For the past decade, Human Rights at Sea has been an unwavering force, standing up for the human rights of those who are often silenced around the world, regardless of their background or origin.  

And now, as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, it's time to reflect on our journey so far and look forward to the future.  

It all began with our founder, who delivered a powerful lecture onboard the HQS Wellington during the inaugural London International Shipping Week (LISW) in 2013.  

As with LISW, we've come a long way from those early days, expanding our reach from the River Thames to the global stage.  

In April 2014, supported by 9 Bedford Row Chambers in London, the organisation officially became a registered charitable non-government organisation. 

Since then, we have researched, investigated, partnered and advocated for a simple vision: to end human rights abuse at sea.  We've issued countless guidance notes and case studies, exposed uncomfortable truths where there has been silence, and challenged narratives to act as a catalyst for change.  

Our work and its impact culminated in us obtaining special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council in December 2022. 

HoL event 2023

But our work is far from over.  

We recently hosted a special event at the House of Lords, where we welcomed our closest supporters, friends, and colleagues. Industry leaders, academics and parliamentarians united to discuss the critical need to safeguard the rights of those living, working, and travelling across oceans.  Matthew Vickers, Chair of Trustees HRAS, expressed his delight in welcoming a diverse range of guests. He said, "It was great to see people from all backgrounds with a broad range of experience standing up and acknowledging that human rights apply at sea, especially the newly elected Secretary General Designate of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco." 

HoL event 2023

Overlooking the Thames, our founder and CEO gave a passionate speech, reminding us all of the importance of our work and our shared vision: to end human rights abuses at sea.  

"Whether we are drafting resolutions and statements in the margins of the Human Rights Council, donning body armour to collect evidence of human rights abuses, or simply handling onions for a father whose son has been abandoned on a vessel thousands of miles away - we will not stop," said David. 

David Hammond CEO


David asked the audience what a UN Grounds Pass, a body armour plate, and an onion have to do with human rights at sea. He went onto explain that the items are symbolic of the levels at which the organisation operates. The access pass illustrates our work with the UN and our UN-accredited status. The body armour plate represents our field work in sometimes dangerous or conflict affected places. And the onion was symbolic of work we did to support an abandoned seafarer and his family in India. The seafarer has been abandoned for a a number of years and his family were onion farmers, and as David said: “What that sticks in my mind today is that onion harvest was all that stood between them and destitution. The irony was that the seafarer was a member of a multitrillion-dollar supply chain, and when we asked for financial support for the family we were told there was none. That is plain wrong”

Guests also got an exclusive look at a new trailer for a Human Rights at Sea documentary due for release later this year. The film focuses on the tragic story of Eritara Aati, a case we investigated and profiled in 2021.  

As well as shining a light on this tragic incident, the film will also create a greater awareness and understanding of some of the challenges faced by people working at sea.  

The event was a perfect example of the collective power organisations and individuals with shared values have when they work together. 

HoL event 2023

So, as we look to the future, we are prepared for what's to come. We will continue to fight the good fight and defend the human rights of those at sea, no matter the obstacles we face. 
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