Advisory Board member Professor Sir Malcolm D Evans, KCMG, OBE, FLSWhas worked with Wilton Park to develop a conference that will build on the recent International Relations and Defence Committee (IRDC’s) Inquiry Report recommendations.

The conference is a response to the 2021 House of Lords United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea inquiry and whether it was fit for purpose in the 21st century. Critical issues were raised, and failures to protect human rights at sea were highlighted; however, despite expert guidance to explicitly examine human rights protections at sea, the UK government failed to detail human rights issues comprehensively and failed to recognise the need for better protections in their response. 

In December, Wilton Park will bring together selected experts and practitioners to explore tensions between the fundamental concepts underpinning the law of the sea and those underpinning international human rights protection. Stakeholders and policymakers will identify and explore practical ways in which the law of the sea might be developed to better address the enforcement, monitoring and protection of human rights at sea, and they will consider how the language of human rights protections can better reflect the different approaches to allocating jurisdiction and responsibility at sea. The conference will also generate practical strategies to enhance human rights protection at sea.

The conference aims to develop and understand how human rights obligations can be projected into the maritime environment in ways that respect both the fundamental structures of ocean governance and significant rights protection for individuals at sea.  

Professor Sir Malcolm Evans said:
 ‘For too long, human rights have been lost at sea. That needs to change. The Wilton Park conference provides an ideal opportunity to forge a new understanding of how this might be achieved’

Human Rights at Sea look forward to attending and participating at Wilton Park and believes it is a timely and important step to address the legal, political and operational challenges that impede the adequate protection of human rights at sea to guarantee that every victim of abuse has access to effective remedy. 

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