EuropeMaritime CEOOperations

Human Rights at Sea: IMO must change

London: The founder of Human Rights at Sea (HRAS), the one-year-old UK-based charity, has told Maritime CEO the IMO should be more proactive in discussing matters around the human element.

David Hammond, a barrister by trade, says the IMO is often perceived as a closed environment that is industry dominated. “HRAS would argue for increased independent NGO and civil society consultative status,” he says.

Earlier this week HRAS launched a new campaign, stressing that the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is, in its opinion, not far reaching enough.

The aim of the ‘Unlocking the issue’ advocacy campaign is to bring human rights awareness to the forefront of the maritime and fishing industries and their regulators

“If the intent of the MLC 2006 was to genuinely provide express protections for individuals subject to human rights abuses such as right to life, deprivation of liberty, right to education to name but a few,” Hammond tells Maritime CEO, “then there is no reason why this should not be explicitly stated.”

The issue, he says, is then how abuses should be addressed and effectively enforced through the convention if discovered to have occurred onboard a vessel.

“The immediate response to this point,” he says, “is that this is the role of the flag state, but how many times do we see abuses registered, recorded and promulgated by flag states, or a ship arrested for alleged deprivation of liberty of a seafarer or passenger for example? In short and if applicable, what are the teeth and sanctions of the convention in relation to abuses of human rights? This is not clear.”

The concept of Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) evolved from a number of issues that unwittingly came together in what Hammond describes as a perfect storm. First was the concern for human rights protections in the maritime security industry, the barrister having finished drafting the first international model set of maritime rules for the use of force in 2013, the ‘100 Series Rules’. This development was supported from within industry. The second was a client request Hammond for a legal advice outlining the current human rights landscape at sea. The third was his experience in East Africa in 2012 as the head lawyer of the EU ‘NESTOR’ counter-piracy mission where he witnessed many alarming rule of law issues.




  1. I was a flag of Convenience ships inspector UK, my job was ensuring the 2006 was abided by, now retired I run a voluntary website , we have lawyers in UK/USA in support, we have to get mandatory laws which governs all Flag States and International Waters, as we have corporate greed hiding behind these flag states!!!!

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