On 31 October 2023, amid the backdrop of air raid alerts and missile launches towards Ukraine, Human Rights at Sea continued with its introductory briefings for cadets at Odesa’s National University’s Maritime Academy, even holding the sessions in their bomb shelter.
Despite drone and missile attacks, Ukrainian air defences in the Odesa region and nationally have proven highly effective.
During the senior leadership team visit in collaboration with the Black Sea Law Company and the Academy’s management, HRAS met with Professor Mykhaylo Miyusov, the Rector of the Academy, during which time an alert signalled the launch of Russian ballistic missiles towards the region.
In a display of discipline and professionalism, all cadets and staff were led down into the basement shelter where the HRAS team connected with the current intakes of marine cadets. It was also reinforced by the staff that the next generation of seafarers must be protected at all costs.
Despite the change in location, HRAS continued their introductions and delved into their mission of exposing the charity’s work, and the consequences of its impact from a civil society perspective.
CEO, David Hammond, led the senior cadets studying maritime law through key issues, including the inclusion of fundamental human rights protections at sea, the use of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) during periods of International Armed Conflict (IAC), and the need for labour rights protections at sea before an all-clear was announced.
Moving into the main conference room, challenging topics such as bullying, harassment, sexual abuse, mental health and suicide were addressed with incisive engagement from the cadets.
The HRAS presentation also introduced the development of the new soft-law Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea initiative, before the floor was opened to the cadet’s general questions and discussion.
“I was not surprised but instead reassured by the depth of legal understanding, the probing nature and incisiveness of these young cadets,” said David Hammond.
“Being pressed to explain and justify civil society initiatives and how they could improve protections at sea, was one of the highlights of the day.”
We extend a heartfelt thank you to the marine cadets who took part in this extraordinary event. At Human Rights at Sea, our commitment is clear. We deliver crucial independent human rights education and raise awareness even in the face of challenging, potentially life-threatening circumstances.
Our goal is to ensure that the next generation is well-informed and prepared to protect their human rights, underlining the significance of our mission to end human rights abuses at sea.
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