rights awareness. It has been established due to a previous lack of an advocacy function for human rights best practice in the maritime environment and for the bringing together of maritime human right’s projects and programmes through international partnerships. It has also been established in response to on-going queries as to the extent to which maritime entities should be addressing, investigating and engaging with human rights policies, procedures and remedies as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

HRAS is voluntarily supported by ‘Supporting Entities’ and ‘Collaborative Partners’. It will be an iterative long-term charitable and not-for-profit organisation for the public benefit of the international community. The charity will provide all interested parties with voluntary recourse to an independent source of accurate, trusted and clear information. It will also provide applicable reference documentation that may be voluntarily used while supporting development of in-house policies, procedures and remedies wherever they may be lacking, require review, or enhancement.

For the corporate sector, considerations of Human Rights at Sea is neither a fad, nor a passing corporate requirement. It should be an ingrained and integrated part of everyday maritime activities against which standards should be set, maintained and wherever possible exceeded. At the time of writing such considerations are entirely voluntary though they are increasingly gaining traction as a matter of good practice. The publishing of the Associated Foreign Exchange (AFEX) maritime CSR guidance incorporating HRAS as an example of forward thinking is a perfect example. This has mirrored by the NIBC Bank in the Netherlands who,adopted the principles, text and focus of the chartiy in their shipping and human rights policy in May 2016.

Transparent, clear and accountable human rights standards in the maritime environment is not a constraint; it is an enabler. Such overt standards support the human element and moral component of the maritime business thereby supporting the wider maritime community in reducing human rights abuses throughout the supply chain which ultimately affects front line workers and the conditions that they operate in.

David Hammond

CEO Human Rights at Sea

Updated 1 February 2017