Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) continues to lobby for the explicit inclusion of fundamental human rights protections for persons at sea to be embedded within the proposed UNCLOS marine biological diversity Convention being presently discussed by States at the UN
The Intergovernmental Conference (A/CONF.232/2022/5) is an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction fifth session is ongoing in New York.
Being reviewed is the revised draft text of an agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Human rights apply at sea, as they do on land, but there remains a gap in the legislative framework concerning the laws of the sea, which does not explicitly refer to international human rights law.
HRAS issued a legal review and positioning document in September 2019 titled: 'Proposed Amendments Incorporating International Human Rights Law into the Draft Agreement on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction', which stands today in its positioning despite updates to the draft convention text since its first publication.
HRAS has consistently lobbied that within the new proposed text, human rights protections for those persons involved in enacting the convention must be covered to assure fundamental protections for those applicable persons working at sea.
HRAS believes that the draft agreement offers an opportunity to plug that gap.
Marine biological diversity cannot be considered in a vacuum. Effective conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity depends on the activities of people and businesses beyond national jurisdiction. And for many people, marine biological diversity is the foundation of their livelihoods and guarantees their economic, social and cultural rights.
All types of seafarers such as fishermen, crews of commercial or scientific vessels, cruise ships, those involved in the extractive industries and coastal communities are potentially involved in and affected by these activities. The protection of the rights of those people will be closely connected to their ability to protect the marine environment.
Human rights law permeates all the activities of the United Nations.
Article 1.3 of the UN Charter 1946 states that one of the purposes of the UN is: "To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion;"
Human Rights at Sea proposes the following amendments to the draft text, which would embed human rights law in the interpretative provisions of the draft agreement without affecting the overall content and focus of the agreement.
ADDITIONAL CLAUSE - PREAMBLE
"Recognising the need to promote and encourage the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion in achieving international cooperation to solve international problems" *(Based on UN Charter).
"Recognising that the human rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights apply at sea as they do on land."
Relationship between this Agreement and the Convention and other relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies
3. This Agreement shall be interpreted and applied in a manner that [respects the competences of and] does not undermine [the effectiveness of] relevant legal instruments and frameworks [including international human rights laws] and relevant global, regional, subregional and sectoral bodies and that promotes coherence and coordination with those instruments, frameworks and bodies [or the purposes contained in the UN Charter].
Or an additional paragraph,
[5. The provisions of this Agreement shall be interpreted and applied in a manner that respects the rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments.]
Download the September 2019 Legal Briefing Note [Unlocked version] below
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